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FutureStarrAaron Judge Hits 1st HR of Spring
On Monday night, New York Yankees star Aaron Judge hit his first home run of the spring - a three-run shot that soared through the stands at Yankee Stadium.
Manager Aaron Boone announced on Wednesday that Judge will play left field in an effort to give Giancarlo Stanton more opportunities in right field at Yankee Stadium this season.
On Monday night, New York Yankees star Aaron Judge hit his first home run of the spring - a shot off right-handed pitcher Jesus Tinoco that soared over left-field fence and into the stands to thunderous cheers from both sides of the field. It marked another landmark in a remarkable 2022 season for Judge, who broke Roger Maris' single-season American League home run record and earned himself an AL MVP nomination.
Judge was overcome with emotion at that moment, feeling like a true legend of the sport. Such greatness can only come from someone so talented.
At the celebration, several Yankees teammates joined in, including Gerrit Cole who set a single-season strikeout record in that game. Finally, it was New York's captain who strode to home plate and gave an encouraging slap with his hand before taking his place at bat.
He'll be the first to admit he was taken aback by their response, but it was an ideal way to commemorate such an achievement.
This season, the Yankees are experimenting with Judge's defensive alignment. He typically plays right field but they want more versatility to use him in left when Giancarlo Stanton can also be deployed there.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, manager Aaron Boone has given reigning MVP some freedom this year to experiment with his defensive positioning. It's sure to cause some eyebrows and perhaps get him out of his comfortable right stance.
Judge is an incredible player with incredible power, but he must work to maximize his potential. He's a huge physical specimen who needs to refine his swing in order to maximize his home run power.
But this is a monumental milestone for an exciting young player and should be an exciting time for all of the Yankees, particularly as they prepare to clinch their first American League East title in nearly four years.
If Judge can maintain his streak of hitting home runs at an impressive clip, his career will be one to remember. But the next big test will come in just a few days when he attempts to surpass Roger Maris' single-season American League record with a home run against the Boston Red Sox on Friday.
Judge has had great success at the plate, yet has not always made for a great fielder. He lacks the speed of a traditional power hitter and wasn't as agile in the field when younger. Nonetheless, Judge has shown great promise at times.
Since becoming a full-time outfielder in 2022, he's made significant improvements with his defense. His OAA (1.5) and rARM (+2) over two seasons in center field demonstrate this progress, as has his performance at right field as well.
If Judge can repeat his success in left field, it could be a huge boost to the Yankees' defensive production this season. While he's never played left field as a major leaguer, Judge has made seven minor league appearances at that position for an overall total of seven appearances.
Judge's transition to left field hasn't been without its challenges. For one, he's not as familiar with the position as he is with right field, so it may take some time for him to adjust. Additionally, as a natural right-handed hitter, Judge must learn how to hit against left-handed pitchers as well.
Additionally, players have had to adjust to new defensive rules during spring training. It's a new reality they are faced with and it has taken some time for him to get used to them.
Judge's main worry may be how his body will adapt to a longer shift. He's already experienced muscle issues this spring, and moving to center field puts him in an entirely different physical position than right field where he's used to playing.
It would be wise to give him some extra playing time in the outfield as he adjusts to his new position. Doing so could make him not only a stronger defensive outfielder this season, but he could even contribute on the basepaths as well.
A winning culture necessitates sacrifice, and Judge has shown that he can lead by example with his conduct in the clubhouse. His emotional intelligence has enabled them to create an environment free of toxic relationships and unnecessary drama which can often fracture teams and hinder performance.
Aaron Judge's 62nd home run of the season will break Roger Maris' American League record set 61 years ago. Judge's epic blast Tuesday against the Texas Rangers was celebrated by both fans and teammates alike.
The crowd erupted in cheers as Judge was welcomed by his teammates as he circled the bases. As soon as the ball landed in left field seats, a fan leaped down between an outfield wall and the stands to try and obtain the prized souvenir.
After surveying a ball and striking, Judge launched an 1-1 offering from Texas right-handed pitcher Jesus Tinoco 391 feet into the bleachers in front of 38,832 screaming fans, setting an American League single-season home run record for his career.
Judge was in for a moment of triumph. After months of striving to break the record, he finally had it all to himself.
On Tuesday night, those watching the game on ESPN had been waiting for Judge to hit his 62nd homer since tying Babe Ruth's record with his 60th. Finally, Judge finally achieved that goal with a home run against the Texas Rangers that broke Maris' record and will be remembered by Yankees fans for years to come.
Judge's journey to reaching his milestone wasn't an easy one. For 13 games, including five consecutive ones before hitting No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto, Judge had struggled mightily with his bat and hit just one home run in that span of time.
Still, the New York Yankees remain one of baseball's most dangerous teams and Judge has proven he can lead their charge. He leads the league in home runs (23), hits (seven), RBIs (ten) and is only behind Luis Arraez for batting average at.323.
He's on track to win the triple crown, making him the first Yankee player since Mickey Mantle in 1956 to do so. Additionally, he's a candidate for MVP but the competition seems fierce.
Patty Judge's mother, Patty, knew that Tuesday night in Cleveland wasn't the end of their son's journey. It marked only the start of what she hopes will be many more home runs to come in the future.
As the ball flew into the stands behind left field at Rogers Centre, she closed her eyes in anticipation. Unsure if it would go over, but determined not to be disappointed when she saw it go, she closed her eyes in preparation.
She was both relieved and amazed when she looked back in the stands to see her son hit his 62nd home run of the season against Triston McKenzie with two outs in the seventh inning, breaking a 2-2 tie.
That was enough for the Yankees to secure both an AL East title and Wild Card berth. Now they head off to Texas for four games before entering the postseason, with Judge likely sitting out at least some of those contests.
At present, all eyes are on Judge to break Roger Maris' single-season American League home run record. If he succeeds, it would mark an historic moment in baseball.
Through it all, there has been an ever-present buzz of anticipation that the Yankees' star hitter would finally reach that historic mark. It is an honor that has been sought since Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle both broke the record.
Judge has two more chances to surpass Maris during this homestand: Saturday afternoon against Baltimore Orioles and Sunday night against Boston are both potential matches in which he could accomplish it.
Maris isn't surprising that Judge is encouraging Judge to try for his old record before the season's end. After their four-game sweep of the Red Sox, with their playoff hopes still alive, Maris believes Judge can make it happen.