Everyone in Yankee land is talking about how all the pressure is on Giancarlo Stanton to show up in 2020. Here’s the thing, Giancarlo doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone during the regular season in 2020. And he was just starting to hit in the ALCS when he got sidelined by that injury. The back of his baseball card suggests that Stanton is going to be fine.
All the pressure really is on Aaron Judge.
He’s Got to Play a Full Season
Since Aaron Judge came up, he’s been injury-prone. Even his Rookie of the Year season was hampered by injury, getting his tooth chipped on Brett Gardner’s spiked helmet, and he had to get surgery on his left shoulder after the season. In 2016, he was shut down after 27 games due to a lat injury, 2018 was his wrist, and then he missed 2 months last season due to another lat injury.
Some say I’m being too hard for including his broken wrist in 2018 as part of his injury history. Well, it doesn’t change the fact that Stanton (including the 18 games played last season) has appeared in more games since 2016 than Aaron Judge.
He’s Still a Strikeout Machine
His Rookie of the Year season was incredible, but not without flaws. On top of leading the league in walks, runs scored, and home runs, Judge lead the league in strikeouts. In fact, in 396 games played in his career, Judge has struck out 543 times. In 2017, 38% of his at-bats ended in strikeouts. It was 37% in 2018 and 2019 as well. Yes, he’s a big guy. Yes, the umps call a lot of low strikes on his 6’7″ frame. It’s on HIM to adjust to this fact. He has to learn to hit lower pitches with greater regularity. By comparison, Mike Trout has a career strikeout rate of 26%. Stanton is at 32%.
He Has to Improve in the Playoffs
The deeper the Yankees get into October, the weaker Aaron Judge becomes offensively. Judge finished the 2017 ALCS with a .250/.357/.708 slash line, 3 home runs, 7 RBI’s, 4 walks, and 11 K’s. Last year, .240/.321/.360 slash line, with 1 home run, 2 RBI’s, 3 walks, 10 K’s, and a .681 OPS. This was after clubbing the Twins in the ALDS, which was a continuation of how he fared against Boston in the 2018 ALDS, after posting a .050 batting average against the Indians in the 2017 ALDS.
It doesn’t matter what you do in the Divisional Series. You have to win the CS to get to the World Series. And the regression Judge had in the CS last year, doesn’t bode well for him if the Yankees make the playoffs.
I understand and fully appreciate just how important Aaron Judge is to the Yankees as a whole. But this man IS our lineup. If he’s not right, the team doesn’t look right. He has to post another full season, the first of several in a row. End of discussion. The back of Stanton’s baseball card suggests that he’ll have a good/okay season in 2020, and then crush it like he’s known to by 2021. He showed with respectable (for a power hitter) numbers that he can produce offensively in 2018.
Judge has yet to show, aside from his 2017 season, that he’s half of what Giancarlo Stanton is. It’s tough for me to write that as a fan of his, but it’s the truth. And we need to accept his very human qualities.