After struggling mightily in his first stint in the majors in 2016, Aaron Judge broke out in a big way in 2017, slugging 52 home runs while driving in 114 runs on his way to claiming the American League (AL) Rookie of the Year honor as well as finishing second in the AL MVP race. But now with the massive (literally) acquisition of reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton, the New York Yankees’ lineup is going to be dangerous from top to bottom, and one question for rookie manager Aaron Boone is where to slot Judge, the six-foot-seven, 282-pound right fielder.

In 2017, Judge spent most of his time hitting in the three-hole, being penciled in there for 62 games. He played 30 games batting fifth, and 28 batting second, where he stayed much of the latter part of the season as well as the postseason. With teams typically liking to stack right-handed and left-handed hitters, Judge seems prime to return to the second spot in the lineup.

While Judge did strike out a league-leading 208 times, he actually improved somewhat in that area from his time in the Bronx in 2016. His strikeout percentage went down from 44.2% to 30.7%, and the percentage of times he swung at pitches out of the zone also decreased, from 33.6% to 24.7%. The league average for the latter stat in 2017 was 29.9%. These stats, along with the fact that he led the AL with 127 walks, show that he has a good eye is able to make adjustments.

Furthermore, Judge saw 4.41 pitches per plate appearance last season. The man likely to leadoff for the Yankees and thus hit directly ahead of Judge, Brett Gardner, saw 4.24 pitches per plate appearance. This means that both are fairly good at working the count and seeing a decent amount of pitches. Judge also had a weighted on-base average (wOBA) of .430. wOBA differs from the traditional on-base percentage (OBP) in the sense that it uses weights to account for how a player reached base. For example, a double is worth more than a single. Judge’s mark was second in the entire league only to Mike Trout’s .437.

However, as seen many times last season, Judge’s kryptonite is the slider. He hit a measly .154 against the pitch, and pitchers constantly went to it to get him out, especially down the stretch and in the postseason. So perhaps pitchers will pound him with sliders out of the zone. Judge must realize this by now, and if Gardner were to see four or five pitches leading off, would a pitcher want to throw pitches out of the zone if Judge is able to utilize his good eye? Of course, he would have to prove that he can lay off those sliders, especially if they are just off of the plate. But even if he does not, he still could work the count. He worked the count full 172 times last season (25.4% of his plate appearances), and if we take the average pitches per plate appearance for Gardner and Judge as noted above, that could very well add up to eight or nine pitches for the pitcher. All of this is before the pitcher would have to face some combination of Greg Bird, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius.

Therefore, Judge could excel in the two-hole in 2018, and with the addition of Stanton to an already lethal lineup offering him protection, he could see more pitches in the zone that he can handle. If he is able to handle those anywhere close to how well he did in 2017, the Yankees will be thrilled.

This article first appeared on and was syndicated with permission.


Jimmy Butler to undergo surgery, could return in 4-6 weeks

Jaguars keep Blake Bortles with multi-year extension

Jonathan Martin being held in mental health facility

Was South Korean snowboarder wrongly awarded giant slalom win?

Mark Emmert suggests college basketball needs big changes


Dez Bryant has advice for young players: Don't play hurt

Oh no, Geno Smith is now a flat Earth truther

Parsons, Gasol got stuck in Miami elevator at 4 AM

Ballmer: Chemistry issues led to the trade of Blake Griffin

Brewers describe Shohei Ohtani’s fastball as firm but flat

Medical issue holding up J.D. Martinez's Red Sox contract

Mr. T gives pep talk to US curling team ahead of gold-medal match

Sports & Politics Intersect: Cuban forced to face culture of misogyny in Mavs front office

The 'Let’s play QB roulette' quiz

NHL Weekender: Playoff races heat up as trade deadline looms

14 NBA X-factors who will tip the scales in the postseason

MLB breakout candidates for the 2018 season

No one wants to jump with Dennis Smith Jr.

NFL players who could be traded before draft

Negro Leaguers every baseball fan should know

Top MLB Cy Young candidates heading into 2018

The greatest barrier-breaking African-American moments in MLB history

Faltering Blackhawks face tough decisions at deadline

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Cuban forced to face culture of misogyny in Mavs front office

MLB breakout candidates for the 2018 season

The 'Let’s play QB roulette' quiz

NHL Weekender: Playoff races heat up as trade deadline looms

No one wants to jump with Dennis Smith Jr.

The 'Kawhi so serious?' quiz

Top MLB Cy Young candidates heading into 2018

25 best MLB players under 25

The 'Red Sox finally get their guy' quiz

MLB's top 10 first basemen for 2018

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker