DETROIT — In his second season and batting in the second spot in the Yankees’ order, Aaron Judge, quite simply, is the Second Coming.
Why does Judge absolutely love batting second in this Yankees order? It comes down to his personality and his willingness to help the team.
Judge is batting .340 on the season with a .470 on-base percentage and is currently powering through an 11-game hitting streak — when the Yankees can sneak in a game between the cold and the rain.
Over that span, the big fella is hitting .390 with a .528 on-base percentage and a .654 slugging percentage.
Batting second is home now.
“I really like it,’’ Judge told The Post at Comerica Park after the Yankees-Tigers game was rained out Saturday. “I like being in the action right away. I always hated it like when last year I was hitting like seventh, eighth or ninth, I had to sit there and wait around, wait around, wait around, the anticipation would build.
“But batting second you’re in it. There is no time worrying about what [the pitcher] is going to try and do. It’s like, ‘Hey, let’s go!’ ’’
His second at-bat can come just as quickly with the Yankees’ deep lineup that features Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius.
Batting in the two-spot, Judge said: “I’ve got no pressure on me with the team we’ve got. With ‘G’ the reigning MVP and Didi and Gary, I’m having fun. With [Brett Gardner] leading off and getting on base.’’
Don’t forget, Judge is coming off left shoulder surgery after winning Rookie of the Year honors.
“I knew I probably wouldn’t start off as hot as I wanted to because I missed a lot of swings in the offseason,’’ he said. “I knew spring training was going to be a grind and the beginning of the season was going to be a grind because I would be getting used to seeing curveballs again. In spring training I’m just trying to get my timing for a fastball and all of a sudden the season starts and I’m not getting all fastballs then. It was a couple games getting my timing in and now the biggest thing is just sticking to my plan.’’
The plan is working. Swing at pitches he can handle, be patient at the plate. All that avoids a sophomore slump.
“If I can just stick to that and touch first base as many times as I can, good things will happen,’’ Judge said.
Let your talent glow.
To understand Judge’s impact, consider these words Gregorius said: “I’m just amazed with everything he can do. He’s tall, he’s fast, he does all of the above. He and Gardy set a tone at the top of the lineup.’’
That tone and Judge’s team-oriented personality and superstar power are the reasons manager Aaron Boone put Judge at the two-spot in his lineup.
Judge has what I call base-ability.
“Strip away the 6-7, the 282 pounds, and he gets on base all the time,’’ Boone said. In Judge’s 28 games batting second in 2017, he hit .327 with a .467 on-base percentage.
Batting second is home.
“Even though I’ve toyed with him in the leadoff spot against some lefties, and I did it once in spring, I’m reluctant to do that just because I like the opportunity of having traffic,’’ Boone said. “With who we are able to hit behind him, he is going to be on base all the time and over the course of 162, you slice it up we are going to score a lot because of it.
“I will never put a ceiling on Aaron, and what he is capable of doing, he’s a great player.”
Last year, Judge bashed 52 home runs and scored 128 runs to lead the American League.
“Between the ears he’s really good and understands what teams are trying to do to him, he develops a great plan,’’ Boone noted. “He always wants to and is ready to play, always looking for the advantage. He’s kind of a perfect competitor.’’
And the perfect No. 2 hitter.
Published at Sun, 15 Apr 2018 06:49:52 +0000