Wendell Cruz | USA TODAY Sports

Bernie Williams is someone who knows great leadership.

I recently spoke with the former Yankees center fielder and though we talked more about his Tune Into Lung Health initiative, he made a point to shout out the new Yankee captain. Williams said the Yankees “are going to do very well this year” and “gotta beat the Astros,” and saved some more praise for Aaron Judge.

“I think it was a great step to sign Aaron Judge,” Williams said. “I think they can build a team around him. They made him the captain. There could not be a better person to represent the team.”

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Williams would know from experience. He won four World Series rings in five years and was there for Derek Jeter’s rise to the captaincy. Additionally, he was a favorite of former Yankees general manager Gene “Stick” Michael. He developed the core group of prospects, including Jeter and Williams, that helped establish the 1990s Yankees as a championship dynasty. Williams thus knows better than most what makes a winning clubhouse.

And though Williams didn’t directly compare Judge to Jeter, even he sees the similarities in their stoicism.

Coming from the clubhouse dynamic that I had before, Derek was a guy that was not a rah-rah guy. Not a very vocal guy,” Williams said. “He was a guy that led by example. And I see Aaron Judge kind of taking that approach. He was very instrumental in leading the team on a certain path.”

New York re-signed Judge to a nine-year, $360 million deal in the offseason and named him captain at the subsequent press conference. Win or lose, he is the team’s leader for the next decade. Williams, for one, thinks he’s ready.

“He’ll lead this team very positively,” he said. “That is my hope.”

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.