Tuesday, February 28, 2017
TAMPA—A decade ago, Matt Holliday changed. Realizing he couldn’t catch up to the heat of some major league pitchers, he started kicking out his left foot and pushing off his right the way boxers unload haymakers.
Holliday was 25 years old. Aaron Judge, turning the same age in April, has made the same realization, the same change. And the Yankees have put them in the same corner of the George M. Steinbrenner Field clubhouse.
Plant, meet sunlight.
“I think he can help Aaron a lot,” manager Joe Girardi said.
Before the Yankees brought in Holliday, a seven-time All-Star, to be the designated hitter on a one-year, $13-million deal in December, they already had big immediate plans for Judge. They wanted him to win the starting right field spot over Aaron Hicks outright and cut down on his worrisome strikeout rate. In 94 plate appearances last season, Judge whiffed an incredible 42 times.
So, that ask hasn’t changed.
Here’s what has: Now, Judge, at 6-foot-7, has sitting next to him the 6-foot-4 man he used to study on YouTube in his off time. He studied him because he’s been one of the game’s best hitting outfielders for a long time, studied him because of his power.
It will be pretty difficult for Holliday to be worth $13M as a DH and part-time corner OF this season. However, he may provide value as a mentor to Aaron Judge that could pay off for years and I wonder if that was part of the reason the Yankees signed him this offseason.