NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge has revealed that he keeps a note in his iPhone reading ".179," the batting average that he compiled in 27 games at the end of the 2016 season. Through his dizzying first-half success, it served as a daily reminder to remain humble and to continue working hard.
In Judge's last 27 games, he has again batted .179 (17-for-95), which prompted manager Joe Girardi to rest the slugger for Monday's series opener against the Indians at Yankee Stadium. Girardi plans to give Judge at least one more day off in hopes that he can recharge for the postseason push. The Yanks lost, 6-2, on Monday.
"I just thought that he's been missing some pitches that he usually was hitting in the first half," Girardi said. "Sometimes just a couple of days away can refresh a guy and get him back on track. It's not what you really want to do. We've tried a lot of other different things and we're going to try this."
Judge appeared to be a shoo-in for the American League Rookie of the Year Award just a few months ago, as he compiled a robust .329/.448/.691 slash line with 30 homers and 66 RBIs in 84 games prior to winning the T-Mobile Home Run Derby and starting in right field for the All-Star Game.
That thunderous presence has been absent from the heart of the Yanks' order of late, as Judge has managed just four homers and eight RBIs since July 29. Fatigue could be a factor, as Judge has appeared in all but four of the Yankees' 129 games entering play on Monday.
Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson recounted how he hit 37 homers for the Athletics prior to the 1969 All-Star break, but just 10 the rest of the way. He said that he believes Judge is going through a similar "course correction."
"That's what baseball is," Jackson said. "It hits you, it grabs you, it sits you a little bit. It gets you to wake up, gets you to pay attention, lets you know who is boss. But you figure it out. You get it worked out."
As evidence, Jackson referred to Derek Jeter's 0-for-32 slump in 2004, then to the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, who he called "the best hitter in baseball" despite a .254 batting average entering play on Monday.
"They figure you out, and then you figure them out," Jackson said. "That's how that works. You have your turn and then all of a sudden they start planning for you, taking a little more time, going over in their meetings. You get it figured out, get it turned around, and you get on a roll again until you go into another slump."
While Judge has maintained that he is fine physically, the Yankees have wondered if Judge's left shoulder is bothering him more than he has let on. Judge has repeatedly received treatment on the shoulder in recent weeks, wearing a heavy ice wrap during some of his postgame interviews.
"We've talked about it a number of times and he says no, he doesn't think so," Girardi said. "That's another thing you look at as a manager. He's a tough kid. He wants to be out there every day for his team. I'm figuring the rest will probably help all of his body and that's why I'm choosing to do it."
Girardi has said that Judge's personality reminds him of Jeter in many ways, and Judge's desire to remain in the lineup fits into that category.
"He never wants to sit," Girardi said. "He's got some of those character traits of No. 2. You ask him how he is and it's always, 'Good.' Those are things that you have to read through. Maybe being around 2 so often, I learned something."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.