The Good News of the Past Two Weeks: Aaron Judge and Gary Sanches Have Adjusted Back to the League

The Yankees have had a tough few weeks. They left for the West Coast road trip high on a five game winning streak over division rivals and a solid lead in the AL East. Since then, they've lost 10 of 12 against subpar competition, most of the team's bats have gone cold, middle relief has imploded, and the Yankees and Red Sox are now tied for first place. Gleyber Torres also tore his UCL on a freak play, so we won't be seeing him any time soon.

Rather than dwell on the negative, I want to focus on the good news: amidst all the bad play, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are playing great. Both players have gotten off to some of the best rookie seasons in MLB history. Like any rookies, we've all been waiting to see what happens when the league adjusts to them, then they adjust back. If Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge are going to be the next superstar cornerstone of a Yankee dynasty, this is a critical period.

That's why this period is so important: both Judge and Sanchez are approaching the 100-game mark. The league has had plenty of time (including an offseason) to adjust.

Here's a graph showing a 20-day rolling average of Aaron Judge's wRC+ over his career from Fangraphs:

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 9.18.35 AM.png

Note that a 100 wRC+ is exactly average. Judge was on fire by the end of April, hitting close to a 300 wRC+ over a twenty game stretch. Then, there was an adjustment. Judge was still elite in May, but pitchers started to limit the damage. Then, in June, Judge adjusted back to MVP-level production. 

What about Gary Sanchez? Sanchez's breakout came in 2016, so you have to consider his progress over two seasons:

Sanchez had the best debut in major league history, in August of 2016, so try not to get distracted by the massive peak at the beginning of this series. Pitchers started to adjust to him in September, and seemed to have Sanchez figured out (the injury didn't help). Then, Sanchez turned it on in late June, and returned to superstar levels.

While the rest of the Yankees have slumped, Sanchez and Judge are hitting a 200 wRC+. Sanchez is doing it as a plus defensive catcher. This is great news. Since they've entered the league, Sanchez and Judge are the 2nd and 3rd best hitters in the American League, while also contributing on defense. In fact, if you count their 100 games so far as a full season, they are having the 5th and 6th-best seasons by wRC+ of any Yankee since 1995. Only Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi had better seasons - and Giambi lost a ton of value on defense.

The rest of the Yankee roster is, let's be honest, pretty questionable, other than maybe Severino. I don't buy the current seasons coming from Starlin Castro, Matt Holliday, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, or even Didi Gregorius as remotely sustainable. Those guys are at best above-average players. But Sanchez and Judge? Superstars. 

 

 

Game # 73: Texas (37-37) vs NYY (40-32)

Headley is back! The offense really needs him. Holliday sits. Castro sits. Judge half sits.

Yanks needs this win to have a .500 home stand against .500 teams.

Texas

  1. LF: Delino DeShields
  2. RF: Shin-Soo Choo
  3. SS: Elvis Andrus
  4. 3B: Adrian Beltre
  5. DH: Rougned Odor
  6. CF: Carlos Gomez
  7. C: Jonathan Lucroy
  8. 1B: Mike Napoli
  9. 2B: Drew Robinson
  10. SP: Nick Martinez

NYY

  1. LF: Brett Gardner
  2. CF: Aaron Hicks
  3. DH: Aaron Judge
  4. C: Gary Sanchez
  5. SS: Didi Gregorius
  6. 3B: Chase Headley
  7. 1B: Tyler Austin
  8. RF: Mason Williams
  9. 2B: Ronald Torreyes
  10. SP: Michael Pineda

It's the prophylactic games of the series.

Game on YES.

Game # 72 -- Rangers (36-37) vs Yanks (40-31)

After winning a game Girardi makes wholesale changes to the line-up. Sanchez sits. Gardy sits. And Carter gone. Cessa starts. Williams starts. Romine squats. Last night's hero returns....Toe, not Masa. Austin at 1B. Yanks are now at full Aaron and full Austin strength.

Rangers

  1. LF: Delino DeShields
  2. RF: Shin-Soo Choo
  3. DH: Elvis Andrus
  4. 3B: Adrian Beltre
  5. 2B: Rougned Odor
  6. CF: Carlos Gomez
  7. 1B: Mike Napoli
  8. C: Robinson Chirinos
  9. SS: Pete Kozma
  10. SP: Austin Bibens-Dirkx

Yankees

  1. CF: Mason Williams
  2. LF: Aaron Hicks
  3. RF: Aaron Judge
  4. DH: Matt Holliday
  5. 2B: Starlin Castro
  6. SS: Didi Gregorius
  7. 1B: Tyler Austin
  8. 3B: Ronald Torreyes
  9. C: Austin Romine
  10. SP: Luis Cessa

1983 -- The Pine Tar game prior to Pineda.

Game on YES.

Yankees Finally Bite the Bullet, Replace Chris Carter with Tyler Austin

The long nightmare is now over. Tyler Austin will join the team on Saturday. Chris Carter has been designated for assignment. Austin is starting at first base Saturday:

https://twitter.com/YankeesPR/status/878618901424332800

The move was probably a week late, but at least the Yankees did the right thing in the end. Good Austin has been on display all season in the minor leagues since he returned from injury. He's hit .316/.388/.560 between Double-A and Triple-A. The strikeout rate is high (29% at Triple-A), but not totally out of line with his career line. 

The smart money, I think, is on Austin and Bird platooning at first for most of the season. That should be a productive platoon. 

Game # 71 -- Rangers (36-36) vs Yanks (39-31)

Yanks face another AL West division team -- whom they can't seem to beat despite being at .500 or below. Torreyes in for the ailing Headley. Other than that it's the regular cast of characters.

Headley is suffering from back spasms. He had an epidural and will not be able to play until Sunday at the earliest.

Rangers

  1. RF: Shin-Soo Choo
  2. SS: Elvis Andrus
  3. LF: Nomar Mazara
  4. 3B: Adrian Beltre
  5. 2B: Rougned Odor
  6. CF: Carlos Gomez
  7. C: Jonathan Lucroy
  8. DH: Mike Napoli
  9. 1B: Joey Gallo
  10. SP: Yu Darvish

Yankees

  1. LF: Brett Gardner
  2. CF: Aaron Hicks
  3. RF: Aaron Judge
  4. DH: Matt Holliday
  5. 2B: Starlin Castro
  6. C: Gary Sanchez
  7. SS: Didi Gregorius
  8. 1B: Chris Carter
  9. 3B: Ronald Torreyes
  10. SP: Masahiro Tanaka

1988 -- Sweet Lou replaces Billy as manager.

Game on YES

Game # 70 -- Anggels* (37-38) vs Yanks (39-30)

* The Yanks won yesterday so I'm not correcting it.

Can Sevy maintain the momentum? Carter back at 1B. Sanchez squats. Torreyes replaces Headley at 3B

Angels

  1. CF: Cameron Maybin
  2. RF: Kole Calhoun
  3. DH: Albert Pujols
  4. 3B: Yunel Escobar
  5. 1B: Luis Valbuena
  6. SS: Andrelton Simmons
  7. LF: Eric Young
  8. C: Martin Maldonado
  9. 2B: Cliff Pennington
  10. SP: Jesse Chavez

Yanks

  1. LF: Brett Gardner
  2. CF: Aaron Hicks
  3. RF: Aaron Judge
  4. DH: Matt Holliday
  5. 2B: Starlin Castro
  6. C: Gary Sanchez
  7. SS: Didi Gregorius
  8. 1B: Chris Carter
  9. 3B: Ronald Torreyes
  10. SP: Luis Severino

Refs sent back to SWB. Yanks call up LHP Tyler Wade.

Game on YES.

Game # 69 -- Anggels (37-37) vs Yanks (38-30)

The second place -- and sinking fast -- Yankees try again to reverse the skid. Monty gets another crack at being the stopper. Carter sits. Holliday at 1B. Sanchez DH. Romine squats (not sure Romine over Carter is an upgrade.)

ANGELS

Maybin, CF
Calhoun, RF
Pujols, DH
Secobar, 3B
Simmons, SS
Maldonado, C
Cron, 1B
Espinosa, 2B
Young, LF
Nolasco, P

YANKS

Gardner. LF
Hicks, CF
Judge, RF
Holliday, 1B
Castro, 2B
Sanchez, DH
Gregorius, SS
Headley, 3B
Romine, C
Montgomery, P

Game on YES and MLBN (regional)


 

 

Podcast Episode 93: Draft Results, Losing Streak, Torres Injury

We're back! After a week off, EJ and Paul discuss the 2017 Yankee draft results, the 6-game losing streak, and the short and long-term implications of Gleyber Torres' injury. 

We're sponsored by seatswaptickets.com, a great new website where fans can trade their unused tickets with other fans. Use the promo code "SWAP" to get $20 off your next purchase on Swap Seat's partner website, Seat Geek.

Want to help us out? Please share is podcast with at least one of your friends. We're proud of the podcasts we put out, and would like to try and reach more people. Thank you for listening!

Subscribe on iTunes

Please leave us a review!

RSS Feed

Game # 68 -- LAA (36-37) vs NYY (38-29)

When will the June Swoon end? Pineda gets his second crack at it. Yanks back at full-Aaron strength. Yanks are 9-11 in last 20 games, but 7 of the 11 losses were by one run. That has to change if they are to contend.

LAA

  1. CF: Cameron Maybin
  2. RF: Kole Calhoun
  3. DH: Albert Pujols
  4. 3B: Yunel Escobar
  5. 1B: Luis Valbuena
  6. SS: Andrelton Simmons
  7. LF: Eric Young
  8. C: Martin Maldonado
  9. 2B: Danny Espinosa
  10. SP: Parker Bridwell

NYY

  1. LF: Brett Gardner
  2. CF: Aaron Hicks
  3. RF: Aaron Judge
  4. DH: Matt Holliday
  5. 2B: Starlin Castro
  6. C: Gary Sanchez
  7. SS: Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B: Chase Headley
  9. 1B: Chris Carter
  10. SP: Michael Pineda

1965 -- Mel Stottlemeyer beats the Xxx Xxx 6-3. His pitching wasn't the big deal, it was his inside-the-park GS that was.

Game on WPIX.