Yankees have an Aaron Judge problem at the most inopportune time

Alexander Wilson
yankees, aaron judge
Oct 14, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) reacts after striking out against the Cleveland Guardians during the seventh inning in game two of the ALDS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

While most are debating how much money New York Yankees superstar slugger Aaron Judge is going to earn once free agency starts, the real storyline that should be noted is his lack of playoff production to start the ALDS against the Cleveland Guardians.

Judge is coming off one of the best regular season campaigns in the history of the game, but all of those numbers and success are thrown out the window the very moment elimination rounds being.

The Yankees need more from Aaron Judge now:

The 30-yeard-old star hit an impressive .311 with a 42.5% on-base rate, including a record-breaking 62 homers and a league-high 131 RBIs. His 15.9% walk rate was the best since his 2017 season, but across two games this week, he’s been unable to get anything going.

In fact, Judge struggled to end the regular season in October, mainly because opposing pitchers were desperately trying to avoid giving up his 62nd homer. He hit just .188 with a 35% on-base rate across his final five regular season games, which might’ve thrown his mojo off a bit.

In Game 1 on Tuesday, Judge struck out three times over three at-bats, also working a walk, driving in a run courtesy of an Anthony Rizzo homer. In Game 2, however, he struck out four times over five at-bats. He hasn’t been able to record a hit over his first nine at-bats in the post-season, which has severely hurt the Yankees’ offensive production.

In Friday’s loss to Cleveland, the Yankees struck out a combined 15 times, but with Judge suddenly hitting the first cold streak he’s endured all season long, they’ve had to find success from others.

Unfortunately, nobody has stepped up to the plate to help supplement his deficiencies, aside from a Giancarlo Stanton two-run homer in the first inning. Considering Judge has featured as the team’s lead-off man for the past few weeks, they clearly value his ability to get on base, but the Guardians are attacking him low in the zone, taking advantage of pitcher-friendly umpires.

I wouldn’t expect that strategy to change with Tristan McKenzie on the mound for Saturday night’s game, looking to dot the low and outside corner routinely, forcing Judge to chase and think twice about close calls.