The New York Yankees, without the services of their 2022 MVP Aaron Judge, seem to have lost their characteristic panache. The absence of Judge has left a significant gap in their team dynamic, leading to struggles against teams considered below their caliber such as the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals.
Judge’s Recovery: A Long Road Ahead
Judge, who severely injured his right big toe by running into the outfield wall during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, has been painstakingly working on his recovery.
Although he has recently initiated light-throwing sessions, it’s a small stride toward a potential comeback. The key factor in Judge’s return is his pain tolerance, suggesting that his performance may be less than optimal upon his return to the team.
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The Impact of Judge’s Absence
Judge, aged 31, made it to the All-Star game, notwithstanding two injury-related absences this year. Despite having participated in only 49 games, he has showcased remarkable stats with a batting average of .291, an on-base percentage of .404, a team-high 19 home runs, 40 RBIs, and a wRC+ of 188. The loss of a player of Judge’s caliber is significant, and the Yankees have found it challenging to compensate for this void, even with high-priced veterans in their line-up.
Aaron Boone: Optimistic Yet Cautious
Gary Phillips of the New York Daily News quoted Manager Aaron Boone, expressing that Judge will be intensifying his rehabilitation efforts before the upcoming All-Star break.
However, Boone didn’t elaborate further on the specifics of Judge’s rehab, though any progress made is certainly positive news. Judge, who is in the first year of a nine-year, $360 million extension with the Yankees, has had a history of good health, with two injury incidents this season being attributed to unforeseen accidents rather than a recurring trend.
Moving Forward: The Yankees Strategy
In the interim, the Yankees are in a precarious position. They need to improve their performance with runners in scoring position, currently holding the least number of at-bats, runs, and hits league-wide.
Relying solely on their pitching staff to keep the team afloat until Judge’s return is an impractical approach. This predicament may prompt General Manager Brian Cashman to secure an additional offensive player at the upcoming trade deadline.