Ever since the unfortunate injury of their superstar, Aaron Judge, who suffered a torn ligament in his right big toe, the New York Yankees have been on a downward trajectory in the standings.
A Dire Situation in the Standings for the Yankees
As it currently stands, the Yankees are positioned nine games behind in the AL East, sporting a 50-46 record, which translates to a .521 winning percentage. They possess a +12 run differential, but recent games have not been favorable, with a losing streak of three games, inclusive of the first two matches against the Los Angeles Angels this week.
Regrettably, unless the team’s general manager, Brian Cashman, can turn the tide at the impending trade deadline, the prospects for improvement seem bleak.
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Hope for a Turnaround: Judge’s Return
Judge, renowned for his formidable batting prowess, is expected to rejoin the team later this season. However, not even his electrifying bat can be solely relied upon to revive the sagging offense. The Yankees presently rank 29th in terms of batting average at .230 and 26th for on-base rate at .300.
While the team is ranked in the top five for home runs, the absence of Judge, who continues to lead the team with 19 home runs despite missing most of the season, has seen their offense lagging.
Judge’s Recovery Progress
Manager Aaron Boone provided an update on Judge’s rehabilitation process during a media interaction on Tuesday. Although a concrete timetable for Judge’s return is not available, the team is optimistic about his progress, with diminishing pain and successful rehabilitation.
Boone commented, “I don’t know when he gets to that point where, ‘Now we’re ready to play,’ but the things he’s able to do now are kind of putting him in that ‘close’ [description].”
When Judge had to step away, he was delivering impressive figures – a batting average of .291, a .404 OBP, a .674 slugging rate, inclusive of 19 homers, 40 RBIs, a 29.6% strikeout rate, a 16.4% walk rate, and a 187 wRC+. Essentially, Judge was the backbone of the team’s offense, boosting the performance of those around him.
The Lackluster Performance of Expensive Veterans
Despite the significant contribution from Judge, the Yankees have not been able to extract comparable value from their expensive veterans. Notable players like Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo, and DJ LeMahieu have displayed remarkable inconsistency this year.
While the exact timeline of Judge’s return remains uncertain, Boone maintains the belief that Judge will make a comeback this season, regardless of the Yankees’ distance from a playoff spot.
Boone adds, “Whether that’s days from now or weeks from now, I can’t answer it, because we gotta get through those final hurdles where he can really do things that allow him to play in the major leagues.”
The Wild Card Slot: A Dwindling Possibility?
The Yankees are currently 2.5 games away from a Wild Card slot, a figure that increases day by day as their record continues to deteriorate. The team must hope that Judge’s return is imminent, lest they dig themselves into an inescapable pit.