Judge (25th HR) continues ridiculous stretch as Yankees clobber KC

June 12th, 2024

KANSAS CITY -- ’s home runs feel inevitable.

When he steps up to the plate, his teammates say they expect him to blast one out. He has lofty -- plain unrealistic -- expectations, but somehow, his past 41 games have absolutely blown those to shreds.

Judge crushed his Major League-leading 25th home run a Statcast-projected 436 feet on Tuesday night to stamp another multihit performance in the Yankees’ 10-1 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The former American League MVP and Rookie of the Year has added another chapter to his legacy during a 41-game stretch in which he has batted .401, hit 21 home runs and driven in 49 runs for the Bronx Bombers.

“I’m trying not to take that for granted … but I mean, it’s a lot of fun to witness and to watch what he’s doing on a nightly basis,” manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s pretty special.”

After Judge’s 2-for-4, three-RBI performance Tuesday, the slugger is tied with the Guardians' José Ramírez for the Major League lead in RBIs (62) and leads MLB in on-base percentage (.437), slugging percentage (.712), OPS (1.149) and walks (55).

Despite Judge’s record 41-game pace, which over a full 162-game season would translate to 83 homers, 194 RBIs and 190 runs scored, he started off his 2024 season -- if you can believe it -- on a slower note. He hit just .207 in March and April before blasting his way atop the leaderboards, raising his average to .309 in the process -- one of four qualified AL hitters above the .300 mark (Bobby Witt, .321; Juan Soto, .316; Adley Rutschman, .301).

“I think he takes a lot of pride in that,” Boone said. “Considering the month of April, where he was down around .200, to be up to that is just another testament to the kind of run he’s been on.”

For Judge, the early season slump was easier to deal with when he had Soto, who reached base twice Tuesday, and Giancarlo Stanton, who hit a Statcast-projected 446-foot homer in the seventh -- two batters after Judge’s blast -- surrounding him in the lineup.

“I try not to look up [at my stats], even when I’m hitting .150, I try not to look up there,” Judge said. “I try to look at Soto’s stats while I’m up there to feel good about myself. … It’s still early in the season; I’m just trying to put together good at-bats. We are facing some tough teams with some great pitching staffs.”

Not only has Judge hit 21 home runs in his past 41 games, but he has done so off some of the best arms in the game. During this stretch he has taken Yu Darvish, Luis Castillo, Tarik Skubal, Pablo López, Dylan Cease, Logan Webb and Bryce Miller deep. Judge is just the third player in Major League history to hit 30 extra-base hits in a 30-game span, joining Joe DiMaggio (1937) and Chick Hafey (‘28).

“It’s just amazing every single day,” said first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who returned to the lineup for the first time since Saturday and made a great over-the-shoulder grab in the fourth. “What he does, who he is, how he handles himself, the way he works, it’s something that I don’t think any of us can take for granted.”

Judge was given a day off Monday for the first time this season, but he didn’t skip a beat in his return. He smacked an opposite-field RBI single in the first, extending his Majors-best on-base streak to 36 games. He has been so dominant at the plate that his 2-for-4 night actually lowered his on-base percentage (he entered Tuesday at .520) during his 41-game tear. But his multihit showing was his 10th straight, becoming only the second Yankee since 2015 (DJ LeMahieu, ‘19) to have two or more hits in 10 straight games.

Judge’s performance, along with 5 2/3 scoreless innings from Marcus Stroman, was more than enough to send New York (48-21) to a season-high 27 games over .500. The Yankees, who have the lowest ERA (2.85) in the Majors, have now allowed three runs or fewer 43 times this season -- the most in MLB.

“The way these guys are swinging, it just makes this game fun,” Stroman said. “It gives everybody more confidence. I feel like everybody is in their element and riding off of one another.”

And with Judge’s seemingly endless streak continuing to break its way into the history books, there is only one person left that he needs to impress: himself. He isn’t satisfied with his first 68 games, but he has a feeling there’s a time at the end of the year where he can call this season a success.

“Yeah, [if I’m hitting] .330 in November,” Judge said. “I might feel locked in.”