Is Aaron Judge close to breaking loose?

Through the first seven games of the young season, Aaron Judge has surprisingly not yet left the yard.  Judge reached base four times on opening day (two hits, two walks), but has since gone 5-for-23 (.217) with five walks (one intentional) and 13 punchouts.  Perhaps his ugliest game came just yesterday when he recorded his second 'Golden Sombrero' of the season, albeit due to a questionable strike zone.

Photo Credit: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Judge reiterated to the press post game yesterday, however, how he feels locked in and he knows he’s just missing some mistake pitches that he can do some serious damage with.

I dove into his batted ball stats through seven games, and uncovered a few oddities that aren’t quite in-line with his career averages.

Through seven games, Judge currently has a 50.0% ground ball average, which defies his career average of 37.9%.  Additionally, he has a fly ball percentage of just 8.3% which is a stark contrast compared to his career average of 39.8%.  This may seem odd, but Judge made a point of reducing his leg kick with two strikes and going the opposite way more in the Spring, and he’s hit a ton of ground ball singles up the middle or through the right side in the early going as a result.  His 6.0 GB/FB ratio is night and day compared to his career rate which is roughly one-to-one, but seven games is a small sample size, and I would expect this to level out in the coming weeks.

What stands out to me most, though, is in his line drive percentage.  Judge’s career LD% is 22.3%, however, he’s started the season at 41.7%.  Additionally, his hard-hit percentage of 50% is second on the team, trailing only current home run leader Gary Sanchez.  Both are very encouraging signs that he’s seeing the ball well and squaring it up when he’s able to make contact.  Judge’s 2019 hard-hit percentage is more in line with his career rate of 46.7% and tells me he’s just a few minor tweaks away from going off on a huge power tear.

At .269/.406/.308 on the young season, Judge isn't having a bad start per se, however, the lack of power in the early going is definitely of note.  The good news, however, is that the underlying stats - a soft-contact percentage of just 8.3% & AL best .583 BABIP - show he is pretty close to breaking out and putting up the gaudy numbers we've come to expect from him.  It's only a matter of time.

Article by: Andrew Natalizio


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