It’s no secret that Aaron Judge is raking right now. His .308 batting average, 13 home runs and 28 RBIs are a big reason why the Yankees are out to a 21-11 record and are seemingly a couple years ahead of schedule on their rebuild. But it’s more than his gaudy numbers and his towering home runs that have fans in awe of Judge. His personality and the way he carries himself have drawn comparisons to Yankee legend Derek Jeter, which Judge quickly shrugged off saying, “There’s only one Derek Jeter. I’m just trying to be the best Aaron Judge I can be”. After games, reporters swamp the 6 foot 7 right fielder, usually asking about how it feels to hit yet another 400 foot plus bomb. Judge immediately turns the attention away from himself and instead talks about how he’s glad the team got another win. YES Network reporter Meredith Merakovits has vowed to get Judge to talk about himself, but so far has failed.
Aaron Judge is playing at an unreal level right now, yes, but is he legit? Last year in the bigs, he struck out in almost half of his plate appearances. Fans did see flashes of what was to come, but Judge’s .179 batting average in 2016 was nothing to write home about. However, Judge did not accept this as his fate. He went out and worked all winter on improving his swing pattern and cutting down his strikeouts. This showed in Spring Training, where he was able to earn the starting job in right field. This year, Judge has struck out in roughly 30% of his at-bats, a much better number. He’s also worked 17 walks, a testament to his improved eye. But is Aaron Judge the future of the Major Leagues? I’m willing to argue yes. Every time Aaron Judge steps into the box, it becomes must see TV, knowing there is a possibility he’ll do something we’ve never seen before or hit a ball further than anyone ever has. The ratings back this up. YES Network reported that April telecasts were the most viewed (reaching about 338,000 views a night) and the highest rated (3.39 average TV household rating) since 2014, the year the aforementioned Derek Jeter retired. Casual baseball fans are starting to tune in to watch the 6 foot 7, 282 pound monster that sends baseballs deep into the night.
When you think about the face of baseball, you think Trout, Harper, Bryant and Kershaw, the established names. But this 25 year old kid from Linden, California has something to say about this. Well, he’d never say it, but I sure will. Aaron Judge is doing something that fans have not seen in a long time. He’s bringing the casual “baseball is boring” fans back to the game. He has young kids dreaming of hitting bombs well into the bleachers of Yankee Stadium. He has Yankees fans going to sleep with visions of ring number 28 dancing in their heads and the glory of the late 1990s being revived. The reality is another world championship may still be a couple years away, but the future is more clear now than it ever has been, and the addition of a big arm in the rotation at the trade deadline could boost the Yankees into October baseball. For now, let’s All Rise, because it’s Judgment Day.