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Judge driven by title goal, not personal records

Rookie sensation not satisfied after Yankees' run falls short in 2017
MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- The season ended too abruptly for Aaron Judge to provide an honest assessment of his personal performance, but CC Sabathia spoke for many when he called it "the best rookie season I've ever seen."

With the American League Rookie of the Year Award seemingly a lock, the baseball world will have to wait until Nov. 16 to learn if voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America rated Judge worthy to also win the AL's Most Valuable Player Award over the Astros' Jose Altuve. No matter the hardware, Judge's incredible campaign won't soon be forgotten.

NEW YORK -- The season ended too abruptly for Aaron Judge to provide an honest assessment of his personal performance, but CC Sabathia spoke for many when he called it "the best rookie season I've ever seen."

With the American League Rookie of the Year Award seemingly a lock, the baseball world will have to wait until Nov. 16 to learn if voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America rated Judge worthy to also win the AL's Most Valuable Player Award over the Astros' Jose Altuve. No matter the hardware, Judge's incredible campaign won't soon be forgotten.

"I've never been around a group like this before," Judge said. "With the leadership we have in from veteran guys to the younger guys, it was fun coming to the ballpark every day. Whether we were down or up, we had fun every day."

Video: TOR@NYY: Judge honored for tremendous rookie season

Belting 52 home runs, Judge set a Major League record for the most hit by a rookie, eclipsing Mark McGwire's 1987 mark of 49. Judge led the AL in runs scored (128), homers and walks (127), ranked second in RBIs (114), on-base percentage (.422) and slugging percentage (.627), while also pacing the Majors in strikeouts (208).

Judge's 1.049 OPS made him the fourth rookie in the modern era to record an OPS of 1.000 or greater, joining Cleveland's Joe Jackson (1.058 in 1911), Boston's Ted Williams (1.045 in 1939) and St. Louis' Albert Pujols (1.013 in 2001). The historical company often awed Judge, who downplayed his accomplishments by saying his teammates had put him in a good position to succeed, yet said he couldn't be content with the final results.

Video: Must C Crushed: Aaron Judge hits homer number 52

"We didn't win the World Series. You're not really satisfied," Judge said. "That's what you want. That's why you play and why you train in the offseason. It's all for the opportunity to win the World Series, and we came up short."

Judge finished the season with a .284/.422/.627 split line, impressive numbers that had been dented by a six-week slump following his victorious performance at the T-Mobile Home Run Derby in July. Judge said that he was able to learn a lot by watching the Yankees' veteran players prepare, naming Brett Gardner, Chase Headley, Matt Holliday and Sabathia in particular.

Video: Judge crushes four home runs in his first postseason

"Through injuries, ups and downs, this team always came to play every day," Judge said. "It's something that as a rookie seeing the veterans do that, I had a lot of fun playing with them. What a crew we had."

Judge batted just .188 (9-for-48) in the postseason, setting a big league record for a single postseason with 27 strikeouts, but he had memorable moments. Judge hit four homers, contributed a big two-run double to the Yankees' attack against the Indians' Trevor Bauer in Game 4 of the AL Division Series presented by Doosan and made an exceptional leaping catch in the second inning of Game 7 in the AL Championship Series presented by Camping World, robbing the Astros' Yuli Gurriel.

Video: ALCS Gm7: Judge leaps at wall to rob potential homer

"I've said all year, he's not just a power hitter," Gardner said. "He's capable of changing the game in a lot of different ways. He runs the bases well, he plays a good right field and that was just another example right there of the way he's capable of changing the game -- not just with the bat, but on defense, too."

Having been the toast of New York for most of the year, first living out of two suitcases in a Times Square hotel before finding more permanent accommodations in Manhattan, Judge plans to head back to his quiet hometown of Linden, Calif., for the offseason. Though his return flight arrived about a week too soon for his liking, Judge said that he expects the Yankees to be making October noise for many years to come.

"We have a great team," Judge said. "We have a lot of guys coming back. We have a lot of guys in Minor Leagues waiting for their turn to come up here and do their thing. We're all excited for next year and what it holds for us."

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

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge