Before we get too far into this, let us remind ourselves that Aaron Judge is a rookie, and we should be just as patient with a rookie’s struggles as we are measured in our praise of their successes. Or, wait, I’m being told, yes, it seems we in fact spent the first three months of the baseball season proclaiming that Aaron Judge was the second coming of Babe Ruth. Darn.
Last night Judge set the all-time Major League Baseball record for most consecutive games with a strikeout in a single season, when he was rung up by Chris Sale in the top of the fifth inning. It was the 36th consecutive game in which Judge has struck out, a streak that stretches back all the way to July 8. Over that span, Judge has struck out an incredible 62 times. For a point of reference, Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals has struck out 64 times total this season, in 113 games.
Judge is, as they say, scuttling. Since July 8 his batting average has dropped from .330 to .285. His OPS (1.014) is still the kind of thing Maikel Franco would have to crack the Matrix to achieve, but it has dropped significantly from the lofty 1.149 of July 7. And Judge’s signature move, the hellacious donger, is less and less a part of his daily output—he’s smoked just seven since the strikeout streak began, or about one for every 23 plate appearances, well below the bonkers one-per-12-plate-appearances he’d produced before July 8.
There are those who will use this late-summer swoon as evidence that big league pitching has solved Aaron Judge, and maybe that will wind up being true, but I urge you to remind yourself that Judge is, after all, a rookie. Maybe that’s something Judge fans should’ve been reminding themselves the whole time. Certainly that’s true of whoever it was who paid $157,000 for one of his damn jerseys.