ALL the pressure was on Aaron Judge last night. The star slugger of the New York Yankees is just 111 games into his professional baseball career, yet he was the talk of the town Monday night as the best home run hitters in the majors gathered at Marlins Park in Miami for the 2017 Home Run Derby. Plenty of big names stacked the batting bracket, but none outshone the MLB home run leader as Judge stole the show.
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I nearly didn’t watch the Home Run Derby, opting instead to get some stuff done and watch the YouTube highlights later. Boy was I glad I tuned in. Just as Justin Bour, Judge’s first round opponent, stepped to the plate I started to watch. The Marlins first basemen went on to crush 22 home runs, giving him the fourth highest score in a single round ever in the competitions history. So it’s fair to say that Judge had his work cut out for him when he started his chase, but he looked like he barely broke a sweat. He responded by mashing 23 home runs (including one into the roof that didn’t count) to advance.
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IN the second round he made quick work of Cody Bellinger, mashing multiple 500+ yard home runs and then claimed the trophy by defeating Miguel Sano in the final. Judge actually had more home runs from his first two rounds than Sano had from his three appearances at the plate (36-32)! On the night Judge smacked 47 home runs (the 2nd most in a Home Run Derby) from the 76 pitches he faced, making light work of the supposed best hitters in the league.
LOGICALLY it doesn’t make sense that someone so young and short into his career can seem so unfazed by the big occasion. When he was coming to the plate against Bour people were actually confident that Judge could chase down the record setting performance by Bour. He seemed to be hitting balls at 60%-70% of what he was capable of that were still clearing the fence, to every part of the ground. Judge was the favourite coming into the event with 30 home runs to his name so far this season giving him more than anyone else in baseball. Those 30 long bombs are a Yankees rookie record and there is still half the MLB season remaining!! To come in with all that hype and expectation and deliver a performance of the magnitude that Aaron Judge did is something remarkably special as the rook continues to defy expectations (and logic) of the entire baseball world.
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