Former batting champ and current New York Yankees DH Matt Holliday had some praise for Aaron Judge, and it was more than a just a compliment.What we are witnessing from New York Yankees rookie right fielder Aaron Judge is borderline unprecedented.
The 6-foot-7, 275-pound power generator entered play on Saturday with nine home runs on the young season after smacking yet another home run on Friday night. Don’t he can top that in less than 24 hours? Well, he did. And it was remarkable.
Facing Orioles’ reliever Jayson Aquino in the bottom of the seventh with the Yankees up 10-2, Judge put a charge in a 91.4 mph fastball and although it was an inside-out swing, the righty was powerful enough to muscle it into the bullpen to pad an eventual 12-4 win for New York with his tenth home run of the year.
He’s now slashing .301/.393/.767 with two doubles, one triple, 20 RBIs, 22 runs and his 10 long balls tied him with Jose Abreu (2014) and Trevor Story (2016) as the only rookies to reach the double-digit home run mark in the month of April.
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) April 29, 2017
No, I’m not about to put this kid into Cooperstown and make room for his plaque in Monument Park, but apparently, Yankees’ designated hitter Matt Holliday is willing to compare him with the greats.
“He’s probably the most gifted baseball player I think I’ve ever been around,” Holliday said following Friday’s epic come-from-behind win. “I mean, he’s 6-foot-8, 275 pounds. He moves really well in the outfield. I’m not saying he’s going to be the greatest player who ever played, but as far as when the guy hit a 97 mph fastball that was a line drive that the shortstop jumped for and it went off the fence … He can do things that I haven’t seen and I’ve played a long time.”
First off, Holliday knows what he’s talking about. The 37-year-old has been in the game for 14 years as a member of Colorado Rockies (2004-08), the Oakland Athletics (2009) and the St. Louis Cardinals while earning a trip to the All-Star game six times and winning the batting title back in 2007.
However, take a moment to understand his statement. “The most gifted baseball player I think I’ve ever been around.” Do you realize the company Holliday just put Judge in? Here’s a list of the best players, sorted by wRC+ throughout his tenure with that squad, that have played with New York’s DH since he broke into the league:
- Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (164)
- Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies (135)
- Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals (132)
- Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals (127)
No pressure, kid. That’s a comparison to one first ballot Hall Of Famers, two borderline Hall Of Famers and one who has registered the most base hits in the National League since 2013.
OK, OK. Perhaps “most gifted” wasn’t the right word to use or maybe Judge ends up being as great or greater than the names Holliday threw his teammate’s name up there with. One thing’s for sure, tough, just is definitely doing things with the bat that we have never seen.
On Friday night, with the Yankees down 9-2, Aaron Judge lined a missile to center field off right-hander Kevin Gausman and by the time it landed into Monument Park in center field the youngster was rounding the bases after just breaking Giancarlo Stanton’s Statcast record for the hardest home run ever hit (119.4 mph).
— LetsPlayBall™ (@iLetsPlayBall) April 29, 2017
Entering play on Saturday, there were 22 baseballs hit with an average exit velocity of 115 mph or greater across major league baseball. Judge, who entered 2017 with tons of question marks, is responsible for seven of them including two of the three hardest base hits of the season.
So, slow down. Be excited that this monstrosity (literally) is going down before your very own eyes, but also soak it in and enjoy the rate and speed in which baseballs are flying out of Yankee Stadium by a man larger than life .