SEATTLE – In the 1,109 days that have passed since Aaron Judge launched his first Major League home run, the slugger developed into a fan favorite, won a Home Run Derby, participated in a couple of postseasons and has been frequently referred to as one of the faces of his
SEATTLE – In the 1,109 days that have passed since Aaron Judge launched his first Major League home run, the slugger developed into a fan favorite, won a Home Run Derby, participated in a couple of postseasons and has been frequently referred to as one of the faces of his sport.
A little more than three years since that initial drive sailed over the center-field wall at Yankee Stadium, Judge still only seems to be getting started, as he became the third-fastest player in history to reach 100 homers in Tuesday's 7-0 win over the Mariners.
• Fewest games played to 100 career home runs
"It's quite an accomplishment," Judge said. "Very few guys have gotten a chance to do that, and I'm humbled and honored by that. We've got to keep moving forward."
Judge reached the century milestone with a two-run, first-inning blast off Seattle starter Yusei Kikuchi, giving his club a quick lead with a line drive that dented the center-field batter's eye at T-Mobile Park.
"That's one only a few guys can hit like that," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "For him to continue to really have a big-time impact on us on this trip, it’s been really good to see."
Shaking off a slump that lasted the better part of three weeks, Judge has homered in five of the eight games on this trip, including four of the last five. Tuesday's shot came off of Judge's bat at 114.1 mph and carried a projected distance of 462 feet, per Statcast.
"When he’s locked in at his best, he’s the best player on the field," Brett Gardner said. "I think we’re seeing that the last week or so. He's really getting his body in a good position and great approach at the plate. He always has his share of walks, gets on base and keeps the line moving."
Judge's 100th homer came in his 371st career game. Only Ryan Howard (325 games) and Judge's Yankees teammate, Gary Sanchez (355 games), were able to do it faster. Sanchez reached the milestone last week against the Dodgers.
"It's a special group," Judge said. "Ryan Howard did some special things in the game and we've already seen what Gary Sanchez can do. It's just the beginning for him. I'm going to catch him. I know I'm trailing him right now but I'm going to try to catch him."
In addition, Judge is the fourth Yankee this season to reach 100 homers, joining Gardner (April 17), Didi Gregorius (July 23) and Sanchez (Aug. 23).
"Both him and Gary, it's just really, really impressive power," Gardner said. "Those guys are going to continue to play this game for a long time and have a lot of career ahead of them. It's a lot of fun to watch them work, and great to have them in our lineup."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.