After yet another monstrous day for New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge, it’s safe to ask: when will the show come to an end?
On Saturday night, following a dominating 16-3 victory for the New York Yankees, veteran slugger Matt Holliday declared that rookie sensation Aaron Judge will “hit balls places that no one has ever hit ’em.” Who knew that would come true less than 24 hours later?
In the bottom of the sixth inning on Sunday afternoon, Judge smacked a 495-foot tape measure home run off a hanging slider by Logan Verrett — clearing the bleachers in left-center field. It was the longest home run by an American Leaguer in the MLB.com’s Statcast era and the longest since ESPN’s home run tracking began.
All that came one night after the 6-foot-7, 282-pound outfielder set the Statcast record for the hardest hit baseball thanks to a 121.1 mph bullet home run down the left-field line. Judge owns the Top-4 totals in exit velocity here in 2017 and is making baseball fans everywhere rise in awe.
“Our guys realize it’s special and his power is special,” manager Joe Girardi said following his team’s 37th win of the season. “This is not something you see every day … How can you not get excited over the home run he hit?”
It has become a little more than excitement. Judge is not only hitting home runs at a nightmare-inducing velocity, but after his hitting his Major League-leading 21st home run in his very next at-bat, the slugger has us all wondering if we have ever seen this before. The answer is yes, although it comes with some rarity, to say the least.
Judge finished his day 4-for-4 and two home runs listed next to his name on the stat sheet. Sounds like a great day, until you realize he became the youngest Yankee to go 4-for-4 or better with 2 dingers since Mickey Mantle went 4-for-4 with two homers on May 18, 1956.
The 25-year-old also became just the 11th player in baseball history under the age of 26 to hit at least 21 home runs in his team’s first 60 games of a season — joining Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Jimmie Foxx, Ken Griffey Jr., Wally Berger, Harmon Killebrew, Rico Petrocelli, Giancarlo Stanton, Alex Rodriguez and Prince Fielder.
At this point, no one in their wildest dreams could have predicted this. He’s not only living up to the Giancarlo Stanton-esque comparisons, he’s surpassing them. Sure, Judge did not invent the tape-measure home run — in fact, Stanton’s 504-foot homer on August 6 last season is the longest of the Statcast era — but at no point did the Miami Marlins’ slugger post the numbers Judge is on baseball’s biggest stage.
Along with topping the league in round trippers, Judge is now atop the American League in the other two Triple Crown categories with a .344 batting average and 47 RBIs. That’s not to mention his discipline, as his on-base percentage of .450 has him ranked second in the league in that category behind Mike Trout, who’s injury now makes Judge an early frontrunner for the MVP award.
For now, though, Judge’s resume is premature. Until it becomes an eight-year stretch of rocketing baseballs to the back of major league stadiums, one should not forget about the rookie’s .179 batting average and 44.2 percent strikeout rate during his brief cameo in 2016. Heck, the man himself hasn’t forgotten.
“Not really, especially when I hit .170 [in 2016],” Judge said when asked if he expected this monstrous rise to stardom. Then, he showed us why his teammates speak so highly of him, why his organization already dedicated “The Judge’s Chambers” to him and why he has become perhaps the most prominent story in all of sports since April 1.
“I’m really feeding off my teammates,” he said. “Surrounded by a lot of good players — young and old — who put me in a good spot.”
For the native of Linden, California, it’s about everything except him. It’s about the Yankees’ best 60 game start since 2010. It’s about five straight nights of 45,000 or more fans at Yankee Stadium. It’s about making sure the team — from top to bottom — is better with his presence whether he goes 0-for-6 or hits one into the Harlem River.
That, along with what he’s done with the long ball, is why it’s perhaps time to put the comparison to rest. Judge is doing some next level stuff. Stuff that we haven’t seen for quite some time and just like his mammoth homers, one can’t help but sit back and watch his career take off.