Baseball is exciting for many reasons. One of the most exciting reasons is when the young players come up through the farm system and get a chance to put their stamp or imprint on the game. This is exactly what young phenom Aaron Judge is doing.
First drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 31st round in 2010, Judge chose not to sign. Then in 2013, the New York Yankees drafted him in the first round. He signed six days later with the organization. Judge, in his first full season with the New York Yankees is taking the league by storm. His peers around the league are all in awe of the play and accomplishments this rookie is displaying.
Selected the American League rookie of the Month for April; Judge raised his average to .330 and had six home runs in his last six games. He also has hit the second-most home runs through 26 games in Yankee history, one behind Alex Rodriguez, who did this in 2007 with 14. His 13 home runs lead all of Major League Baseball. Second, is Ryan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals with 11. His 27 RBI are tops in the American League, and third in all of baseball. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 2.5 is tops in all of baseball.
Judge had to make adjustments from his call-up last year, where he didn’t have much success. His 15-for-84 with a .179 batting average showed that. He did have four home runs, although his 42 strikeouts were alarming in just 27 games.
New York is 11-0 when Judge hits a home run. The right fielder, who turned 25 last week, tries to deflect attention towards his teammates and other well-known Yankees.
A strength of Judge is that he stands so far off the plate, opposing pitchers can’t really get inside on him, and because of his long wingspan, he still possesses tremendous plate coverage. He has made those adjustments from last year and you can be sure there will be another round of adjustments made by the pitchers. I have compared Judge to another former Yankee giant Dave Winfield, and I am not alone in that comparison. Others in the media feel the same way with the presence shown in the batter’s box and his raw display of power.
One person he impresses is his manager Joe Girardi. That is impressive in its self, as Girardi is the one who makes the lineup.
“He is a little bit like Jeter for me. He has a smile all the time. He loves to play the game. You always think he is going to do the right thing on the field and off the field.”
Former Yankee great Derek Jeter on Judge:
“The good thing about him is you can tell from his demeanor and his attitude that he wants to improve, he wants to be better, and he handles himself in the right way, not only on the field but off the field. So I’m a fan of his.”
On hearing Jeter’s comments, Judge had this to say, “It’s incredible, especially a guy I looked up to for years growing up. To hear him say that, it’s humbling.”
Back in 2014 people took notice of Judge. A coach in the Yankees’ system and former big league player JD Closser is also impressed.
“When Aaron was playing with us in high A, you could see the no panic in him. The confidence he displayed. His leadership and the ability to make adjustments.”
When asked about watching him taking batting practice, “It was epic. He would hit balls that you could only admire,” said Closser.
That was not the only stage where Judge impressed that year. He was part of the Arizona Fall League that year. The AFL is where top prospects come and display their talents against other top prospects to gauge their progress. Seeing Judge in the AFL, you knew one day he would put it all together.
This is good for baseball, good for the Yankees, and good for the game to have a giant (no pun intended with Judge being 6’7”) star in the making. To do this playing in New York wearing the Pinstripes, that’s huge.