The New York Yankees (14-7) have gotten off to one of the hottest starts in the league after missing the playoffs last season. Surprisingly, though, their five-time All-Star Aaron Judge has been lagging behind.

The team captain has struggled mightily, slashing .179/.323/.359 with three homers and 11 RBI. The star outfielder sounded off on Yankee fans booing him after he struck out four times in New York's 2-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday, via SNY.

“I've heard worse and I'd probably do the same thing in their situation,” said Judge.

The 31-year-old has the worst batting average in the entire starting lineup, which is ironic considering that he often carried the offense throughout the last couple seasons. Fellow outfielder Juan Soto has been the straw stirring the drink since arriving to New York, slashing .354/.469/.608 with five homers and 20 RBI.

Has Judge regressed significantly since his record-breaking 2022 campaign? Or is this just a small bump in the road?

Aaron Judge will most likely rise again as a Yankees leader

New York Yankees centre fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits a two run single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the ninth inning at Rogers Centre.
© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

All players go through slumps, and Judge's track record should lend him some benefit of the doubt. The 31-year-old has never hit below .267 across a full season of games, which happened last year. Even in a relative down year by his standards, he still crushed 37 homers, driving in 75 runs. It was the former AL Rookie of the Year's fourth-highest single-season home run total, also tying for tenth in the league.

Of course, the slugger is just two years removed from his historic 2022 campaign, when he slashed .311/.425/.686 with 62 homers and 131 RBI. Judge led the league in runs (133), homers, RBI, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS (1.111), OPS+ (210) and total bases (391). He also led the AL with 111 walks. Judge's 62 homers broke Yankees legend Roger Maris's AL single-season home run record, only trailing Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire for the league-wide record. Of course, those three players had the advantage of playing in the steroid era.

While Judge may not reach his 2022 heights again, it's unlikely that his skill has actually dropped off as much as his current numbers suggest. There's still plenty of time to turn things around, as he mentioned postgame via SNY.

“It's still early, you know. It's a long season,” Judge said. “Just missing the pitch. If I get a pitch in the zone, I gotta capitalize on it. I think that's what it comes down to, don't miss your pitch when you get it, and take walks when you don't get anything.”

Once Judge does turn things around, it could be a scary sight for the rest of the league. With Soto in the lineup, the Yankees finally have a consistent star to compliment Judge, something they sorely lacked in recent years. Soto has been good enough to lead New York to first place in the division, even with Judge's struggles.

If Judge can even get back to last year's level of production, as well as Soto continuing to play well, Aaron Boone's squad has a serious chance to reach its first World Series since 2009. Luckily for New York, the veteran seems mentally unflappable, which isn't easy to achieve when playing for one of the world's most unforgiving fanbases.