Heading into his second full MLB season, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge isn’t taking anything for granted.
Aaron Judge isn’t wired like the rest of us. After a history-making rookie season with the New York Yankees that ended with winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award, lots of folks might rest on their laurels heading into the 2018 season.
“You’re always still trying to win a job, that’s everybody’s mindset coming in here,” Judge told Newsday‘s Erik Boland. “I still have to fight for a job and earn my spot just like everybody else.”
Judge on coming into this camp with a job already won as opposed to last spring: "ou’re always still trying to win a job, that’s everybody’s mindset coming in here…I still have to fight for a job and earn my spot just like everybody else.”
— Erik Boland (@eboland11) February 18, 2018
It’s extremely reassuring to fans to see Judge continue trying to improve on his great 2017 season. It’s even more reassuring that he clearly isn’t holding back when it comes to training after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.
Equally as important as what this quote says about Judge’s mindset leading up to the start of the season is what it says about the team’s mindset. Anyone paying attention knows that the Yankees are widely considered one of the favorites—if not the favorite—to win it all in 2018. That kind of confidence has a way to sneak into locker rooms and create complacency. Complacency is the only thing that can sink the Yankees 2018 season.
In a way, Judge is right when he says that he’s still fighting for his spot. Let me clarify: Judge will be starting in the outfield for the Yankees. I am as confident in that statement as I am in my belief that Elon Musk is destined to become a supervillain.
But there’s a lot of talent in the Yankees outfield. Judge may not be fighting for a spot in the lineup but he’ll be competing with Stanton for their natural position in right field. He could find himself losing time in the field to Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks. Clint Frazier has made it very clear he wants to contribute at the major league level all offseason, that’s even more time the outfielders will have to share. Even Jacoby Ellsbury—somehow— still has a chance to find some at-bats.
So even though there’s no possibility that a healthy Aaron Judge finds himself off the field consistently, it’s reassuring to see that he’s approaching this Spring Training with the same fire that set off one of the greatest rookie seasons in baseball history.