Yankees rookie phenom Aaron Judge has been one of the most compelling stories in baseball this season as no rookie in MLB history has ever hit more home runs.
Standing 6-foot-7 and weighing 282 pounds, Judge is already the largest position player to ever take the field and he cemented his status as a household name when he won the All-Star Game Home Run Derby in convincing fashion.
Despite his current high profile, Judge didn’t come into the league as highly touted as many other recent young breakout stars have.
Below, we’ll take you through Judge’s meteoric rise as one of the most must-watch players in Major League Baseball.
Aaron Judge was born on April 26, 1992 in Linden, California.
The day after his birth, Aaron was adopted by his parents — two teachers, Patty and Wayne Judge. Aaron credits his mother with much of his success, and claims he wouldn’t be a Yankee without her. “She’s molded me into the person that I am today.”
Growing up, Judge attended Linden High School, where he was a three-sport athlete playing football, basketball, and baseball.
To say he was good in all three sports would be an understatement.
While he was recruited as a football player by colleges and drafted by the Oakland A’s, Judge elected to play baseball at Fresno State. In 2012 he would go on to win the College Home Run Derby, a preview of the power he would eventually bring to the majors.
In 2013, Aaron Judge was selected in the first round by the New York Yankees. He was the 32nd pick overall.
Once within the Yankees organization, Judge spent three years in the minor leagues, starting with the Charleston Riverdogs and working his way up through the Trenton Thunder and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
On August 13, 2016, Judge made his major league debut in a day game against the Tampa Bay Rays. His performance would give Yankee fans a taste of what was to come this season.
After fellow rookie Tyler Austin hit a home run in his first career at bat, Judge went up to the plate and did the same, giving the Yankees back-to-back homers that served as a sign of a bright future.
While Judge was quiet for most of the rest of 2016, he has been an absolute sensation so far in his first full year in the majors, leading the American League in batting average, home runs, and slugging percentage.
Behind the power of his bat, the Yankees sit atop the AL East standings and can be considered serious contenders for a playoff run when October arrives.
Judge’s power is impressive not only because of it’s consistency, but because of it’s sheer force. He’s shown an ability to do things to a baseball the likes of which we have never seen before.
Case in point, in early June, Judge hit a 495-foot home run — the longest since ESPN began tracking distances in 2009. The dinger set a record for exit velocity in the Statcast era, according to MLB.com, coming off his bat at 121 mph.
But Judge is not a one-trick pony. He’s shown a deftness in the outfield that you wouldn’t at first expect out of a 6’7″, 282 pound man.
Judge wears number 99, and is just the 17th player to wear it in the history of the majors. But it wasn’t his first choice.
“My favorite always has been 35,” Judge told NJ Advance Media, but that number is already taken by teammate Michael Pineda. Judge’s twitter handle, @TheJudge44, shows off another number he’s quite fond of, but New York has already retired 44 honor of Yankee great Reggie Jackson.
While Judge won’t get Reggie Jackson’s number, he does have his blessing. In an interview with ESPN, Mr. October compared Judge to the likes of Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Willie McCovey, saying the young slugger has the potential to become “the next great Yankee.”
Jackson was also extremely impressed with Judge’s character. “A gentle giant,” as Jackson described him. “A sweetheart. A nice young man. He has significant inner strength and confidence. He has a humble presence.”
A devout Christian, his character and humbleness in the face of great success stems from his faith and the supportive upbringing his parents provided him. “I’m blessed,” Judge said of his adoptive mother and father. “I feel that God was the one that matched us together.”
[Source: NY Post]
With both his stellar play on the field and his gracious personality, Judge has quickly become a favorite among Yankee supporters. Many agree with Jackson’s assessment that the home-grown talent could become the next great life-long Yankee.
Fans have even started their own cheering section for the new star — “The Judge’s Chamber” — in Yankee Stadium, filled with fans wearing robes emblazoned with the Yankee logo. In August, avid Yankee fan and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the cheering section for a game.
Having already won the AL Rookie of the Month award in both April and May, Judge seems like a lock for Rookie of the Year, and is even getting some MVP buzz from around the league.
On Monday, September 25, Judge hit his 49th and 50th home runs of the year, breaking Mark McGwire’s 28-year-old record and further helping his case for AL MVP.
While we don’t know what this postseason holds for the Bronx Bombers, with Aaron Judge at the heart of their lineup, the Yankees are potentially set up for success for years to come.
Now check out how big Judge really is.