One month ago at the All-Star break, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks were having two wildly different seasons. Judge led the league with 30 home runs, won the Home Run Derby, and was on pace to win not only the AL Rookie of the Year, but maybe the MVP as well. Meanwhile, Hicks was on the disabled list after suffering a strained oblique on June 25. Prior to his injury, he was hitting .290 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs.
Fast-forward one month, and the two Aarons’ seasons have seemingly reversed.
Judge has heavily regressed since the All-Star break, batting just .161 with five home runs and 12 RBIs. He has also struck out in 30 straight games, which is a Yankee record. While no one expected him to be as good as he was in the first half, his drop-off is very alarming.
He might not even be frontrunner for Rookie of The Year, as the Red Sox’s Andrew Benintendi could overtake him if he continues to perform this badly. Some say it’s a case of pitchers figuring him out, taking advantage of his large strike zone and throwing down and away instead of near the middle where he can take full advantage. If that’s the case, then he needs to adjust and figure out ways to hit those pitches. The sooner he can end this long slump, the better.
On the other hand, Aaron Hicks just returned from the disabled list, and made an immediate impact. His two-run home run jumpstarted a five-run rally in the eighth against the Red Sox on Friday, ending the Yankees’ seven innings of offensive futility. Then in the ninth, he threw out a runner at third to complete a double play, helping Aroldis Chapman escape from a bases-loaded no-out jam. He made another great play last night, laying out to rob Eduardo Nunez of an extra-base hit.
It’s a small sample size because he just came back, but if he continues to perform like this, he will be a valuable part of the Yankees’ playoff push and beyond.
It’s been an interesting season for both Aarons, and the final chapter will play out over the next month and a half or longer. Can Judge finally rebound and return to his first-half form? Can Hicks continue to make big contributions after returning from an injury? If the answer to both questions is “yes,” then the Yankee can be optimistic about making a deep playoff run.