Not just relying on his big frame, Aaron Judge has worked to develop an advanced approach at the plate to reach a high level of success this season, writes Billy Witz for the New York Times.
"It's a project," Judge said. "Ever since I got drafted by the Yankees, I've been working on my swing. So it's just a culmination of all those things, and I'm finally starting to see some results."
Accoring to Witz, it has been subtle tweaks that have helped Judge the most this year, like reducing a leg kick in his stride and placing more weight on his back leg. According to former Yankees catcher and current Astro Brian McCann, Judge's ability to stay balanced has been a huge help to the slugger this year. He's also improved his ability to hit breaking pitches.
"The big thing is, it's about learning which off-speed pitches to swing at," Judge said. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, this guy can't hit a curveball, this guy can't hit an off-speed pitch.' But it's about swinging at the right one. Swing at the hangers. Swing at the ones you can handle."
With all the changes at the plate, Judge is swinging at fewer pitches out of the strike zone and putting more balls in play that are in the strike zone. It's all led to strong results, as he is first in the AL homers (30) and slugging percentage (.655) tied for second in RBIs (66) and fifth in average (.313). However, he has struggled recently, recording just one hit over his last 18 at-bats since the All-Star break.
"He kind of went through a tough stretch for the first time this year," manager Joe Girardi said Sunday. "It's going to happen. But I feel pretty good about his at-bats and it's going to get him back on track."