New York Yankees: Slugger Aaron Judge is Yankees’ sole All-Star

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees will have a sole starter at the All-Star game. For the third time in his career Yankee slugger, Aaron Judge has been elected to be the starter in right field at the Mid-Summer Classic at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies. The game will be Tuesday, July 13, in Denver.

Judge garnered 13% of the vote of AL outfielders in phase two of the balloting, as reported by ESPN during the 2021 Google MLB All-Star Starters Reveal.

The Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout led the outfield vote with 19% of the vote, with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Teoscar HernandezJudge finishing behind Judge with 12%. Those will be the starting outfielders for the All-Star game. DJ LeMahieu, a finalist in phase one of the voting, came out third in the phase two voting. Although he will not be the starting second baseman, he may still be chosen for the final roster, which will be announced on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET during the 2021 Google MLB All-Star Selection Show on ESPN.

Starting pitchers have a different selection process; they are selected by combining fan voting and MLB Commissioners’ office choices; we will have to wait a bit longer to find out if Yankee ace Gerrit Cole will be selected.

New York Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge has had a somewhat checkered history with the Yankees, mostly caused by his inability to stay on the field. However, judge still has the ability to become a Yankee superstar. So let’s start at the beginning with Judge’s path to the Yankees, and bring up to the 2021 season.

For the New York Yankees, on April 27, 1992, an African American biracial baby was adopted by Wayne and Patty Judge a day after he was born; that baby was Aaron Judge. When Judge was old enough to understand, his parents told him, he was adopted.

Growing up in California, Judge was a San Francisco Giants fan. Judge attended Linden High School, where he was a three-sport star. He played as a pitcher and first baseman for the baseball team, a wide receiver for the football team, and a basketball team center. He set a school record for touchdowns (17) in football and led the basketball team in points per game (18.2). In addition, he was part of the Linden High School team that made the California Interscholastic Federation Division III playoffs in baseball.

You can imagine with this sports record that Judge was heavily recruited by teams like Notre Dame, Stanford, and ULCA as a tight end, but Judge wanted to play baseball. He was selected in the 2010 draft by Oakland but wanted to attend college instead. He played for Fresno State, where he was named a Freshman All-American. In 2012 he won the TD Ameritrade College home run, Derby. During the summer of 2012, he played for the Brewster White Caps of the Cape Cod League. This is where I may have seen him play and when he was drafted #1 by the New York Yankees. In his junior year with Fresno, he led the team in home runs, doubles, and RBI’s. In 2013 the Yankees selected him in the draft, and he signed with the Yankees for a 1.8 million signing bonus. He joined the team but was injured in running drills that kept him out of the season.

In 2014 Judge had a .333 batting average with the Charleston River Dogs of the Class A South Atlantic League. The Yankees invited him to spring training in 2015, and he ended up playing for the Trenton Thunder. He played only 63 games with them before the Yankees promoted him to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre. In 2016 Judge found himself on the DL again, this time with a knee sprain. He ended the season with the Rail Riders batting .270 with 19 home runs in just 93 games.

In 2016 Aaron Judge made his major league debut in August of the year. In
his first at-bat, he hit a home run. He also hit a homer in his second game, becoming the only player to do that since 1980. But again, Judge found himself on the DL, this time with a right oblique strain, the same injury that has caused him not to play last year. In 2017 he was named right field starter for opening day. 2017 was filled with firsts, like the first multi-home run game, first grand slam, and the MLB Rookie of the month award. Judge was named the AL Player of the Month for June, batting .337 with 10 home runs, 25 RBIs.Judge broke Joe DiMaggio’s record for most home runs hit in a Yankees’ rookie season with his 30th on July 7.

He became the second rookie to hit 30 home runs before the All-Star break after Mark McGwire in 1987, the first Yankee to do so since Alex Rodriguez in 2007, and the first player in baseball since Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera in 2013. Before the All-Star break, Judge hit .329 with 30 home runs and 66 RBIs. Judge won the 2017 Home, Run Derby, besting Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sanó 11–10 in the final round to become the first rookie to win the Derby outright. He finished the season second in the voting in the AL MVP behind Altuve of the Astros (since then, we have learned that Altuve may have cheated his way to that award). During the 2017-18 offseason, he underwent shoulder surgery to repair cartilage.

As the 2018 season opened, Judge found himself making his first start in
centerfield and, by doing so, becoming the heaviest player in the history of
the MLB to play the position. Judge is 6 ft. 7 and weighs 282 pounds. On
April 16, Judge became the fastest player in MLB history to reach 60 home
runs, doing so in 197 games compared to Mark McGwire’s 202 games.

The accolades go on and on when speaking of Aaron Judge. He is a huge fan favorite in more ways than one. The Yankees think so much of him that they have set aside an area in the right-field called the Judge’s Chambers. But for all the fanfare, there are some cracks in the armor. Judge, mostly due to his size and musculature, is subject to injury. He also is subject to the strikeout. He became the first MLB player to record eight strikeouts in a doubleheader. It’s the most in a doubleheader since strikeouts for hitters were first recorded in 1910.

Judge started the New York Yankees 2019 season off strong with a .288 batting average, five home runs, and 11 RBI’s in 20 games. However, on April 20, Judge suffered an oblique strain while hitting a single in the sixth inning against the Kansas City Royals. He was immediately placed on the IL without a timetable on when he’d be back. That timetable ended up with him missing two months of the season. Even with all this time on the IL, he hit .272 with 27 home runs and 55 RBI’s. He hit a 462-foot blast against the Seattle Mariners on Aug. 27, marked the 100th of his four-year career. He also had his lowest OPS since 2016.

Fast forward to the coronavirus shortened season. Judge only played in less than half the games (28), again beset by injuries. Nevertheless, he ended the season hitting .257 with nine home runs. The nine home runs were all between July 30 and August 5th.  He never found his stroke during the remainder of the regular season; however, he hit three long balls in the postseason.

The 2021 season has been kind to Judge; he has remained mostly healthy, playing all but seven games for the first time in three years. His path to the All-Star game is based on his 18 home runs, on pace to hit the second-most home runs of his career. He also has the highest batting average (.285) in the last six years. There is no question that Aaron Judge is the ailing Yankee’s best player this season, and now he is rewarded as a starting player in this season’s All-Star Game.

There is no question that Aaron Judge is a superstar. If he will ever be New York Yankee Captain or be offered a long-term contract, the issue is dependent on his ability to stay on the field. From college to the present, Judge has suffered over fourteen injuries that have kept him away from the game. The 2017 season shows what Judge can do; he hit 52 home runs, batted .284, and drove in 114 runs. He did that playing in 155 games. But in his other years, he has averaged only 80 games a season; that is not superstar material. Maybe this year, with his ability to stay healthy, will pave the way to future stardom.

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