For years, New York Yankees’ fans have recognized Aaron Judge’s talent to play baseball, but always complain that he is incapable of staying healthy for a full season. Before this year, the last time he played something close to a full campaign was in his breakthrough year, in 2017, with 155 participations.
Likewise, Yankees’ fans were even rougher on Giancarlo Stanton. Not only they ridiculed him for being injury-prone, but a portion of fans were critical on his production and his ability to provide big, timely hits.
It’s safe to say that those concerns have been erased somewhat. Perhaps not fully erased, but both men showed that they can stay healthy and be productive for a full year.
Judge played 148 of 162 games with the Yankees in 2021, or 91 percent; and Stanton took part in 139 contests this season, or 85 percent. Having both men playing most of the games is huge for the Bombers’ chances in 2022, because those two were the ones who carried the team all year long.
By weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+, three Yankees regulars were above-average performers (a wRC+ over 100) on offense: Anthony Rizzo, with 113, Stanton, at 137, and Judge, with 148.
The Yankees’ top two producers by far
Judge and Stanton were a tier and a half above everybody else, and this is something the Yankees will need to fix during the offseason. But having those two sluggers healthy and producing is a very good start.
Judge slashed .287/.373/.544 with 39 homers and 98 RBI. Perhaps more importantly, he improved his strikeout rate to 25 percent, and provided some huge hits, like the game-winning single against Tampa Bay in Game 162 to force a Wild Card game against the Red Sox.
Stanton hit .273/.354/.516 with 35 blasts and 97 RBI, and had a huge series against the Red Sox in the next-to-last weekend of the season. He was also the one bat to show up for the Yankees in the Wild Card game, with two balls hit to the Green Monster and a late homer.
As long as both men are healthy, they should be the top two offensive producer for the Yankees for the foreseeable future, provided that the team is able to extend Judge’s stay beyond 2022.
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