Derek Jeter is not in today’s lineup. Yesterday was Derek Jeter’s birthday. I have a feeling those two things aren’t a coincidence.
An I think I speak for everyone when I say that there are a lot of times that I wish I was Derek Jeter.
Anyway, Jeter is now 38 years-old and is still the starting shortstop for a championship caliber team, he’s hitting .305 and there is no legit argument that he doesn’t deserve that job. So much has been written about him over the years, lots of overheated praise, lots of legit criticism and vice-versa, but it’s undeniable that we’ve been watching one of the best ever for all of these years and sometimes it’s worth simply appreciating that.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: