Murti: Feel Free To Ramp Up Expectations For Judge, Stanton

Improved Comfort Level, Health Could Lead To Big Things

Sweeny Murti
February 20, 2019 - 9:33 am
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One year ago at this time I was telling you to pump the brakes and bring the expectations down a little, particularly where it concerned Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton and where those home run totals might go. In fact, I wrote that right here.

Well, maybe it’s time to ramp those expectations back up again. 

As Judge and Stanton stood in together for a round of batting practice at Tuesday’s first full squad workout, it was clear by the crowd reaction A) what everyone came to see and B) they went home happy.

The show was impressive for a first day’s effort -- a couple shots off the batter’s eye, off the scoreboard, over the scoreboard. And Gary Sanchez did his share of damage in the same hitting group, too.

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Last year it seemed too much could go wrong, that it was too easy a script for Judge and Stanton to smash the AL to bits on their way to a combined 100, 110, 120 home runs or more.  It didn’t feel realistic to tell you that was a legit possibility.

Now? Why not?

Stanton took his turn with the media this week telling us, sure he has a better comfort level this year, although he didn’t make a huge deal out of it and certainly didn’t seem too interested in breaking it down any. Judge took his turn Tuesday and let us all know that he is 100 percent healthy -- no problems with the shoulder, no problems with the wrist. He's just coming into the spring like your phone first thing in the morning -- fully charged and ready to go.

Stanton benefits more than other players from seeing pitchers a second and third time. That’s what manager Aaron Boone told us. While the comfort factor may be harder to measure, this is one area that Boone pointed out showed Stanton definitely had a spike in numbers greater than normal. Stanton’s chance to prove that out begins with his second run through the American League.

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Judge, we have to remember, hasn’t yet had a full healthy season. The shoulder issue that popped up right after the 2017 All-Star Home Run Derby remained an issue until September of that season and then required surgery in the offseason. Then the pitch that broke his left wrist last July had him out of action for seven weeks. He hit one regular season home run after coming back, then three in the postseason. But those seven lost weeks cost him another special year.

The climb for players and teams to the top isn’t always linear, I’ve often been told by those in the game, and I’ve repeated that to fans. Rarely is the path to the top straight up. There are usually a few starts and stops and tumbles back down. This is what 2018 looked like for Judge and Stanton, and for the Yankees as a team.

Here it is now all coming together. It’s time to put the pressure back on. Judge is seen as the likely heir to Derek Jeter as the face of the franchise, the homegrown player who fans will identify with for years to come. Jeter won two World Series rings in his first three years in the league. Judge is now entering his third full season.

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Even Boone isn’t immune to chasing a legacy laid down before him. Joe Torre won a World Series in year one, Joe Girardi in year two. 

As a franchise, the Yankees are in a place where they haven’t been in a hundred years. If they fail to win the American League pennant, it will mark their first decade without a World Series appearance since 1910-19.

The slow climb is over.  The rebuild is no longer the story.  The drive to win it all is real.  And the time to ramp those expectations back up is now.

Follow Sweeny on Twitter at @YankeesWFAN