There's not a great reason to pitch to Aaron Judge right now outside of the fact he's protected in a deep and fearsome New York Yankees lineup. The Boston Red Sox, in their limited wisdom, opted to throw balls within his prodigious arms' length all weekend and paid dearly. Last night the pinstriped slugger blasted two homers, including the go-ahead homer in the eighth. He drove in five as the sweep was realized.
All told Judge smacked four longballs and brought home eight in three games. All he's done over the past five is homer in each and collect 13 RBI. He leads all of baseball in dingers, steaks, slugging percentage, and is second in OPS. The latter two categories check in at a comical .903 and 1.275.
This is the part where a level-headed writer would point out that there's simply no way a player could continue this level of production over the course of a full season. But this is a unique circumstance. New York only has 52 contests remaining. And if they go anything like the first eight, both Judge and the team will be in the driver's seat for very good things.
That would be excellent news for yours truly, who got excited back in 2017 and predicted the 6-foot-7 man would win multiple MVPs and eventually be enshrined in Cooperstown. It's a hot take that felt great at the time but hasn't aged all that well — thanks large in part to Judge's inability to stay healthy, not so much his play while on the field.
Each of the past two years have brought 27 homers in 112 and 102 games, respectively, with the OPS hovering between .919 and .921. These would have been good enough for Top 10 in the American League had he had enough at-bats to qualify.
All of this to say that Judge has been good in limited action. His star has dimmed a bit, eclipsed by more reliable and spectacular shiny new objects, including several in his own clubhouse. Yet he still may be the most pure bopper in the game, a cartoonish ideal of what a cleanup hitter looks like even if he usually hits second.
It's amazing that we can forget about a guy who routinely hits the ball 465 at face-breaking speeds but, hey, there have never before been this many entertainment options.
The jury may be out on the long-term viability of Judge dominating the league and capturing his first MVP. What's clearer is that, right now, his is also the executioner of all things seamed.