The 2023 season for the New York Yankees is drawing to a close, and the journey has felt more like a marathon than a sprint. Not witnessing the Yankees in the playoffs since 2016 usually signals changes in the front office. General manager Brian Cashman has weathered numerous storms over the years, but this season might be his most challenging yet.
The Yanks struggled, especially in the second half, largely due to star hitter Aaron Judge’s persistent toe injury. The team’s reinforcements didn’t quite measure up, either. A combination of injuries and roster missteps became the primary reasons behind the Yankees’ struggles. Yet, despite his discomfort, Judge soldiered on, exemplifying the leadership qualities that earned him the captaincy, a title not held since the days of Derek Jeter.
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Aaron Judge: The Heart of the Team
Judge is, without doubt, a fierce competitor. He’d prefer a valiant defeat in the ALCS over the lingering agony of a season punctuated by missed chances. Describing this year’s experience in an interview with NJ.com, he likened the season to a “painful death.”
“I’ll take the ALCS losses over this year. This isn’t the agonizing one blow where you know the season’s over, but more of a dragged out, painful death. But it’s all the same. We didn’t finish it, so it’s going to be tough no matter what. Having those extra couple weeks to sit back and reflect on the season — the good, the bad and then move on … I think it’ll be helpful.”
Even with his limited playtime this season, Judge’s stats affirm his status as the team’s standout player. The 31-year-old outfielder boasts an impressive .267 batting average, a .405 OBP, and a .617 slugging rate. His tally includes a team-leading 37 home runs, 75 RBIs, a 28.7% strikeout rate, a 19.2% walk rate, and a wRC+ of 175. On numerous occasions, Judge has been the driving force behind the Yankees’ offense with his three-home-run games.
His importance to the team was further underscored when he was sidelined. The stark reality was that without Judge, the Yankees struggled. It’s clear now more than ever that the Yankees had to secure him with a long-term contract. The challenge of filling the void he left during his injury revealed just how indispensable he is.
What’s Next for the Yankees?
The upcoming off-season is set to be a critical period. The Yankees, armed with significant financial resources and their allegiance to Judge, are poised to bolster their squad. As they dissect the reasons behind this year’s setbacks, anticipate a flurry of activity and potential changes, especially as October approaches.