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JUDGING AARON AND JOEY BY THEIR STRIKEOUTS

By Murray Chass

May 19, 2019

In his 20th game of the season Aaron Judge, the New York Yankees’ multi-talented right fielder, strained a muscle and took himself out of what in the last few years has become my favorite individual batting race of the season.

I’m referring to strikeouts. They fascinate me. I don’t understand how major league hitters can strike out so much. I don’t understand either how major league pitchers have so much trouble throwing strikes, but that’s a question for another day. Today I will deal with the frequency with which batters strike out.

In his first full season in the major leagues, 2017, the year he was voted American League rookie of the year, Judge led the majors with 208 strikeouts. He was in position to repeat last season until he was hit by a pitch and suffered a chip fracture of his right wrist, causing him to miss 45 games. At the time, he had struck out 137 times to 138 for Joey Gallo and 139 for Yoan Moncado.

This season Judge strained his left oblique April 20 and has missed the intervening month. The Yankees have not speculated on when he will be able to resume playing, rendering the ailment more serious than anyone would have initially thought.

Oblique injuries are relatively new. They might have happened in years past, but no one ever heard of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig suffering oblique injuries. That is not meant to question or belittle Judge’s ailment. No one in Ruth’s and Gehrig’s days knew what a glioblastoma was, but today we know it is a fatal brain tumor that has killed a dozen former major leaguers (Bobby Murcer and Gary Carter, for example) and others associated with Major League Baseball.

In baseball’s more ancient days, if a player pulled a muscle of any kind, he played in spite of it because he knew someone was waiting to take his place, and if he didn’t play, he would find himself out of a job. Today M.L.B., has the injured list, known until this season as the disabled list.

Teams are quick to put ailing players on the I.L. for two reasons: They quickly get a healthy replacement for the injured player, and the player, even if lightly injured, doesn’t risk aggravating the ailment.

In the case of the type of injury Judge has, teams are …

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METS’ MEDICAL MATTERS, GOOD, BAD AND UNCERTAIN

By Murray Chass

May 12, 2019

Tom Seaver, Ed Kranepool and Ron Darling all played for the New York Mets. Seaver and Kranepool were teammates for 11 years, from 1967 through 1977. Seaver and Darling were teammates for the final month of the 1983 season.

All three players, of course, are now retired, but in recent weeks they have been brought together in a way that is less than ideal.

About two months ago Seaver’s family revealed that the Hall of Fame pitcher was suffering from dementia and would withdraw from public participation. Several weeks ago Darling stepped away from his role as an analyst on Mets’ telecasts, disclosing that doctors had discovered a mass on his chest. Subsequent surgery revealed that he has thyroid cancer.

Kranepool, who at the age of 17 had two at-bats for the Mets in 1962, their first season, has emerged from the Mets’ medical malaise in the most positive condition of the three former players. Last week he received a …

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CREDIT VINCENT FOR YANKS’ CHANGE

By Murray Chass

May 5, 2019

They are not Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, nor Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra or Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson. They are not in the class of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada. But they have caught my attention nonetheless, and the infusion of new players on the New York Yankees roster has prompted what some might see as a strange thought.

The Yankees and their fans owe former commissioner Fay Vincent a debt of gratitude. They castigated Vincent when he threw George Steinbrenner out of baseball in 1990, but 30 years later it has turned out to be the best thing that happened to the organization.

With Steinbrenner removed from the daily operation of the Yankees, General Manager Gene Michael was …

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