During the 2017 Major League Baseball Home Run Derby, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees once again demonstrated while he's the leading candidate to win both the American League MVP and Rookie of the Year awards.
Coming into the Derby, Judge led the major leagues in home runs hit through the All-Star break with 30. And on the night of the derby, he bested three different guys who have hit 20 home runs themselves this season, en route to dethroning Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins as the Home Run Derby champion.
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On the way to winning this year's Derby, Judge beat out some of baseball's elite sluggers, including Stanton and Justin Bour of the Marlins, fellow Yankees teammate Gary Sanchez, Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies, Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals.
In the first round of the Derby, Judge faced Bour in what resulted in perhaps the most thrilling battle of the evening. After crushing 23 home runs in the opening round -- easily representing the highest total of any player in any round for the evening -- he still ended up narrowly escaping with a victory against Bour, who ended up hitting 22 home runs himself.
Judge faced Bellinger in the second round, with far less dramatics. After the latter hit 12 home runs to start the round, Judge easily cruised past this number by hitting 13 home runs with more than a minute to spare.
In the final round, Judge took on third baseman Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins. Sano went to bat first and started off the round slowly, hitting only one home run through the first two-and-a-half minutes of the round. But he came on strong after calling a time out, pushing his total to 10 home runs, including a 449-footer at the end of the round.
But like in his match up against Bellinger, Judge responded swiftly and decisively, again cruising past his opponent with time to spare. Unlike Sano, Judge came out of the gates hot, crushing home runs off the first three pitches he faced; two of them went for more than 458 feet.
At baseball’s midway point, Judge is hitting .326 with 30 homers and 66 RBIs. He has been anointed by none other than commissioner Rob Manfred as possibly the next face of baseball. As lofty as this might seem, people around the organization say that Judge’s combination of patience, intelligence, and power as a hitter could lead to him to a home run total higher than anything Mickey Mantle ever achieved.
In other words: the Home Run Derby was just another chapter in Aaron Judge’s magical rookie season.