Yankees Bench Aaron Judge Amid Stellar Season

Yankees triumph over Royals as Judge takes a rest.

by Faizan Chaudhary
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Yankees Bench Aaron Judge Amid Stellar Season
© Ed Zurga/Getty Images

In an unprecedented move this season, Yankees' superstar Aaron Judge was absent from the starting lineup during their series opener against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, a game which saw the Yankees triumph with a 4-2 score.

Replacing him were Trent Grisham in centre field and Jahmai Jones in right, with Juan Soto taking up duties as the designated hitter. Manager Aaron Boone explained the decision to rest Judge was influenced by the team's late arrival, landing around 3 a.m., coupled with the physical demands of the ongoing season.

"Having played every day, you get to this time of year a little bit beat up, too," Boone remarked. He had pre-planned this break for Judge, emphasizing the need to manage his workload. The decision to bench Judge, who has been performing at an extraordinary level, feels monumental.

This season, no player, not even luminaries like Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, or Soto, has matched Judge's exceptional performance. Remarkably, Judge’s stats this season are even surpassing his own record-setting pace from 2022, when he hit 62 home runs.

As of Monday, Judge had participated in all 67 games, boasting a superior OPS of 1.139 (up from 1.026 at the same point in 2022), a batting average of .305 (increased from .301), and had accumulated 59 RBIs (up from 50).

Though he had one less home run compared to the same period in 2022, Judge is on track for a 58-homer season, closely rivaling his previous best.

Judge's Triple Crown Chase

Teammate Nestor Cortes, witnessing Judge's prowess firsthand in both seasons, noted, "It feels like every at-bat we’re expecting a home run now, like it was in 2022." Judge’s surge in performance has also placed him in contention for the Triple Crown, leading in homers, ranking second in RBIs, and fourth in the AL for batting average.

Even in the larger context of baseball history, Judge's current season might be best compared to legendary feats rather than his contemporaries. His statistical rampage, particularly over the past five weeks, has been nothing short of historic.

From a slow start with a .197 batting average and six homers in his first 33 games, Judge has exploded to a .540 on-base percentage and an astronomical 1.566 OPS with 18 homers in the subsequent 34 games. This extraordinary revival earned him the AL Player of the Week accolade, having hit .500 with three homers and 12 RBIs in just the past week.

"Obviously he’s playing out of this world," Boone acknowledged. Despite his reluctance to bench such a key player, Boone felt a day of rest was necessary for Judge. At 32, Judge continues to challenge the boundaries of baseball excellence, echoing his historic season at 30.

With impeccable preparation and physical maintenance, Judge shows no signs of slowing down, defying expectations and continuing to elevate his game to legendary heights.

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