If Judge needs advice on HR plateau, a big help isn't far

September 22nd, 2022

This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch's Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Few men on the planet have experienced a year like the one  is enjoying. One of them happens to stash his workday belongings in the same Yankee Stadium clubhouse, just a few feet away across the plush carpet. 

As Judge has continued to pound big league pitching and swing for the history books,  is aware of the echoes of his 2017 season with the Marlins, when the National League MVP-to-be led the Majors with 59 homers. No player had reached 59 homers since, until Judge did it on Sunday in Milwaukee.  

“It’s unreal. It’s amazing to watch,” Stanton said. “We get to see all the internal stuff and all the behind-the-scenes work. He hit 60 [on Tuesday], and it’s like nothing happened. He’s got more work to do. That’s the mindset. That’s how it will always be.”

In that 2017 season with Miami, Stanton hit homers Nos. 58 and 59 on Sept. 28 against the Braves, giving him three more games to reach the 60-homer plateau. With the baseball world watching closely, Stanton collected five hits in his last 14 at-bats (.357), but none of them left the yard.  

“How’d I deal with it? By not getting it,” Stanton said with a grin. “Obviously, you can’t run from it. You can’t hide from it. You could tell in the stadium. You could tell their pitcher on the mound doesn’t want to be the one to give it up. So that’s all extra distractions, outside noise. You’ve got to be able to compress all that, still stay in your zone and stick to your approach, which [Judge has] done all year.”

Since their first day as teammates in Spring Training 2018, Judge has looked to Stanton as something of an older brother, believing that their physiques and skill sets have much in common. This season, as Judge has been arguably the league’s best player, he lauded Stanton’s influence for helping him get to that point.  

“Getting the chance to know Big G and picking his brain over the years has just helped me mature as a player, and mature as a person as well,” Judge said. “He’s been in the league since he was 19 or 20 years old. He’s seen it all; he’s been through it all. He’s been through the MVP race, winning MVP, having seasons of 30, 40, 50, 59 homers, being pitched around. I know he’s seen it all.” 

Stanton agrees -- though these days, it is occasionally Judge who offers the pointers, helping Stanton find his timing as the fearsome duo aims to slug the Yankees toward a World Series title.  

“We’re very, very similar,” Stanton said. “We have a lot of the same tools, a lot of the same ways to go about baseball. So just kind of bouncing off those types of ideas. It’s hard to relate to everybody when you’re looking for a mindset or approach of, ‘How is this guy going to come at me?’ It’s just good to have a brother to bounce off, keep each other accountable and keep each other pushing.”