Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees
What’s up: The biggest Bronx Bomber of them all — Judge is listed at 6foot-7, 282 pounds — will be the biggest story of the All-star Game in Miami. He’ll get top billing in Monday night’s Home Run Derby, outshining even Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who checks in at 6-foot-6, 245 pounds. The home run derby has gotten a bit stale, but this year’s event will be a must-see, tape-measure extravaganza. Stanton, you might recall, broke the auxiliary scoreboard when Marlins Park opened in 2012, hitting a rocket off the Rockies’ Jamie Moyer. Earlier this season, Judge launched a homer that flew so high and so far it looked like it was enhanced by special effects. The 495-foot blast was the longest home run in the history of new Yankee Stadium.
Background: Judge, 25, wears No. 99. He wanted No. 44, but that number was retired by the Yankees in 1993 to honor Reggie Jackson. He was the 32nd pick of the 2013 draft but didn’t make his big-league debut until Aug. 13 of last season. He entered the weekend with 29 homers, the most in the majors by a long shot, and Judge could be on his way to becoming only the second player in history to capture the home run crown as a rookie (Mark Mcgwire did it 1987, hitting 49). Judge has already tied Joe Dimaggio’s Yankees record for home runs by a rookie. How popular is Judge? One of his rookie baseball cards recently sold on ebay for $14,665.
Saunders’ take: I’m the kind of baseball fan who loves a well-pitched game, a slick double play and a Nolan Arenado masterpiece at third base as much as a monster home run. Strikeouts are way up this season and so are home runs, so that’s not my favorite brand of baseball. That said, the emergence of Judge is great for baseball. There is an aura around the rookie that’s impossible to resist. He’s an all-star, yet he’s still living out of two suitcases in a hotel in Times Square. He was adopted by two former school teachers and grew up in Linden, Calif., a small agricultural town about two hours from San Francisco. Now he’s shining in the Big Apple. The unanimous verdict: Judge is good for the game. — Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post
The Yankees’ Aaron Judge should put on an impressive show in the Home Run Derby on Monday night.