Almost everyone expected Yankees rookie Aaron Judge to win the 2017 Home Run Derby on Monday night. And after last night, it wasn’t even about the win.
It was more about Judge making a statement.
Judge became the first Yankee to win the Home Run Derby since Robinson Cano took home the honor in 2011. And during the three-round affair, Judge made the derby seem like child’s play. So what did the road to victory look like for the Yankees phenom?
Round 1: Justin Bour vs. Aaron Judge
After Miguel Sano, teammate Gary Sanchez, and Cody Bellinger advanced to Round 2, it was time for Judge to take center stage. But first, he witnessed his opponent, Miami Marlins first baseman Justin Bour, show some serious power. Bour immediately put pressure on Judge, hitting 22 home runs in the four minute time frame. However, Judge seemed unfazed as he immediately countered with 23 home runs, advancing to Round 2.
There would have been 24 home runs during the round but the umpires decided not to count the ball that hit the roof of Marlins Park. Seems oddly reminiscent to the umpires taking a home run away from Judge earlier in the season, doesn’t it?
Round 2: Cody Bellinger vs. Aaron Judge
Many had hoped the final round would consist of Los Angeles Dodgers phenom Cody Bellinger and Judge. However, because of the way the bracket was formatted, they were instead the semi-final showdown. The winner would face Miguel Sano, who eliminated Judge’s teammate, Gary Sanchez. Bellinger was the first one up, and mashed 12 home runs in his four minute frame.
After Bellinger took his cuts, he sat down with former Yankee and current ESPN analyst Mark Teixeira, as they watched Judge step in the batter’s box.
“What are your chances of you surviving this round?” Teixeira asked as Judge mashed baseballs in the seats.
“Negative 12.” Bellinger replied.
As predicted, Bellinger’s luck in the derby ran out; Judge hit 13 homers to advance to the final round, including a 513-foot home run which ended up being the longest home run in the derby’s existence.
Round 3: Miguel Sano vs. Aaron Judge
At this point, crowning Judge as the winner would only be a formality. Sano mustered the same amount of home runs through two rounds as Bour did through one round. By the time he finished with his cuts, Sano hit 10 home runs before Judge was once again front and center.
In half the time it took Sano to hit 10 home runs, Judge hit 11, ending a brilliant night for the right fielder.
After an exciting two-hour affair, Judge took home the Home Run Derby trophy, and has a chance to defend his title when the All-Star game is in Washington D.C. next season.
But will Judge participate?
“We’ll see,” Judge said.
Well, we have an entire year to worry about that.
Tonight, Judge will represent the Yankees and bat third in the American League lineup. Unfortunately, World Series advantage is no longer in play here, so if Judge leads the American League to victory, he’ll end up with $20,000.
Not too bad for two days of fun in Miami.