Monday, June 12, 2017

Judge Rules

So far, this season, the Yankees have scored at least 14 runs in a game 3 times. All 3 were against the Baltimore Orioles, including the last 2 games.

8-2. 16-3. 14-3. Those are the scores from the Yanks-O's series at Yankee Stadium this weekend. These are almost football scores.

(If you're thinking "football," as in soccer, this is about how those scores would apply in that sport: 3-0, 8-1, 7-1.)

In yesterday's finale, the Yankees scored 5 runs in the 1st inning, including Gary Sanchez' 10 home run of the season, and never looked back. Starlin Castro homered in the 6th inning, his 12th, and his 3rd straight game with a homer. Aaron Judge also homered in that inning, and again in the 7th.

Not wanting to start Masahiro Tanaka in this game -- to give him an extra day of rest? to stop the home crowd from booing him if he had another bad game? -- Joe Girardi played musical chairs with the pitching. When you're hitting the tar out of the ball against an opponent, you can do that, and get away with it.

Chad Green pitched the 1st 2 innings, Chasen Shreve the 3rd, Jonathan Holder the 4th and most of the 5th, Adam Warren the rest and then into the 7th, and rookie Domingo German the last 2 2/3rds innings. Neither Green nor Shreve pitched great, but the others did well. Since the starting pitcher didn't go 5 innings, it was up to the official scorer to decide which reliever would be credited with the win, and he chose Warren.

None of that is what people are talking about today, though. They're talking about the home run that Judge hit in the 6th, off Logan Verett. It went 496 feet (originally reported as 495, but now officially entered as 496) to left-center, off the retired-numbered wall.

It broke the record for the longest home run at the new Yankee Stadium, 477 feet, set by Raúl Ibañez, not yet a Yankee but then with the Philadelphia Phillies, on May 22, 2009, off Chien-Ming Wang. The longest by a Yankee had been 460 feet, by Alex Rodriguez on June 10, 2011, off Fausto Carmona (who now uses the name Roberto Hernandez) of the Cleveland Indians.

Dave Kingman supposedly hit a 515-footer at Shea Stadium on August 14, 1981. If that's true, then Judge hit the longest home run in New York City in 36 years. And it was the longest home run at any Yankee Stadium since August 12, 1964, when Mickey Mantle cranked one 502 feet off Ray Herbert of the Chicago White Sox.

That's the longest ever measured at the old Stadium, although it's possible that Babe Ruth may have hit one longer, before measurements tended to be taken. Josh Gibson hit some blasts there in Negro League games, although the myth of him hitting one all the way out appears to be just that, a myth, as the black newspapers never mentioned him doing it at the time. The balls Mantle hit off the facade in 1956 and 1963 did not actually go out of the Stadium, and we'll never know how far they would have gone.

Anyway, Yankees 14, Orioles 3. WP: Warren (2-1). No save. LP: Kevin Gausman (3-5).

Judge is batting .344. He has 21 home runs and 47 RBIs. At this pace, he will win the Triple Crown, the American League Rookie of the Year, and the AL Most Valuable Player. He is also leading the AL in runs scored, walks and total bases. His OPS+ is 202. By definition, the average player has an OPS+ of 100. Therefore, Judge is producing runs at a rate 102 percent better than the average player. To put that in perspective: Babe Ruth is the career leader for OPS+. His was 206.

Aaron Judge is, for the moment, actually comparable to Babe Ruth, with no exaggeration, and no irony.

As an old friend would say, "Holy cow, that's unbelievable."


So here we are, 10 weeks into the 26-week Major League Baseball regular season, and what do we have?

* The Yankees are 37-23. That's a winning percentage of .617, a pace to finish 100-62.

* They lead the AL Eastern Division by 4 games over the Boston Red Sox, 6 over the Tampa Bay Rays, 6 1/2 over the downsliding Orioles, and 7 1/2 over the Toronto Blue Jays.

* In the all-important loss column, they lead the Sox by 5, the O's by 7, and the Rays and Jays by 9 each. (Again, this is due to the schedule not having had all the teams play the same amount of games: The Yankees have a game in hand on the O's, 2 on the Sox, 3 on the Jays, and a whopping 6, an entire week's worth, on the Rays.)

* The Yankees' Magic Number to eliminate the Rays is down to 91, 93 for the Jays, 96 for the O's, and 97 for the Sox: Any number of Yankee wins and Sox losses the rest of the way, adding up to 97, and the Yankees win the AL East.

* Despite all of this, the Yankees do not have the best record in the AL. The Houston Astros are on fire, leading the AL Western Division by 12 games, and we're not even halfway through June yet. The Yankees trail them for the 1st seed in the AL Playoffs by 5 1/2 games. However, they lead the AL Central-leading Twins by 4 1/2 for the 2nd seed. The Wild Card teams would be the Sox and the Cleveland Indians.

* In the National League, the seeds would be, in this order: The Colorado Rockies, the Washington Nationals, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

* The Mets? They're 28-33, 9 1/2 games out of 1st place in the NL East, 9 games behind the D-backs for the 2nd NL Wild Card. You know, about where most "experts" thought the Yankees would be this season. Also, while the Yankees are getting an average of 38,536 fans per game, the Mets are getting 30,334. Allegedly. Officially.

That whole "We're gonna take back New York" thing didn't exactly work out for them, did it?


The homestand done, the Yankees have flown out to the Pacific Coast. Tonight, they begin a 3-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Yeah, they're still using that stupid name. Tonight, Tanaka starts against Alex Meyer. On Tuesday night, an all-initials, no-periods affair, as CC Sabathia starts against JC Ramirez. On Wednesday night, Michael Pineda against Matt Shoemaker.

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