Jun. 19, 2017
The Giant of the Evil Empire: Aaron Judge
Retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was at one point the biggest threat to go deep when the Sox and Yankees clashed during the glory days of the rivalry. But last night at Yankees starter CC Sabathia's fundraiser, Big Papi met what could be the heir apparent to that role in the rebooted rivalry. When asked about the Big Apple's newest attraction, Ortiz said that Aaron Judge was 'the scariest thing I've ever seen,' per the New York Post. High praise for the freak that has taken over the league in so far in 2017.
Aaron Judge has been the biggest reason why the Yankees are back at the top of the American League East in the early-going of the season. He's bursted onto baseball's highest profiled team in a huge way. The 25 year-old monster is only 52 games into his second season in the big leagues and already has heads turning around the country. Judge leads the league with 18 home runs, along with 41 RBI. He's not a guy who just hits for power, but instead proving to be an all-around good hitter. He's currently posting a .324 average, and ranks in at least the top 10 in every hitting category, including 3rd in both slugging percentage and OPS. He's even played great defense, with a handful of highlight reel catches. There's no wonder why Yankee Stadium has already added a section in right field called "The Judge's Chambers."
The Yankees drafted the young phenom in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Fresno State. He grew up a 3-sport athlete, and even had a chance to play college football. After quickly flying through the ranks of the Yankees farm system, Judge made his debut last August against the Rays. In his first at-bat, he hit a home run off Rays starter Matt Andriese, and the Judge had officially arrived in New York.
Judge is not a young prospect, he's a man. In fact, he's a Giant. It's almost like he was built in the basement of Yankee Stadium, just waiting to unleash hell on the rest of the league. Judge is built like an NFL linebacker, rather than a right fielder playing professional baseball. He checks in at 6'7", 282 pounds, easily the biggest player in the league. Hard to believe, but he's even bigger than Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronk is 6'6", 265 pounds. Imagine if Judge were a tight end in the NFL?
The Giant of the Evil Empire has easily been the Rookie of the Year through the first quarter and a half of the season. Judge leads all rookies in home runs, RBI's, average, slugging, and OPS. Although I still think Sox rookie Andrew Benintendi will be in the running by the end of the year, Judge at the moment is running away with the Rookie of the year and will most likely take home that award. He might even take home MVP honors. Only Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki have won both the MVP and Rookie of the year awards in the same season. Judge is making a very strong case to be the third, especially if the Yankees stay in the thick of the race.
He's become one of the most fun players to watch in the league. For a league that already features stars like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, Judge has the potential to eventually be in that same class. Anyone who says baseball doesn't have enough stars hasn't tuned in to watch this guy yet. He even puts on shows in batting practice. The other day in Toronto, he was crushing balls that were hitting the hotels that are in the outfield at Rogers Centre.
The only team that probably doesn't have fun watching him would be the Red Sox, who he abruptly introduced himself in the first meeting of the season between the two in April. On his birthday, Judge crushed last years Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello's inside pitch to opposite field over the right field wall. Oh, and he even showed off his defense, chasing a ball down and flying into the crowd. Judge has already started mashing against the Yankees biggest rivals, and he'll look to continue his early fury throughout what should be a tight division race between the old rivals.