The New York Yankees have had loads of power hitters throughout their history. Some of the most celebrated and colorful sluggers of all time have worn the pinstripes, But it’s been awhile since Yankee fans have had a player who provides those “must-see” at-bats That is, until OF Aaron Judge came on the scene this spring.
Judge actually came up late last summer and gave the Yankee fans a taste of what he has in his arsenal. He homered in his first at bat and then followed it up with another blast in his second MLB game. But, that was the silver lining. Judge also showed how green he was by hitting .179 and striking out in 42 of his 84 times to the plate. But the seed had been planted. There was a new bomber in the Bronx.
This spring Judge won the right field job out of camp and has not looked back. Bigger than life at 6’7”, 282 pounds, the 24 year-old first round selection out of Fresno State has seized the opportunity and has not only the Yankee fans, but baseball fans in general on the edge of their seats when he comes to the plate.
“We are all just waiting for that time where everything just syncs up and he gets every bit of it,” Yankees third baseman Chase Headley told reporters last week. “I want to see him do that. He is just a humongous human being that has out-of-this-world power. Five hundred fifty feet is not out of the question. If there is nothing in the way, he is hitting it 550.”
Judge is tied for third in the AL and tied for eighth in the Majors with 6HR this season. But that is not the most impressive part of that stat. According to MLB Statcast, Judge has hit three of the Yankees’ four HRs of at least 435 feet this season, including his career-long 457-foot shot last Saturday in Pittsburgh. His blasts travel far and high, like Dave Kingman’s used to. Anyone who remembers Kingman will admit they never left their seat until after he hit. The same now goes with Judge, who currently ranks third in the AL with a .639 slugging pct. (Mike Trout-.679, Khris Davis-.651).
Very few players, if any, with his physical stature have been seen in baseball. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Judge appears to be the biggest position player of all time. Dave Winfield and Kingman were both 6’6” but weighed nowhere near what Judge weighs. Frank Howard was 6’7” but he was listed around 235 pounds.
The Yankees are 11-7 to start the 2017 season and Judge is one of the reasons why. With Judge in the lineup, Yankees batters are averaging an AL-best 5.11 runs per game (92R/18G) this season, third in the Majors behind the Cubs (5.42) and Arizona,(5.33). The new Bombers ere tied for fifth in the Majors with 26HR, hitting at least 1HR in 13 of their 18 games with multiple HRs in nine of those games. The also rank second in the Majors in OPS (.783), third in slugging (.443), fifth in OBP (.340) and sixth in BA (.261).
Judge is on his way to becoming a star on River Ave. He is only the third Yankee under the age of 25 to hit at least 6HR in the team’s first 17 games since 1913, joining Yankee legends Bobby Murcer (7HR in 1969) and Mickey Mantle (9HR in 1956). He is also the first Yankees right fielder to hit at least 6HR in the team’s first 17 game since Winfeld in 1988 (6HR).
But the Yankees have a glut of young talent in their system. Once dubbed as limited, Judge aims to stay in the lineup and manager Joe Girardi believes that could happen.
“I think there are a lot of tools there,” Joe Girardi said before last Saturday’s 11-5 win over the Pirates. “I think he throws extremely well. I think he’s accurate and has a lot of arm strength. I think he runs the bases well. I think he’s a complete player. Sometimes when you have a guy that size you might have to substitute him defensively late in games, but I’m not going to do that with Aaron because he’s a good defender as well. He’s a complete player.”
Let the legend grow.