The New York Yankees have sorely missed the presence of their captain and 2022 AL MVP, Aaron Judge. Since losing Aaron Judge on an incredible catch at the wall, the Yankees’ offense has sputtered, ranking 27th in wRC+ (84) and 29th in OBP (.288). While they’ll need the help of some deadline reinforcements as well, the return of Aaron Judge would give this lineup a jolt they desperately need. Well, for the first time in a while, the Yankees get excellent news on their star player.
According to Jim Bowden of The Athletic, Brian Cashman said that Aaron Judge is “moving in the right direction,” adding that he’s “responding well.” The Yankees have had him take some on-field BP, shag flyballs, and do some running as well. If the Yankees are truly closer to the return of baseball’s premier power hitter, then the outlook for this season will improve dramatically.
Are the Yankees Hinting At Early Return?
With the news of encouraging progress and responses to the drills the Yankees have put the 16th captain of the franchise through, something on the field is also providing some hints at what they could be doing. Giancarlo Stanton is getting extended time in the outfield, playing there more than he has at DH over the last two weeks. He’s hit extremely well when playing the field, and with Judge looking to be eased back from what was a pretty rough toe injury, the Yankees could have the DH spot opened up for him.
Limiting Judge’s workload defensively could allow him to get more at-bats and return sooner than anticipated, and with the Yankees desperately clawing to get back into the playoff fold, they might make a desperate call. We know they’ll look at big names like Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani, and these moves all suggest thinning patience from a Front Office that’s watched the same core make the postseason and get outclassed for over half a decade.
Aaron Judge resembles not just a sign of hope for the Yankees but also brings their in-clubhouse leader back onto the diamond. They’re struggling to play the fundamental baseball they excelled at this time last season, and if they want to contend in the American League, they’ll need to tighten up. No one has run away as the clearcut best team in the AL outside of the Rays, who have also slumped in the past few weeks.
This feels like a pennant that’s up for grabs, as familiar foes such as the Astros haven’t dominated the way we’re accustomed to seeing in years past. Judge, who posted a 2.7 fWAR and 188 wRC+ in 49 games prior to his injury, is a perennial MVP contender and has carried this team in a way we haven’t seen a Yankee do in years. He’s one of baseball’s very best, and the addition of this caliber of bat into the lineup alongside any potential deadline acquisitions would be monumental.
There’s still no set timetable on a potential return for the 2022 AL MVP, but the Yankees are optimistic that we’re headed in the right direction. Only time can tell, but if the reports about Aaron Judge continue to trend upward, the Yankees are suddenly poised to get red-hot in the month of August and propel themselves back into championship contention, especially if they can make their dreams of acquiring Shohei Ohtani or Juan Soto come true.