Aaron Judge homered for the Yankees on one coast on Tuesday, Cody Bellinger for the Dodgers on the other. Maybe this is how our summer is going to play out with these two amazing rookies taking an entire sport along for a magical ride.
This was the eighth time they've homered on the same day this season, and they're atop the Major League leaderboard with 24 and 22.
Maybe this is how our summer is going to play out, with these two kids taking an entire sport along for a magical ride. Until a few months ago, a lot of baseball fans would not have recognized either name.
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Now we debate which one is better, and if they might just be baseball's two best players. Sure, that's ridiculous. Judge has played 93 games in his career, Bellinger just 52.
Bellinger didn't make his Major League debut until the Dodgers' 21st game of the season. He homered twice in his fifth game, twice more in his 10th and -- well, you get it.
There are miles to go before we know what kind of career either of them is going to have. Young players must adjust and readjust as teams try different ways of getting them out.
Two years ago, some teams thought they had Michael Trout figured out. Throw him a high fastball, get him out. They did, too. For awhile. Trout now is one of the best high fastball hitters in the game.
On Tuesday, another Dodger, shortstop Corey Seager, stole the spotlight by hitting three home runs in a 12-0 victory over the Mets.
These are cornerstone players. Players who impact games in a way most players can't. Players who win championships. That's why the Dodgers believe they can build around Seager and Bellinger for another decade or so.
On the other side of the country, the Yankees feel the same way about Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez, who hit his 32nd home run in just his 96th career game Tuesday.
Judge leads the Majors in home runs and pretty much everything else. If the season ended today, he'd be the American League Most Valuable Player Award winner and Rookie of the Year Award winner.
His 28 home runs in 93 career games are the fifth-most in history, and he's one of 12 players 25 or younger with at least 24 home runs in his team's first 68 games. Of the other 11, eight of them are in the Hall of Fame, including Babe Ruth.
Judge doesn't just hit home runs. He hits home runs befitting a larger-than-life Yankee. They are monstrous, jaw-dropping shots. According to Statcast™, he has the four hardest-hit balls this season, beginning with one tracked at 121 mph on June 10, and also the longest home run, which was projected at 495 feet on June 11.
To have this large -- 6-foot-7, 282 pounds -- man wearing pinstripes and hitting the baseball harder than anyone else in the sport? Well, that fits.
Bellinger began his season in the Minors. The Dodgers thought he might be special, but there simply was no place for him to play.
All of this is a reminder that there has never been a better time to be a baseball fan and that there has seldom been this much young talent in the game. Baseball has spoiled us in recent seasons with Trout and Bryce Harper, with Manny Machado and Carlos Correa, with Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor.
They've forced an entire sport to take a second and third look at the things they thought they knew about player development. Maybe it's OK to rush a player to the big leagues -- if it's the right player and if the talent is there.
Willie Mays and Frank Robinson made their debuts at age 20, Robin Yount at 18. Harper was 19 when the Nationals summoned him to the Majors. He wasn't a great player at the start, but there was never a moment when he looked overmatched. He simply was that good. That's what we're seeing now.
Judge and Bellinger cannot give us a replay of Mantle and Maris in 1961. Playing their home games nearly 3,000 miles apart might make the whole thing better.
We can watch both of them. On the East Coast, baseball fans know there's no one better than their guy. Out west, they think the same thing about Bellinger.
They're just scratching the surface of what they're going to be. We're the lucky ones who get to watch it unfold.