As the celebrated captain of the New York Yankees, Aaron Judge's ascent to stardom in Major League Baseball (MLB) is a testament to not only his innate talent but also to the exceptional guidance he's received. Holding the record for the most home runs in the American League (AL), Judge's journey has been markedly influenced by a somewhat unlikely figure: his personal hitting coach, Richard Schenck, a man who never played beyond Division II baseball.
The collaboration between Judge and Schenck began in the 2016-17 offseason, following a recommendation from Judge's agent, Dave Matranga. At that point, Judge, often referred to as "All Rise," was experiencing a slump, evident from his average of .179.
His place in the team was uncertain, and drastic improvements were necessary.
Schenck's Transformative Coaching
Schenck's approach was meticulous and focused. He identified that while Judge had impressive bat speed, his swing technique needed refinement.
Implementing tee drills and various exercises, Schenck worked closely with Judge, leading to a remarkable transformation. The result was a record-breaking rookie season for Judge, who hit 52 home runs in his AL debut. However, this partnership didn't just end with initial success.
Judge has consistently returned to Schenck for guidance, especially during challenging times. A notable instance occurred in 2022, when Judge was struggling to hit his 62nd home run. Frustrated after a five-game drought, he consulted Schenck, who provided crucial advice on his posture.
Following this, Judge achieved the milestone in the very next game. Schenck's strength lies in his adaptability and keen understanding of hitting mechanics. He initially altered Judge's swing in 2016, later making further adjustments to enhance power by changing Judge's stance and encouraging more leg use.
Each year, Schenck adds subtle yet impactful tweaks to Judge's stance and hitting style, continually evolving his approach. While Schenck now boasts a diverse roster of clients, Judge remains his most prominent pupil. As we look ahead to 2024, the baseball community eagerly anticipates the continued evolution of this dynamic duo.
Judge's ongoing relationship with his "teacherman" Schenck is a clear illustration of how dedicated mentorship can elevate a naturally gifted athlete to new heights in the competitive world of MLB.