For this week's FanPost Friday prompt, we've had On to Lansdowne Street choose Mitch Moreland as the player who was the biggest surprise for the month of April, and gosawks choose Chris Sale. Both worthy choices. I pondered at least one of them myself. And I've pondered a few others on the Red Sox, both positive and negative. But I feel like I haven't been blown away by any of these revelations. They've all performed not too far off from what I'd have expected, and certainly within the realm of what can be caused by small sample sizes. I feel like I'm still probably going to get about what I expected from all of these guys.
So, much as I'd prefer writing about a Red Sox player here, I just have to say Holy What The Just What In The Heck Is Going On over there in New York? Specifically in right field? Who the heck are you, Aaron Judge? Where did you come from? From the Yankees minor league system, which was supposed to be bereft of good young talent? The same system that just produced Gary Sanchez? Why are you suddenly hitting home runs like the next coming of Babe Ruth? Or should I say Hank Aaron? Aaron ... Aaron ... wait a second, your teammate Aaron Hicks has been surprisingly good this year too. Maybe it's the name?
Okay, stop talking crazy Tom, you're panicking here. Get your bearings. So the guy's gone supernova after a slow first week, with a .354/.454/.878 slash line and 1.332 OPS in his last 22 games. So what? And those 13 home runs. Surely he's just lucky? Right? Well, nobody is ever 13-home-runs-in-22-games lucky. But surely he'll regress? Wait, maybe it's that @#$%! short porch they have there in Yankee stadium. Oh, look at that! 10 of those 13 home runs were at home! Only 3 on the road, where he has a quite pedestrian .229/.288/.479 with .768 OPS! Quick, can somebody get me a spray chart that shows how many of his Yankee Stadium home runs would have stayed in the park anywhere else?
Okay, calming down a little. But the thought of two young monster bashers in the heart of the Yankees lineup for years to come - Judge and Sanchez - just how did this happen? The Red Sox were supposed to be the ones with the strong farm system all these years! Did we just lose our window of time over which to dominate the Yankees? Maybe it's just beginner's luck? Or ... the league hasn't adjusted to you yet! Aha ... what is Sanchez doing, anyway? Didn't he tail off at the end of last year? Let's see ... yes ... after his slow first week in 2016 followed by his 19-home-runs-in-37-games assault on AL pitching, with that (GULP) .357/.433/.811 slash line and 1.244 OPS in that span, he hit an anemic .114/.220/.229 (.448 OPS) over those last 10 games of the year, his BABIP crashing down from .368 to .136 to match. And though he's only played 7 games so far this year, the anemic production has continued, at .179/.258/.286 and .544 OPS. Maybe, oh maybe, pitchers figured out how to pitch to him then? This article seems to hint at that. Maybe they'll figure out Judge in a couple of weeks, too? Perhaps these guys will follow the Jackie Bradley Jr. pattern of being world beaters for one month, and sub-standard the rest of the season?
Ugh, these samples are so small! I'm not sure what to make of them. What to trust. Must look for more data ... minor league data ...
Looking at Judge's minor league career, he was a pretty good hitter, but nothing like this. High but not outlandish strikeout numbers; but also above average walks. Pretty good power numbers, but nothing crazy: doubles totals in the 20's, home run totals also in the 20's each year. He probably regresses to something like that. At least when playing on the road. Right?
I'm hoping that sanity is soon restored in New York, and everyone named Aaron who plays for the Yankees starts playing the way we expected them to, and not like this. Because I can't bear the thought that these Yankees may have outplayed the Red Sox in the gathering-good-young-prospects game when I wasn't looking.