New York Yankees Player Profiles: Aaron Judge, the next Captain or will he flop?

William Parlee
New York Yankees, Aaron Judge
Mar 10, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits his second double on the day during the third inning against the New York Mets at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

For the New York Yankees, on April 27, 1992, an African American biracial baby was adopted by Wayne and Patty Judge a day after he was born, that baby was Aaron Judge. When Judge was old enough to understand, his parents told him, he was adopted.

Growing up in California, Judge was a San Francisco Giants fan. Judge attended Linden High School, where he was a three-sport star. He played as a pitcher and first baseman for the baseball team, a wide receiver for the football team, and as a center for the basketball team. He set a school record for touchdowns (17) in football and led the basketball team in points per game (18.2). In baseball, he was part of the Linden High School team that made the California Interscholastic Federation Division III playoffs.

You can imagine with this sports record that Judge was heavily recruited by teams like Notre Dame, Stanford, and ULCA as a tight end, but Judge wanted to play baseball. He was selected in the 2010 draft by Oakland but wanted to attend college instead. He played for Fresno State, where he was named a Freshman All-American. In 2012 he won the TD Ameritrade College home run, Derby. During the summer of 2012, he played for the Brewster White Caps of the Cape Cod League. This is where I may have seen him play and when he was drafted #1 by the New York Yankees. In his junior year with Fresno, he led the team in home runs, doubles, and RBI’s. In 2013 the Yankees selected him in the draft, and he signed with the Yankees for a 1.8 million signing bonus. He joined the team but was injured in running drills that kept him out of the season.

In 2014 Judge had a .333 batting average with the Charleston River Dogs of the Class A South Atlantic League. The Yankees invited him to spring training in 2015, and he ended up playing for the Trenton Thunder. He played only 63 games with them before the Yankees promoted him to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. In 2016 Judge found himself on the DL again, this time with a knee sprain. He ended the season with the Rail Riders batting .270 with 19 home runs in just 93 games.

In 2016 Aaron Judge made his major league debut in August of the year. In
his first at-bat, he hit a home run. He also hit a homer in his second game, becoming the only player to do that since 1980. But again Judge found himself on the DL, this time with a right oblique strain the same injury that has caused him not to play last year. In 2017 he was named right field starter for opening day. 2017 was filled with firsts, like the first multi-home run game, first grand slam, and the MLB Rookie of the month award. Judge was named the AL Player of the Month for June, batting .337 with 10 home runs, 25 RBIs.Judge broke Joe DiMaggio’s record for most home runs hit in a Yankees’ rookie season with his 30th on July 7.

He became the second rookie to hit 30 home runs before the All-Star break after Mark McGwire in 1987, the first Yankee to do so since Alex Rodriguez in 2007 and the first player in baseball since Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera in 2013. Before the All-Star break, Judge hit .329 with 30 home runs and 66 RBIs. Judge won the 2017 Home Run Derby, besting Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sanó 11–10 in the final round to become the first rookie to win the Derby outright. He finished the season second in the voting in the AL MVP behind Altuve of the Astros (since then we have learned that Altuve may have cheated his way to that award). During the 2017-18 offseason, he underwent shoulder surgery to repair cartilage.

As the 2018 season opened, Judge found himself making his first start in
centerfield and by doing so, becoming the heaviest player in the history of
the MLB to play the position. Judge is 6 ft. 7 and weighs 282 pounds. On
April 16, Judge became the fastest player in MLB history to reach 60 home
runs, doing so in 197 games compared to Mark McGwire’s 202 games.

The accolades go on and on when speaking of Aaron Judge. He is a huge fan favorite in more ways than one. The Yankees think so much of him that they have set aside an area in the right-field called the Judge’s Chambers. But for all the fanfare there are some cracks in the armor. Judge, mostly due to his size and musculature, is subject to injury. He also is subject to the strikeout. He became the first MLB player to record eight strikeouts in a doubleheader.  It’s the most in a doubleheader since strikeouts for hitters were first recorded in 1910.

Judge started the New York Yankees 2019 season off strong with a .288 batting average, five home runs and 11 RBI’s in 20 games played. However, on April 20, Judge suffered an oblique strain while hitting a single in the sixth inning against the Kansas City Royals. He was immediately placed on the IL without a timetable on when he’d be back. That timetable ended up with him missing two months of the season. Even with all this time on the IL, he hit .272 with
27 home runs and 55 RBI’s. He hit a 462-foot blast against the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 27 marked the 100th of his four-year career. He also had his lowest OPS since 2016.

Last season has been pretty much on par with his best season, considering that he missed two months. We can look for Judge to have a great 2020 if he can stay healthy. Considering his injury history, It would seem to me; he needs to back off the bodybuilding a bit and spend that time on agility and mobility stretching exercises.

Aaron at age 28 is not without a love life, he has dated Sterling Olmstead,
Jen Flaum, Brittany Hodges, but his present girlfriend is Samantha Bracksieck, who attended Fresno State with Judge. They were an item back in college, but broke up and went their separate ways, but she may be the one because they are back together again. She has a master’s degree in kinesiology (the study of body movements). Maybe, along with making Judge happy, she can keep him healthy too.

Unbeknown to Aaron Judge at the time, near the end of last season, Judge dove for a catch hitting the ground hard and apparently fractured a rib.  Although it was painful, he played through it for the remainder of the year.  The discomfort continued during the offseason, and when Judge arrived at spring training in Tampa, he told doctors about what he thought was shoulder pain.  The original plan was to rest him and let the shoulder resolve itself.  That turned out to be a wrong decision because, after weeks of tests and MRIs, doctors finally found the cause of the pain a fractured rib.  They also discovered that he had suffered a partially collapsed lung.

After weeks of rehab Judge is still not ready to play and did not take part in any spring training games before the season was halted. New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone does not have a timetable as to when he can rejoin the team should the season get started.  It was suggested that he might miss at least some of the season.

There is no question that Aaron Judge is a superstar.  The issue as to if he will ever be New York Yankee Captain or be offered a long term contract is dependent on his ability to stay on the field. Since college to the present, Judge has suffered over twelve injuries that have kept him away from the game.  The 2017 season shows what Judge can do, he hit 52 home runs, batted .284, and drove in 114 runs. He did that playing in 155 games.  But in his other three years, he has averaged only 80 games a season, that is not superstar material.

For Judge to remain viable as a New York Yankee, he must stay healthy this year when he finally plays.  He is now 28 and the clock is ticking. If he is again injured and misses much time on the IL, it will spell doom for Judge.  Just two years ago, he seemed to be a lock to be the next Yankee Captain, but this year fans are starting to mention Gleyber Torres for the next Yankee Captain.  I may be overreacting, but this will be a do or die year for the star.  The Yankees are not going to give a long term contract to a player that is constantly injured.  The Yankee front office will be watching intently.