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Judge slugs way to AL rookie honor for May

MLB.com @BryanHoch

TORONTO -- Aaron Judge says that he would prefer that the focus be on what the first-place Yankees have accomplished as a group, but the rookie slugger's personal exploits have been difficult to ignore.

Judge was honored on Friday with his second straight American League Rookie of the Month Award, as the 6-foot-7 sensation shows no signs of slowing down. Judge led the Major Leagues in home runs (17) entering play Friday, and he was hitting .326/.427/.680 heading into the contest vs. the Blue Jays.

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TORONTO -- Aaron Judge says that he would prefer that the focus be on what the first-place Yankees have accomplished as a group, but the rookie slugger's personal exploits have been difficult to ignore.

Judge was honored on Friday with his second straight American League Rookie of the Month Award, as the 6-foot-7 sensation shows no signs of slowing down. Judge led the Major Leagues in home runs (17) entering play Friday, and he was hitting .326/.427/.680 heading into the contest vs. the Blue Jays.

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"I've been trying to take everything one day at a time," Judge said. "You just build a couple of good days together, it turns into a good month, and a couple of good months turn into a good season. That's all I'm trying to focus on right now."

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Judge and other #ASGWorthy players

Judge is the first Yankee to win the award more than once and remains the fourth Yankee to take home the award, joining Robinson Cano (September 2005), Hideki Matsui (June 2003) and Gary Sanchez (August 2016). He is the first Yankee to win any monthly award in consecutive months since Don Mattingly was named AL Player of the Month in August and September 1985.

"What he's done his first two months has been as good as it gets. I'm not surprised," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I know there are other rookies that have played well, but offensively and defensively, he's been really good."

Video: HOU@NYY: Judge crushes 441-ft. homer off batter's eye

Judge leads the Major Leagues with 28 barreled balls, according to Statcast™, ranks second in average exit velocity at 95.1 mph, and he has hit the single hardest ball of 2017, a Statcast™-record-setting 119.4-mph home run.

Having burst onto the scene by mashing 10 home runs in the first month of the season, Judge followed it up with a big May. The 25-year-old hit .347/.441/.642 in his 26 games, with seven more long balls and 17 RBIs to help the Yankees grab the top spot in the division.

"That's what it's all about. That's why we play, is to win," Judge said. "To be on the roll that we've been on the last two months, it makes this difficult game we play pretty enjoyable."

Judge was among the overall AL leaders in all three slash line categories. His batting average for the month ranked seventh, his on-base percentage ranked fourth and his slugging percentage ranked sixth.

Combined, that produced a 1.084 OPS that ranked third in the league, behind only Mike Trout and AL Player of the Month for May Carlos Correa, and just ahead of teammate Brett Gardner.

Judge's swings are proving worthy of attention even before games. On Thursday, Judge crushed a 500-plus-foot batting-practice homer to the upper deck in left-center field at Rogers Centre, joking that he and Matt Holliday were trying to startle a cover band that was performing in center field.

"I've got a plan that I usually focus on going into BP," Judge said. "There's usually about one round where my approach is trying to drive something to left-center. I guess that'll be the time when I try to show off a little bit."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge