Believe it or not Aaron Judge leaving the Big Apple and going to Miami to play in that lime green stadium for two days is exactly what the doctor ordered. The guy is not human, Yankee fans know this already but he was able to put those inhuman talents on display in front of the whole world during the Home Run Derby.
In the first round he was matched up against the hometown darling, Miami Marlins first baseman, Justin Bour. The man put up a hell of a round with 22 HR, the casual fan probably thought that Judge was toast, had no chance to come back. Me? Never been less worried. This is when the show started. The guy started hitting absolute shots, he hit one off the roof (which they didn’t count which made no sense) and one over the nonsense sculpture lighting dancing fish thing in left center field that was recorded at 504 feet. Judge got in a rhythm and put up the best round of the night of 23 to get to the next round against the other rookie sensation in baseball this year, Cody Bellinger.
Bellinger got his swings in and you could tell he was absolutely gassed. He only hit 11 HR and even he said he only had a “-12” chance to move on. Pretty accurate odds. Judge went up and made quick work of the Dodgers first baseman as he beat him two and a half minutes in to the round.
In the finals he faced off against Minnesota Twins first baseman Miguel Sano who beat the other Yankee in the semifinals, Gary Sanchez. Would’ve been pretty sweet if it would’ve been a Gary vs Judge all Yankees final but Gary was gassed too after using all of his energy to knock off the one seed, defending champ, in his home ballpark, Giancarlo Stanton in the first round. Judge made quick work of Sano finishing him off even quicker than Bellinger, winning the Home Run Derby with two and a half minutes left on the clock again.
Yes, the Home Run Derby is completely meaningless, but it isn’t the fact that Judge won it that was impressive, it was how he won it. The guy hit the 4 longest HR of the night, all 4 over 500 feet, the farthest being at 513 feet. Haters would say “It’s BP, sure he can do that.” Yeah well he hit one 495 feet in a game, 18 feet shorter than this one in “BP.” It’s not BP power, it’s legitimate “this guy is a superhuman” power. He also didn’t just pull everything like basically every other power hitter in the game does, he went opposite field. He hit 24 to the left of center field and 23 to the right of center. That’s the ultimate brag when you’re hitting oppo homeruns in the derby.
This showing made Aaron Judge the face of baseball. Now yes I’ll admit, he’s not the best player in baseball (yet). But being the best player in the sport doesn’t necessarily make you the face of the sport. It’s a mixture of many different things. Some of the things that separates Aaron Judge from guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper is the makeup. Aaron Judge is a giant of a human being which makes him literally and figuratively stand above the rest. He also is extremely humble which makes him an extremely likable personality, even for being a Yankee which obviously is one of the most hated teams in sports. And the obvious thing that separates him from Trout and Harper is the Yankee factor. Trout is in LA, a huge media market, but he’s a Los Angeles Angel, not a Dodger which gets much more media presence. Harper is in Washington, a big media market but not for sports, they’re all focused on the Trumpster. Aaron Judge is on one of the most marketable teams in all of sports, in the biggest media market in the world and this year he is without question a top 5 player in baseball. Yes, the batting average may go down, he may not ever be a .300 hitter again in his career. But the guy will continue to hit HR for years and years to come and you can absolutely sell dingers, especially with how far he hits his. Even the commish Rob Manfred said at a Baseball Writers’ Association of America event on Tuesday that Judge is a player “who can become the face of the game.”
Baseball…the face of your sport resides in the Bronx…again