Aaron Judge never will hit consistently. Not in the majors, where pitchers are so good and will exploit his enormous strike zone. He is going to whiff too much, especially against righties who can sweep the ball away from his long swing.
Remember that assessment? It was based mostly on 42 strikeouts in 84 at-bats late last season in Judge’s debut. Admit it, if you are a Yankees fan, you were thinking: The team should trade him before he loses all value. Maybe the White Sox would be dumb enough to take him as part of a package for Chris Sale.
“For me, it was a small sample size,” Judge said. “It is all about making adjustments.”
Judge also pointed out his minor league track record, not only that he tended to begin poorly at each level and then flourish, but also that his whiff rates were fine for a power hitter — he struck out in 24.7 percent of his plate appearances, far off the 44.2 of his major league cameo.
He adjusted — abbreviating his leg kick, among other things — to create better balance and keep his bat in the hitting zone longer. He went into Saturday striking out in 26.9 percent of his plate appearances and chasing pitches outside the strike zone just 23.3 percent of the time, which ranked 33rd in the majors among 183 qualified hitters.
Judge’s patience has been exquisite, proving once again that ours — media’s and fans’ — is not.
More than ever, we live in a hot-take world. The news cycle is 24/7, and opinions can come quickly and anonymously in 140 characters. I know I have been swept up in it, even while preaching prudence to myself. Former Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd, my colleague at MLB Network, has a saying: “Patience is the only thing that ultimately gets rewarded in the game.” And yet, it is in shortest supply.
In many ways, the Yankees’ hot start is in rebuttal to hot takes — Judge’s professional at-bats and prodigious power standing out most of all. It is still early — time yet to…