On Sunday, Major League Baseball announced the entire AL and NL rosters for the upcoming All-Star Game. Despite the New York Yankees mediocrity, they have three players named to the All-Star team. The three are Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, and Aroldis Chapman. This is Judge’s third All-Star Game as a starter. As for Cole and Chapman, this is their 4th and 7th All-Star nods, respectively. The timing of the announcement on Sunday was certainly interesting because it came right after Cole and Chapman had arguably their worst outings of the year.
In a July 4th doubleheader against the Mets, Cole pitched 3 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, four ER, three walks, and six strikeouts. It was the shortest outing of his Yankees tenure and his shortest since 2016. Meanwhile, Chapman was brought on in the 7th with a 5-4 lead to close out the game. He proceeded to allow a leadoff home run to Pete Alonso. In all, he did not record an out while allowing one hit, three runs, a walk, and a hit batter. As bad as it has been recently for both players, their All-Star nods are still more than deserving. Let’s have a look at their seasons thus far.
It should not be forgotten that Chapman was having a legendary season up until a couple of weeks ago. Through June 6th, Chapman owned a 0.39 ERA with 12 saves, striking out 43 batters in 23 innings pitched. In fact, up until May 23rd, Chapman had yet to allow a single earned run, thus his ERA was a sparkling 0.00. Of course, recency bias is very real and many fans will only look at what Chapman has done lately to say he is not deserving. His struggles primarily started in his outing against the Minnesota Twins on June 10th. In that appearance, he did not record an out while allowing four runs and two home runs. This outing raised his ERA from 0.39 to 1.96, which is still elite.
Chapman has pitched 5 2/3 innings with a 22.24 ERA, which is ugly, to say the least. However, as recently as June 16th, this is what his numbers looked like on the season:
25 1/3 IP, 45 SO, 11 BB, 14 SV, 16 K/9, 1.78 ERA, 2.45FIP, 1.74 xFIP
While June 16th was nearly three weeks ago, these numbers show just how dominant he was even with that June 10th outing. It would have been preposterous to say Chapman was not a deserving All-Star back on June 16th. The Yankees are currently 10 games back in the AL East, with Chapman being one of the reasons for that with his recent stretch. With a 4.71 ERA, 4.20 FIP, and 6.3 BB/9, it is hard to say Aroldis Chapman should be an All-Star, yet it can’t be forgotten how good he was until mid-June.
Gerrit Cole is another Yankees pitcher who has had a tough go lately. His overall numbers on the season look great, as shown by his 2.91 ERA, 3.04 FIP, 11.6 K/9, 0.96 WHIP, AL-leading 135 strikeouts, and his 6.75 K/BB. Cole’s decline since the start of June coincides with the league’s crackdown on foreign substances. He has seen big drops in spin rate on all of his pitches, especially his fastball, which has been the best in the sport since 2018. This has understandably altered the way in which Cole pitches and how he attacks batters. With that said, strikeouts are down as well. Regardless, there is much confidence that Gerrit Cole will be able to turn it around.
Since the start of June, Cole has pitched to a 5.24 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 11 walks in 34 1/3 innings. His last two starts have been his worst two of the year, combining to allow nine earned runs in 8 1/3 innings. Similar to Chapman, Cole was having an elite season up until this recent stretch. Prior to his start against Boston on June 27th, Gerrit Cole was the favorite to win the AL Cy Young award. At that point, he had a 2.33 ERA, 2.59 FIP, and was still succeeding despite large drops in spin rate. Cole’s numbers look much better than Chapman’s but their recent performances make it hard to accept that they are All-Stars. Even with this poor stretch, Gerrit Cole is still a deserving Yankees All-Star.
Let’s not let the poor pitching of late overshadow what Aaron Judge is doing this year. He is having a great season and has been the most consistent Yankee to this point. His .284/.379/.523 line amounts to a .902 OPS and 147 wRC+. While his 2.5 fWAR is not outstanding, he does have 3.0 bWAR. Regardless, both figures point to Judge being on pace for a 5+ WAR season. He has hit 19 home runs and driven in 43. His .387 wOBA ranks 16th in baseball yet his .434 xwOBA ranks 3rd. Despite a poor defensive start to the season, Judge has already racked up 6 defensive runs saved (DRS). On the whole, Aaron Judge has been one of the best players in baseball this season, as is usually the case when healthy.
Being healthy has been the key for Judge thus far in 2021. Fans are finally getting to see what Judge looks like when consistently on the field. Aaron Judge has played 78 of 83 games this season; Stanton 63 of 83. Being voted to start the All-Star Game for the third time in his career, Judge is one of the most popular players in the league. His .239 ISO would be the lowest of his career, yet it still ranks 25th in the sport. Judge owns a 13% walk rate, along with a career-low 25.8% strikeout rate. All in all, Aaron Judge is putting on All-Star performances day in and day out.
Outlook on the Yankees All-Stars
Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, and Aroldis Chapman are the three players to represent the Yankees in the MLB All-Star Game on July 13th. Yes, Chapman and Cole have been subpar lately, but their recent stretches underscore their seasons as a whole. On the other hand, Judge continues to be the Yankees’ best player and most deserving All-Star. Chad Green, Gary Sanchez, and Jonathan Loaisiga are the only other Yankees who merit All-Star consideration. Whether Cole or Chapman actually pitch in the game remains to be seen as both could use some time off to regroup for the second half. Regardless, it is nice to see three Yankees be named All-Stars despite the team having a rough season to date.
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