Can you trust the Yankees without Aaron Judge?

The New York Yankees have gone from favorites to win it all in the offseason to a team that has disappointed fans before the All-Star Break. The reason? Injuries, questionable management, and unrealistically high expectations in what seems a year-after-year behavior for the franchise since its last World Series title in 2009. 

Aaron Judge has been one of the few real spotlights for the Bronx Bombers in the last decade. After winning Rookie of the Year in 2017 and despite many injuries plaguing him throughout his career, he has become the face of New York baseball. He solidified his status in 2022 winning the American League MVP award and got rewarded with a 9-year contract worth $360,000,000. 

The Yankees announced Aaron Judge would be placed on the Injured List for an indefinite time on June 6th (retroactive to June 4th) with a sprained toe, since then they have a 5-7 record, falling 9.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the standings of the always competitive AL East. Let’s check on MLB odds of the Yankees without their most productive bat.

A Judge-less offensive 

With Judge in the lineup the Yankees average 5.0 runs per game, without him they fall to 3.4. Even if their pitching has been one of the best in the game with an ERA of 3.75 (6th in MLB), the offensive woes are a significant cause for concern as no other player has really stepped up to a level of offensive production similar to what Judge gave them. 

In the last 15 days, the Yankees have a batting average of .230 (26th in MLB) and an OPS of .632 (27th worst) while losing 3 of the 4 series since Judge’s injury, two of them to the Boston Red Sox, one of those being a sweep in Fenway Park. Still, they hold one of the three wild card spots in the American League (along with the Baltimore Orioles and the current World Series Champions Houston Astros) with the LA Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, and Boston Red Sox trailing by less than 3 games. 

The rest of the team hasn’t provided the offensive output general manager Brian Cashman envisioned while putting together the team. Anthony Rizzo has a .146 average the past 15 days, joined by veterans Giancarlo Stanton (.088 and 14 strikeouts), Josh Donaldson (.091), Harrison Bader (.143), and DJ Lemahieu (.185) in the collective slump affecting the Bronx Bombers. 

So…who’s going to step up? 

Gleyber Torres has been one of the few bright spots in the Yankees offense the past two weeks with an OPS of .858. Billy Mckinney has 3 homers and 5 RBI with an OPS of .992 and an average of .317 playing mainly left field. Lefty-swinging Jake Bauers has been hitting the ball really hard (better than 89% of the league) leading to 7 extra-base hits in his last 15 games. 

In the AAA affiliate of Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, there are some players that could contribute immediately to the team at the cost of sending down some of the struggling players like Oswaldo Cabrera (.189) and top prospect Anthony Volpe who hasn’t been able to adapt to MLB pitching, even though he has shown flashes of the franchise cornerstone the Yankees envision in him. 

Esteban Florial has been punishing AAA pitching with 19 homers and an OPS of 1.004. Top prospect Oswald Peraza, who seemed like Volpe’s biggest competitor in Spring Training, has been hitting the ball hard with an OPS of .923 and 11 stolen bases. Their impact in the MLB club won’t be instantaneous but looking at how things are faring in the Bronx, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to try to shake things out at the top of the chain. 

Without Judge, the Yankees don’t have an immediate triumph card that will fix their bats, but they do need a change to come quickly if they want to keep up with the competitive hunt for the American League playoffs.