|Aaron Judge (left) at the batting cage Tuesday. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge hit 52 home runs last season on his way to winning the American League Rookie of the Year award unanimously and came in second in the race for Most Valuable Player.
The questions going into this season were how would Judge follow that up?
The answer is that he has simply picked up where he left off.
Through Monday night's 12-1 win over Miami, in which Judge went 2-4 with a home run and two RBI, he is putting up some superb numbers this season, hitting .351 (20-57), with a .479 on-base percentage and a .614 slugging percentage, with four home runs, 11 RBI, and 13 walks.
Judge has done this moving up to second in the order, ahead of Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius.
The patience at the plate Judge has shown in his new spot in the order has given him the American League lead in two categories, times on base (34) and walks with 13.
All those walks means he is working pitchers, which is what you want to do at the top of the order and run up the pitch count early, as they did Monday against Miami's Caleb Smith, who needed 42 pitches to get through the first inning.
Judge has scored a run in seven straight games and in 10 of his last 11, and is tied for third in the American League with 15 runs scored this season.
Judge's home tun to right field in the second inning on Monday night was his 60th career home run, and he is now the fastest to reach that mark, doing it in just 197 games. Mark McGwire held the record with 60 HR in his first 202 games.
He also extended his hitting streak to 12 games, tied with Seattle's Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna for the longest hitting streak in the majors. Gordon's went from opening day on March 29 to April 13, while Ozuna's went from April 1 to 13.
Judge's slash line during the streak is .400/.534/.711 (18-45), with four homers, 11 RBI, 14 runs scored, two doubles, 12 walks, and 13 strikeouts, which is about one per game.
This is the second-longest hitting streak of Judge's career, as he had a 14-game one, that went from September 17 of last season to opening day this season, March 29.
Through Monday night, Judge has hit safely in 17 straight games at Yankee Stadium, a streak that began September 17 of last season. This ties his career-best streak, which went from June 10 to July 28 last season.
This is the longest active streak in the majors, and in that time, he has a slash line of .361/.494/.869 (22-61), with nine homers, 23 RBI, 19 runs, four doubles, and 17 walks during the streak. He has 15 RBI in his last 16 home games.
The Yankees lineup has so many weapons besides Judge that they became the first team in Major League history to record six individual multi-home run games within the first 15 games of the season without him recording one yet. Judge had seven multi-HR games last season.
Judge has become the leader of this team in the way Derek Jeter was for 20 years, with a quiet determination and is very humble. He will always talk up the team as a whole before patting himself on the back.
In the process, Judge has become the face of the most iconic franchise in baseball, and could be on his way to winning the Most Valuable Player this season, while also putting the Yankees in contention for a championship.