If you don’t want to see New York Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge in the MLB Home Run Derby next month then you’re simply not living your best baseball life. He leads all of MLB in homers with 23, has the most All-Star votes in the AL and is the runaway breakout star of the first half.
Here’s the good news: Judge said his Derby invite has arrived. And the bad news: He’s not ready to commit. He told reporters Tuesday that he wasn’t yet sure what he’d do but even getting invited is “surreal”:
“I’m going to think about it for a while,” Judge said. “Just haven’t honestly thought about. I’m more focused on what I can do for the team right now, and we’ll see what I decide to do.”
“Never really dreamed that it would actually happen. It was pretty surreal,” he said.
If Judge decides to compete July 10 at Marlins Park, it would potentially set up a mega-matchup with Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton’s 18 homers this season don’t measure up to Judge’s, but you can be sure everybody at the Derby will remember the show he put on last year. He hit 61 homers, a new Home Run Derby record by 20.
That’ll be hard for anyone to top. No matter how unbelievable their BP is.
There’s another factor that might weigh on the mind of the Yankees and their throngs of fans: What if the Derby leads to a slump for Judge? Remember, his success isn’t just with the longball, but also his AL-leading .335 batting average and 53 RBIs. (Nelson Cruz also has 53 RBIs entering play Tuesday).
Even though the data proves otherwise, many people in baseball believe the Home Run Derby tires out sluggers for the second half. Yankees skipper Joe Girardi at least brought that up.
“I watch him take BP, and he uses the whole field. So he’ll do the same thing,” Girardi said. “Players, you want them to go enjoy the All-Star Game because it’s something they’ve earned. But you do worry about fatigue for those guys because they’ve got to travel. The good thing is we have a Sunday day game here. It’ll be easy to get down there. So it shouldn’t be too bad.”
That last part is great to hear because a Home Run Derby this year without Aaron Judge just isn’t the Home Run Derby people want to see.
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
– – – – – –