Aaron Judge Should Expect More Intentional Walks as He Pursues Home Run Record
Aaron Judge is used o the opposition pitching around him, but on Wednesday the Twins didn’t even pretend to engage with the Yankees slugger.
Minnesota intentionally walked Judge 3 times during a double-header. New York won both games, and the outfielder hit his 55th home run of the season in the first contest. The blast came before the Twins walked Judge a total of five times between the two games.
While Judge did strikeout three times Wednesday, it became obvious that Twins manager Rocco baldelli didn’t want to have anything to do with the MVP candidate when it was tight.
Judge has been intentionally walked 14 times this season; he’s tied for the major league lead with Mets first baseman Pete Alonso. Judge also leads the American League with 85 bases on balls, and he is fourth in the big leagues with a 14.5 BB%. Judge is a good catcher and has always drawn free passes despite his high strikeout numbers. However, his previous career-high for intentional walks was 11, set in 2017 when he clubbed 52 homers as a rookie. He received just nine intentional walks from 2018-2021.
Now Judge is chasing Roger Maris’ single-season American League home run record of 61, and perhaps more. However, a historic home run pace and a decimated Yankees lineup seem to be obvious reasons for other teams that they should copy the Twins’ strategy as much as possible down the stretch.
Aaron Boone believes that, but Judge isn’t spending too much time discussing the matter.
“He said no, but he didn’t think so when asked if he expected the intentional walks to continue. “I don’t want to think about that because I still have to be mentally ready. If I get intentionally walked it usually means that there are guys on-base in a major situation. I have to stay locked in and try to not think about it. If I get walked, then pass the baton to the guy behind me, and I know they’ll get it done.”
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While the Yankees were able to beat Minnesota twice Wednesday, the state of New York’s offense is actually what gave the Twins added incentive to intentionally walk Judge.
Anthony Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu are all injured or on the disabled list. The Yankees’ rest of the current lineup has been inconsistent, unproductive or spent most of their season in the minor leagues. Consider that Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza, Estevan FLorial, Miguel Andujar, Miguel Andujar, and Ronald Guzman all pitched at least one game for the Yankees on Wednesday.
Spring Training-style lineups offer little protection for Judge, and leave spectators asking why anyone would pitch to him given his achievements this season. Judge doesn’t seem to be concerned about this.
” I’m not too concerned about whether we’re missing men or not,” he stated. “I would love to have Rizzo. I’d love to have DJ in there, Big G. But the guys that are stepping up are doing their job.”
Judge’s support for his teammates is to be expected, but so are intentional walks if the Yankees keep trotting out groups like the ones they did in the double-header. Judge isn’t the only one who can beat teams. More walks could affect his home run chase.
But Judge will still be able to get pitches to hit, as the Twins proved. He must make the most of these opportunities until the Yankees have more players.
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.