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Breaking down Yankees slugger Aaron Judge

New York Yankees v Seattle Mariners Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge might just be the best hitter on the planet right now. The reigning American League MVP has a triple slash line of .298/.410/.679, 195 OPS+, and leads the league with 18 home runs. Judge is a fantastic hitter and is borderline impossible to get out at times. Although, not only is Judge a great hitter, he has also quietly been one of the best defensive outfielders in the MLB over the past few seasons as well.

Now, every great player does have a weakness to their game which Judge does have at the plate. Down below we are going to break down how Dodgers pitchers might attack him, what that weakness is, his potential performance against Friday’s starter Clayton Kershaw, and his impact as a fielder.

Weakness at the plate


Despite seemingly destroying every single pitch he saw last season and in the early going this season, the one pitch that has continued to cause Judge issues is the changeup. Against changeups this season he has a .060 xBA, .124 xSLG, .215 xwOBA, a hard-hit rate of 28.6 percent, and whiff rate of 48.8 percent. Last I checked numbers like that aren’t good. The only problem though is traditionally pitchers don’t throw same sided change ups meaning Bobby Miller, Sunday’s probable starter, who throws his changeup 22.5 percent of the time likely won’t utilize it much against Judge. Friday’s starter Clayton Kershaw does have a changeup in his repertoire but he’s only thrown it seven times this season so it would be a bit surprising to see him attack Judge with it often if at all.

Clayton Kershaw matchup

This is a really interesting matchup. Traditionally, a big slugger with the platoon advantage is always going to be favored, but that actually might not be the case in this one. Last season Judge posted a triple slash line of .274/.388/.622 against left-handed pitchers compared to a .322/.436/.706 triple slash against righties and there’s an even bigger gulf this season between the two splits.

Judge has had up-and-down success against sliders which is Kershaw’s most used pitch this season so the safe bet is Judge will see a steady diet of them on Friday. However, on the flip side Judge mashes four seamers, Kershaw’s second most used pitch, with 46 homers against them since the start of the 2021 season and a combined +48 run value over that time frame. This is a really tough matchup to predict but I’m going to say Judge goes 1-for-2 against Kershaw with a single, walk and strikeout.

Impact in the field

Over the course of his career, Judge has been an extremely steady defender. Since his debut in 2016 he has a cumulative 32.3 ultimate zone rating (UZR), 21 outs above average and 58 defensive runs saved. On top of that, his average of 90.9 MPH on his outfield throws is in the 89th percentile. All in all, the former MVP has 40 outfield assists meaning Dodgers players might want to think twice before testing his arm. It is a bit of an unknown as to where Judge will play in the field in this series as Harrison Bader’s placement on the injured list has opened the door to him moving back to centerfield.