Wednesday was the midpoint of the Yankees’ 2022 season. Through 81 games, they not only had the perfect record (58-23) in Major League Baseball, but in addition they were on a pace to match the 1906 Chicago Cubs and the 2001 Seattle Mariners for essentially the most wins (116) in a 162-game regular season.
One among the most important reasons for the Yankees’ success is outfielder Aaron Judge. Entering Wednesday night’s game at Pittsburgh, he led M.L.B. with 29 home runs, was fifth in on-base plus slugging percentage at .972 and tied for sixth in wins above substitute, in line with Fangraphs.
Judge’s future, though, has hung over the Yankees all season. A longtime Yankee who says he desires to remain in pinstripes, Judge will probably be eligible free of charge agency for the primary time in his profession after the season. Despite an attempt by the Yankees to sign him to a long-term extension before the regular season, he will probably be allowed to — and he indicated he would — seek advice from all 30 teams over the winter. But until then, he has said, he doesn’t wish to negotiate.
“Irrespective of what happens through the season, we’re not going to provide any updates,” Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ managing general partner, said Wednesday on a video call with reporters.
“We’re just not going to do it,” he continued. “I completely agreed with Aaron — and still do — that by no means, shape or form can this be a distraction. The only focus is winning a championship. That’s all anyone needs to fret about at once.”
The 2022 M.L.B. Season
“Calm down, all right? Don’t attempt to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls, it’s more democratic.”
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Before the season, Steinbrenner authorized the front office to supply Judge an extension that will have guaranteed him $213.5 million for seven years. Despite the season Judge has had — he’s on a pace to match or top his 2017 season, during which he won the American League Rookie of the Yr Award and was the Most worthy player runner-up — and the way his price tag has probably gone up, Steinbrenner said he had no regrets in regards to the Yankees’ rejected offer.
He said the team’s proposal was “a excellent one” and based on the numbers and “what he means to this organization.” Due to the labor fight with the players over the winter, Steinbrenner said, the lockout cut down on the time the Yankees could have negotiated with Judge before the season.
But still, Steinbrenner said, the team would have discussions with Judge after the season. He said he was hopeful that Judge, who turned 30 in April, stays in pinstripes, but “there’s lots of discussion available.”
“He’s been phenomenal,” Steinbrenner added later.
Winning a World Series, which can be the Yankees’ first since 2009, may help Judge’s case for a record-setting contract for an outfielder. Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, 30, a three-time A.L. M.V.P., averages $35.5 million per 12 months through 2030.
Despite entering the season with many questions on whether or not they had done enough to enhance, the Yankees have been the perfect team in baseball. Behind the right-hander Gerrit Cole and the left-hander Nestor Cortes, the pitching rotation has been the backbone of the roster. The bullpen has found stability in Clay Holmes and Michael King while Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton and Jonathan Loáisiga handled injuries.
But most improved are the lineup (notably dropping its strikeout rate) and the defense, by replacing catcher Gary Sanchez with Jose Trevino and shortstop Gleyber Torres with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and moving Torres to second base.
“I didn’t spend $300 million to do it, but I believe most individuals are pretty blissful with Isiah and the job he’s done,” said Steinbrenner, presumably alluding to the team’s record payroll for luxury tax purposes of $259 million, which trailed the Mets ($288 million) and the Los Angeles Dodgers ($302 million). Steinbrenner faced criticism within the off-season for holding on to top shortstop prospects and never signing a prized free-agent shortstop equivalent to Corey Seager or Carlos Correa.
“I knew we had a team that was able to great things, but I’m not going to sit down here and say that I absolutely knew that they’d be off to the historic start that they’re,” Steinbrenner said. He called the team special not just for its performance on the sector but within the clubhouse.
Steinbrenner also pointed to latest members of Manager Aaron Boone’s coaching staff — specifically the hitting coach, Dillon Lawson — as key reasons this season has gone higher for the Yankees, who were 92-70 in 2021 and fell to the Boston Red Sox within the A.L. wild-card game. After rating below average last season, the Yankees’ offense (five runs per game) has trailed only the Dodgers (5.04 runs per game) in scoring this 12 months.
When it comes to potential ways to fortify the roster ahead of the Aug. 2 trade deadline, Steinbrenner said he had not yet sat down with the front office. He said a team could never have enough pitching, and he reiterated his reticence to trade top prospects.
Steinbrenner predicted his team might face the Houston Astros, who won the since-tainted 2017 World Series title and have been a tricky opponent since, within the playoffs. He also daydreamed about an all-Recent York World Series with the Mets, who’ve been among the best teams within the National League.
“To have two good teams is a superb thing, and boy that’s what we’ve got,” he said. “And meeting within the postseason, I’m all for it. It means I’ll be there.”