NEW YORK -- With a handful of tape-measure drives that equaled the Major League record for home runs by a rookie in April, Aaron Judge has quickly become New York City's newest must-see attraction.Named the American League's Rookie of the Month for April on Wednesday, the 25-year-old Judge said that
NEW YORK -- With a handful of tape-measure drives that equaled the Major League record for home runs by a rookie in April, Aaron Judge has quickly become New York City's newest must-see attraction.
Named the American League's Rookie of the Month for April on Wednesday, the 25-year-old Judge said that he has thoroughly enjoyed the extra attention that seems to come with mashing the ball and helping the team rise to the top of the division.
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"It's been great. It's been fun," Judge said. "We're winning ballgames. Everything is good. Usually, any time somebody sees a 6-foot-8-inch guy walking down the street, they'll notice you. But it hasn't been too difficult."
Judge hit .303 (23-for-76) with 23 runs scored, a pair of doubles, a triple, 10 home runs, 20 RBIs, one stolen base and a 1.161 OPS in April, becoming the second Yankees player age 25 or younger to hit at least 10 home runs in the team's first 22 games, joining Mickey Mantle, who did it in 1956.
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The only other rookies to hit 10 homers in April are Jose Abreu, who did it for the White Sox in 2014, and Trevor Story, who accomplished the feat for the Rockies last season.
His most impressive game of the month came on Friday against the Orioles in the epic 14-11, 10-inning comeback win, when Judge belted two home runs off Kevin Gausman. The second homer was calculated at 119.4 mph off the bat, breaking Giancarlo Stanton's previous record (119.2 mph) for the hardest-hit homer in the Statcast™ era.
"This year, I've had more of an aggressive approach and I've tried to attack something that's in the middle of the field," Judge said. "Last year, I was more trying to see ball, then hit ball when kind of knowing it was going to be in the zone that I was looking for. Now I'm staying more aggressive. It all comes down to approach."
While his bat has done most of the talking, Judge's play in right field has also turned heads. Against the Red Sox on April 26, Judge impressed by sacrificing his body and tumbling into the Fenway Park stands to catch a Xander Bogaerts fly ball.
"When you see Aaron Judge, you're going to say, 'Wow, that is a big man. Let's see how far he can hit it,'" Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "But his defense was really good and he's made some great plays, running catches, diving for balls, he's thrown runners out on the bases. His defense has been really, really good."
Judge said that he is embracing the opportunity to experience life as a young Yankee in New York.
"I check out the city. I walk around, get some breakfast, check out some spots," Judge said. "The best advice I got was, 'If you're looking for somewhere to eat, just either go right or left and if you don't find anything turn around and go the next way and keep walking.' People are busy here. They don't usually stop you too much."
Yankees rookies have won two of the last three AL Rookie of the Month Awards, with Gary Sanchez also bringing home the honors in August 2016. Prior to that, the Yankees had not won one since Robinson Cano in September 2005.
"I feel like I'm just trying to go out there and have quality at-bats and swing at the right pitches, and that's what I'd seen from Gary last year," Judge said.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.