These are the Yankees and accustomed to being represented in the All-Star game. Next week the results of a good first half to the season and the rise of their youngsters will be on display in Miami. Even more special is the night before when rookie sensation Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez lead the pack for the American League in the Home Run Derby.
Judge, selected to his first all-star game led the AL in votes with 4,488,702 and will be the first rookie represented from the league since Hideki Matsui in 2003 and the youngest player to lead the AL in voting since 24-year old Ken Griffey Jr. in 1994.
For Sanchez, he is the first Yankees catcher to make the All-Star team since Russell Martin in 2011, the third Yankees catcher to make the All-Star team at 24 or younger in the company of Thurman Munson and Yogi Berra.
Judge and Sanchez will feel at home. Three other Yankees will join them in Miami at Marlins Park next Tuesday evening and also take in the Home Run Derby festivities that have become an annual spectacle for Major League Baseball and the fans.
Dellin Betances will be an All-Star the fourth straight year, Luis Severino is the first Yankees starting pitcher to be selected since Masahiro Tanaka in 2014, and Starlin Castro was named to his fourth career All-Star team.
And there could be six Yankees going to Miami next week. If online fan balloting goes his way, shortstop Didi Gregorius will join the party.
But the celebration at Yankee Stadium on Monday afternoon, and prior to opening a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays, was the Yankees unveiling their All-Stars and four from the Dominican Republic that include Betances, Castro, Sanchez and Severino.
Manager Joe Girardi had no issues with Judge and Sanchez participating in the Home Run Derby. There is a concern that Judge, leading baseball in Triple Crown categories of average, home runs and RBI, could risk an injury or come out of the competition as a different hitter.
“He will remain disciplined,” said Girardi about Judge. “He understands and it will not be hard for him to keep his approach.” The reference again was Judge, and at his level quickly adapted for hitting the ball to all fields and any concern of hitting balls out of the park at a rapid pace should not hinder his production.
Sanchez, coming off an injury to his bicep has not fully recovered though his numbers during the past week have improved. He has 9-home runs in his last 25 games.
“I am honored and looking forward to this opportunity,” he said.
When asked who he was rooting for, Judge or Sanchez in the Derby, Betances said,“Rooting for both guys in the Derby. This is going to be the best game for me . There’s going to be a bunch of guys going from this team.”
Indeed there will be a huge Yankees presence, and it has happened before. During those four Yankees World Championship championship years from 1996-to-2000, the Joe Torre managed Yankees had six players representing the American League All-Stars.
Castro, selected as a reserve, said he will be in Miami next week regardless if the left hamstring strain prevents him from playing. He is currently on the 10-day disabled list and is undergoing daily treatments.
“If I play or not I will be there,” he said.
Judge claimed the late decision to enter the Home Run Derby was attributed to being more focused on winning ballgames for his team. He leads baseball and the AL with 27 home runs going into play Monday night and has the second highest home run total for a Yankees rookie.
Quickly becoming the newest Yankees sensation, the team opened up the gates early Monday to see him in the cage for batting practice.
Named the Al Player for the month of June, Judge failed to hit a ball in the stands at BP because threatening clouds pulled the Yankees off the field. But next week will be one of those thrills. Making it better is being joined by his teammates, also a testament as to how successful they have been and what the Yankees have achieved in the first half with this arrival known as “The Baby Bombers.”
“Will be a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s the hard work I put in and the help I get from my teammates and coaches.”
Girardi won’t be in Miami with his players as they take in those special moments. But this manager understands the significance of the All-Star game and spectacle of a Home Run Derby.
“I will be dialed in,” he said. And when asked, Girardi would not make a pick as to either Judge or Sanchez prevailing. He just wants his players in Miami to have fun and take in the moments that are special about the annual Mid-Summer classic.
“The TV will be on in the house and I will pay attention,” he said.