In recognition of the 2017 MLB Draft, which runs through Wednesday, we are including where and when each player was drafted. For complete coverage of the Draft -- which you can watch live in its entirety on MLB.com -- please visit Draft Central.After a record-setting weekend in the Bronx, Yankees
In recognition of the 2017 MLB Draft, which runs through Wednesday, we are including where and when each player was drafted. For complete coverage of the Draft -- which you can watch live in its entirety on MLB.com -- please visit Draft Central.
After a record-setting weekend in the Bronx, Yankees star Aaron Judge (No. 32 overall, 2013 Draft, Fresno State) showed his power can travel -- from coast to coast and to all parts of the field.
It was just past 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning on the East Coast when Judge woke up Yankees fans -- and the baseball world -- with a monstrous 112.5-mph, 438-foot home run to the right-field seats at Angel Stadium, as tracked by Statcast™. The two-run blast tied the Tigers' J.D. Martinez for the hardest-hit opposite-field shot by a right-handed batter this season, and slotted in just behind Martinez and tied the Indians' Jose Ramirez for the second-longest opposite-field homer by a righty in 2017. Judge is now tied with the Mets' Michael Conforto and the A's Khris Davis for the most opposite-field homers this season with eight, and, most importantly, his eighth-inning homer gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead they would not relinquish.
"I've dreamed about it since I was a kid," said Judge about coming up in important late-game situations. "Tie game, runner on second base, you want to be in that situation and have that opportunity. I just tried to keep it simple and drive the ball to center field."
Judge's go-ahead home run Monday built upon a torrid weekend in which he seemingly re-wrote the Statcast™ record books with every swing. On Saturday, the rookie set a Statcast-era record for the hardest home run with a 121.1-mph laser off Orioles starter Chris Tillman, then added a 116-mph double later on as part of 3-for-4 performance.
On Sunday, New York's hulking right fielder sent a Kevin Gausman pitch into orbit, launching a 495-foot shot -- the second-longest home run since Statcast™ began tracking homer distance in 2015 -- to a part of the left-field stands at Yankee Stadium where no one can recall a ball reaching. Judge would homer again an inning later in the Yankees' 14-3 romp over the Orioles on Sunday as part of an incredible 4-for-4 day.
The fact that Judge has already hit a Major League-best 22 home runs in the Yankees' first 61 games -- joining Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio as the only Yankees age-25 or younger to hit at least 20 four-baggers before the All-Star break -- is impressive enough. But the way in which he's hitting them is what's truly setting him apart.
Judge's 112.5-mph homer Monday against the Angels marked his 14th homer of the season hit with an exit velocity of at least 110 mph, three more than Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton in second place. Those 14 blasts already tie the highest total of 110-plus mph homers from last season, set by Stanton and Nelson Cruz of the Mariners.
Judge's big swing in the eighth quickly wiped aside a rare fielding mistake he made a half-inning before, when he sailed an errant relay throw that helped the Angels eventually score the tying run. By the time Judge completed his trip around the bases, he was hearing resounding M-V-P chants at a ballpark nearly 3,000 miles away from home.
"I don't listen to it," Judge said of the chants. "I just try to do my job on the field."
Judge finished Monday leading the American League with a .347 average and those 22 home runs, along with 49 RBIs that rank second to Cruz. If he continues doing his job the way he's doing it now, it could add up to a rookie season for the ages.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.