ORLANDO, Fla. -- Just as the fans did all year long at Yankee Stadium, the voters were prepared to "All Rise." The verdict is in, and it was unanimous: Aaron Judge has been named the 2017 winner of the American League's Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award.Named on all
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Just as the fans did all year long at Yankee Stadium, the voters were prepared to "All Rise." The verdict is in, and it was unanimous: Aaron Judge has been named the 2017 winner of the American League's Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award.
Named on all 30 ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, the hulking 25-year-old outfielder became the 22nd unanimous Rookie of the Year in Major League history, coming off a season in which Judge shattered Mark McGwire's 30-year-old record by belting a league-leading 52 home runs in his first full campaign.
:: AL Rookie of the Year voting totals ::
"It means everything. It's quite an honor," Judge said. "It's an honor and a privilege. I'm just one piece in an organization. The impact my teammates, family and friends have had on me this year have been huge. I can't thank them enough."
While fellow finalists Andrew Benintendi of the Red Sox and Trey Mancini of the Orioles enjoyed fine debuts, Judge's performance almost seemed to be from another planet, helping the Yankees finish one win shy of the World Series in what was widely expected to be a rebuilding year in the Bronx.
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Judge compiled a .284/.422/.627 slash line while leading the AL in runs (128) and walks (127), and ranking second in RBIs (114), on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
"It was an amazing, remarkable year that no one would have predicted," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "Everyone fully expects Aaron Judge to get all the accolades he deserves for the type of year he had. It put us in a great situation this year to go as far as we did."
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Judge is the ninth Yankees player to have been selected as the Rookie of the Year, and the first since Derek Jeter in 1996. The others were: Gil McDougald (1951), Bob Grim ('54), Tony Kubek ('57), Tom Tresh ('62), Stan Bahnsen ('68), Thurman Munson ('70) and Dave Righetti ('81).
After beating out Aaron Hicks for the starting job in the spring, the gentle giant from tiny Linden, Calif., claimed the Big Apple as his own, joining Ted Williams (1939) as the only players to tally at least 100 runs, 100 RBIs and 100 walks in his rookie season.
"Fighting for a job, that's been my mindset every Spring Training," Judge said. "Even in the Minor Leagues, I thought you have to go out and earn a spot. Nothing is ever given to you. It was the same when I was told I'd be the starting right fielder. You have to earn your job every day. Even going into next year, I'm still going to be fighting for that right-field job, fighting for my spot."
Judge led all AL rookies in games played (155), plate appearances (678), homers, runs, RBIs, walks, on-base percentage, OPS (1.049), wOBA (.430), wRC+ (173) and WAR (8.2), among other categories. Whether the numbers were from the new school or the old school, Judge was probably at or near the top of the leaderboard. His 127 walks were the most ever by a rookie.
That includes strikeouts (208), as Judge was the only big leaguer to exceed 200 whiffs this year. But when Judge made contact, no one hit them harder: He recorded 186 balls hit at least 95 mph, accounting for 55 percent of his balls in play, the highest such mark in the Majors. Judge also hit seven homers with an exit velo of 117 mph or greater; no one else had more than two.
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After becoming the first rookie to win the T-Mobile Home Run Derby in July, when Judge crushed 47 homers -- if stacked end-to-end, they would have traveled 3.9 miles from home plate at Marlins Park into nearby Biscayne Bay -- Commissioner Robert D. Manfred lauded Judge as "the kind of player that can become the face of the game." Appearances on 'The Tonight Show' and the cover of Sports Illustrated only increased that profile.
A flat slider thrown to Judge by the Orioles' Logan Verrett on June 11 was calculated to have traveled 495 feet to the back of the bleachers in left field at Yankee Stadium, the longest hit in the Majors this season. Judge didn't watch it; there was no need. He also hit the hardest homer in Statcast™ history (121.1 mph) and had the most barrels (87) in the Majors.
Despite a six-week late summer swoon that saw Judge strike out in a Major League record 37 consecutive games -- perhaps impacted by a shoulder injury believed to be sustained on one of his bone-rattling defensive plays -- Judge bounced back to make September his strongest month, cracking 15 homers and ending the year on a career-long 13-game hitting streak before enjoying a postseason in which Yankee Stadium rattled like it was the late 1990s.
Judge is also a candidate for the AL Most Valuable Player Award, which will be announced on Thursday, with the Astros' Jose Altuve anticipated to be Judge's primary competition. Judge is aiming to become just the third player to win AL MVP and Rookie of the Year in the season, a feat previously accomplished by Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001).
"It's what you dream about," Judge said. "I wouldn't change a thing, the ups and downs, how things happened this year. It all molds you into who you are now. It was an incredible year."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.