Aaron Judge is a big dude, in every meaning of the word. He’s tall, strong, got lots of money and influence, and he even plays in the Big Apple. However, being a mammoth of a man comes with its downfalls: short door frames are a thing, getting into cars becomes much more of a hassle, it becomes much more difficult to find a comfortable spot in bed, and in baseball, you get called out on strikes on a lot of pitches low of your zone.
Since entering the league, no player has had more balls called strikes on him than Aaron Judge. Most of those balls are coming in low, below Judge’s knees, and Yankees fans and broadcasters have had just about enough of it.
In his career, Judge has seen and refused to swing at 1,096 pitches at or below the bottom of the strike zone. 720 of them have been called strikes. That’s a totally disproportionate number. In 2022, he’s seen 143 such pitches… and 102 of them have been called strikes.
Judge has fallen victim to poor umpire play far too often, and despite the Yankees’ best efforts to inform MLB of their grievance, there really isn’t much MLB can do about it.
Like what can they do, seriously? Tell umpires to be more lenient to Aaron Judge when he’s at the plate? Just look at his stats. That’s definitely not going to fly. The fact is that the low strike is one of the hardest pitches to call for an umpire. At least with high pitches, the umpire can visually compare where the ball crossed the plate to the player. However, the view of a low pitch is often, at least somewhat, obstructed by the catcher. Oftentimes, umpires just have to go on instinct, or judge the call based on how they called it for other players earlier in the game. Unfortunately for Judge, that often means getting strikes called that are actually balls.
The obvious answer to fix this is robo-umps/an ABS (Automatic Balls and Strikes) system. However, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has stated that he wants to implement such a system by 2024. That’s a season and a half away.
So, until 2024 comes. There really isn’t much Judge or the Yankees can do. That said, while I’m sure the Yankees are crying their eyes out over Judge’s enormous strike zone, I’m sure they’ll cheer up when they look at either the current MLB standings or Judge’s stats this season. Sometimes you just have to take what you have. Judge is still mashing and is considered a top-2 candidate for AL MVP currently.
Boo hoo! He’s facing a little bit of prejudice from umpires inadvertently. Cry me a river. Worry about re-signing him. That way, when robo-umps are introduced in 2024, you can get your revenge. Until then, deal with it.