By: Dylan Perego
Major League Baseball crowned a new Home Run Derby champion last night in Miami, and his name is Aaron Judge.
The New York Yankees right fielder put on a show for the ages last night in Miami, crushing a total of 47 home runs over the event’s three-round span. Standing six-foot-seven and weighing in at a lean, yet hulking 282 pounds, Judge had ample power in store to defeat some of the game’s best sluggers.
The current Home Run Derby format is comprised of three four-minute rounds in which competitors are able to take as many swings as they can during that time-frame. Subsequent pitches cannot be thrown until the previous ball lands, and a 30-second bonus time clause can be activated if the slugger hits two home runs that total over 440 feet in length.
That was not a problem for Judge.
In the opening round, Judge needed a monstrous 23 home runs to dispatch Miami Marlins first baseman Justin Bour. In the second, Judge downed Los Angeles Dodgers rookie sensation Cody Bellinger by a score of 13-12.
The finals pitted Judge against a fellow imposing power threat in Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano, but Judge was able to earn the victory by mashing an additional 11 home runs to capture his first ever Home Run Derby win.
After the competition, Judge was humble in his self-analysis of his performance.
“It was a blast,” Judge told Tyler Kepner of The New York Times following his victory. “I enjoyed every minute of it. Watching all the other guys swing, coming here early, talking to the media — everything about today was fantastic.”
Judge managed to hit three home runs that exceeded 500 feet in length. His longest stretched as far as 513 feet.
— RealClearSports (@RealClearSports) July 11, 2017
Oh, and he also managed to hit one off of the Marlins’ park roof, which didn’t even count in his overall total.
— Sports Funhouse (@SportsFunhouse) July 11, 2017
According to Statcast, Major League Baseball’s high-speed software for measuring player movement and athletic abilities, all of Judge’s home runs on Monday night travelled a combined total of 3.9 miles, or 6.28 kilometres.
Many of Judge’s peers from around Major League Baseball were quick to praise the 25-year-old for his efforts, offering a wide array of compliments.
aaron judge! the goat 🐐
— Clint Frazier (@clintfrazier) July 11, 2017
— Luis Severino (@LuisSeverino94) July 11, 2017
Charlie Blackmon, on Aaron Judge’s swing: “He’s so quiet and simple that he looks like a contact hitter trapped in an ogre’s body.”
— Adam Berry (@adamdberry) July 11, 2017
Also congrats @TheJudge44 you hit balls really far
— CodyBellinger (@Cody_Bellinger) July 11, 2017
In the eyes of baseball fans, Judge’s recent display of power did more than just prove he is arguably the best home run hitter on the planet; it also brought the Home Run Derby back into the spotlight.
Justin Ayles, a former all-star pitcher for Brock University and founder of the Ontario University Athletics baseball blog, is a fan of the recent changes in format and believes it saved the entire event.
“The home run derby is back and better than ever,” he said. “You have the best in the world wanting to compete and the new fast paced rounds are great for the fans.”
Ayles does, however, have one bone to pick with the current system, something he believes slights certain outstanding performances.
“My one displeasure is to take away the first round matches,” he said. “It was a shame to see (Giancarlo) Stanton and (Justin) Bour exit so early with the third and fourth most home runs in the round. Overall though, the players put on an entertaining show and you might see Judge hoist that trophy up a few more times.”
Aside from Monday’s victory, Judge is currently in the middle of a rookie season that has him in line for not only the Rookie of the Year award, but also the American League Most Valuable Player award. Judge boasts a .329 batting average as well as a league-leading 30 home runs to go along with 66 runs batted in.