“All Rise, Here Comes the Judge!”
On WFAN, that is part of the home run call by the radio play-by-play voice of the Yankee,s John Sterling, after an Aaron Judge home run.
He is not only the biggest player in Major League Baseball but is quickly becoming one of their biggest young stars. The meteoric rise of Aaron Judge is eerily similar to that of Gary Sanchez a year ago. It is decidedly different though because this is the second go-around for Judge after his initial break through to the major league level was less than stellar.
Going into Sunday, Judge has hit 13 home runs this season, along with 27 RBI and a .320 batting average to go along with a .416 on-base percentage. He has not only a Rookie of the Year candidate in the American League, but he is also an MVP candidate. I know we are just 27 games into the season and Judge the individual has been just as big a revelation as the Yankees have been as a team.
It is more than ironic to think how the team and the player go hand in hand. Judge was a young player that many soured on, just as the Yankees were as a team. Both have surprised this season due to a myriad of different reasons to become the focal point of the baseball fan in early May.
What adds to h the Judge allure is not only his size and power but the sheer force in which he hits the baseball. He has the second hardest hit baseball this season at 117.2 MPH. He has become must-see TV where you drop what you are doing to see what he is going to do next. How far can Judge possibly hit his next home run?
He carries himself like a Yankee. He is calm, cool and confident and even handled his manger comparing him to Derek Jeter as well as you can possibly imagine.
What a difference a few months and a turn of the calendar year make because it was not that long ago when the conversation surrounding Judge was about his 42 strikeouts in 84 at-bats after being called up in mid-August last season. Judge has been well thought off in the Yankees organization since being the 32nd players selected in the 2013 MLB Draft coming out of Fresno State.
The early comparisons were to Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton because of his sheer size and athletic presence and his raw power that generated jaw-dropping batting practice blasts. He is a mountain of a young man, standing 6’7, which adds to the lure. There was never a doubt about his power, the question was what kind of hitter would he become on the major league level. After his initial glimpse, there were many pundits that were ready to turn the page. You heard the initial criticism, lack of pitch recognition, all or nothing hitter, overmatched. After just 84 at bats, Judge had already been weighed and measured and was deemed not good enough.
At the time people failed to look at the adjustments that he has made at every level in the minor leagues. After initial struggles, he figured it out and thrived. His strikeout percentage would go down and his offensive numbers would all rise. We have all witnessed a similar adjustment and a different hitter this year. I never expected Judge to thrive in the style and fashion that he has so far this season, but his approach at the plate is noticeably different and he hits everything and he hits it hard.
But who is the real Aaron Judge? Is he the player that struggled through 84 at-bats in 2016? Or is he the one that burst into stardom this season and captured the imagination of MLB and New York City.
If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere! New York is tough and it can make or break you. Aaron Judge has lived it and learned it. MLB and NYC have not broken Aaron Judge even after his initial failure. He is thriving and the biggest young star in MLB this season calls the Bronx his home.