I'm not sure what to think about this slogan Yankee fans say whenever Aaron Judge comes up with a big hit. As a Red Sox fan I think it's very corny. But if I were a Yankee fan I would be tweeting it constantly.
I'll admit that I'm surprised to see Judge playing so well this year. He looked so bad after his call up last season that at the very least I thought it would take him a while to figure out major league pitching. It was a short sample in 2016 but the dude struck out in 44% of his at bats. That's overwhelmingly worrisome. The reason for optimism around the 6-foot-7, 275 pound right fielder entering 2017 was that he had a track record of struggling in his first stint at a new level. So far that looks to be the case as to exactly what happened. Through 20 games he leads the American League with nine homers and a .718 slugging percentage.
The 25-year-old has had a lot of great moments this year. But the game that stands out to me was Wednesday night against the Red Sox. Judge began his night by homering off the reigning AL Cy Young winner before making a ridiculous catch in the stand later that night. The catch, shown below, was particularly impressive considering how difficult right field at Fenway is to play. It was a big game and Judge showed up in a big way. He and Yankees pitcher Luis Severino teamed up to basically beat the Sox by themselves.
Speaking of Severino, he's been the breakout star of the pitching staff for the Yankees in 2017. Pitching in Boston marked the biggest test of his season thus far and the 23-year-old responded with seven shutout innings. Over his past three starts Severino has an incredible 27-to-3 strikeout to walk ratio in 22 innings. During this span he has a 2.05 ERA. After failing as a starter last year Severino looked so good out of the bullpen that you couldn't have blamed the Yankees had they made a permanent switch. At least so far they've easily made the right decision.
I liked the Yankees a lot entering this season, and I wasn't expecting much of anything out of Judge or Severino. So you can imagine how highly I think of the team now. Entering Saturday afternoon New York is 14-7, which is tied with the Orioles for the second best record in baseball. What's scary is they've done it without Gary Sanchez. What's scary is they have shortstop Gleyber Torres, a consensus top three prospect, waiting in the wings. What's scary is that this core of great, young players are going to be reaching the beginning of their primes just as the team is going to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado or both. The Yankees are young and hungry. They're talented and dangerous. And they're coming.