|Aaron Judge at bat on May 11 when the Yankees took on the Toronto Blue Jays. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Major League Baseball announced their various Player of the Month awards for May, and the Yankees cleaned up, as two of the biggest reasons they are off to their best start since 1998 were honored.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge was honored as the American League Player of the Month, and Clay Holmes was named the American League Reliever of the Month.
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone was asked on Friday afternoon in his pregame press conference before they open a new series with the Detroit Tigers about what they have meant to this team, and he said, "As big a reason as any that we're off to such a good start, have such a good record. Clay's been amazing for us, obviously, out of the bullpen,and Judgie's consistency, and you know, really being consistently dominant, 19 homers now, hitting for a high average, playing really well, whether it's right field, center field, wherever I put him, you know, he's off to kind of that MVP-type start. So, those guys have been huge for us."
Judge is putting together a season to rival his 2017 campaign, when he ran away with the Rookie of the Year Award, leads the Major Leagues with 19 home runs, and his .659 slugging percentage also leads the league. Judge is hitting .303 with a .374 on-base percentage, and he has 39 RBI, 23 walks, nine doubles and 40 runs scored, which ranks second in MLB, along with his 1.033 OPS. (All stats are through June 2nd).
In 27 games in May, Judge posted a slash line of .311/.378/.699 with 12 home runs, 25 RBI, 32 hits, 25 runs scored, four doubles. and two stolen bases. Judge had three multi-homer games in May (May 1st (2 HR at Kansas City), May 17th (two HR at Baltimore, and May 23rd (2 vs. Baltimore).
This is the second time Judge hit .310-or-better with at least 12 home runs in a month since September 2017, which clinched him that Rookie of the Year award. The last Yankee other than Judge to accomplish the feat was Mark Teixeira in May 2009.
Holmes, whom the Yankees acquired from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline last season, has been a revelation out of the Yankees bullpen this season.
The tall right-hander earned his seventh save of the season in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader with the Angels, and he recently became the closer when Aroldis Chapman was placed on the injured list on May 24 with Achilles tendinitis, although, since his pitching has been so superb, he might have been put in the role anyway.
Holmes delivered 12 scoreless appearances in May, while converting each of his four save opportunities. He went a perfect 3-0, and pitched 14 innings, in which he struck out 15, didn't allow a walk, and allowed just eight hits. He became the second pitcher in Yankee history to not allow a single run or walk while notching at least 15 K's in a month, joining the big lefty Andrew Miller, who did it in April 2016.
Holmes had already been on the rise, but he made a major statement when he completed a four-out save in a chaotic 7-5 win over the Chicago White Sox on May 21. Boone said of Holmes in his postgame comments that day, "He's been special. You know, probably as good a reliever as there's been in the league, I would think to this point, I can't imagine anyone better. To come in, obviously there in a big spot, I wanted him facing the top of their order with all those righties coming up, and to be as pitch-efficient as he was doing it against some great right-handed hitters, yeah, he's off to a really special start, and it's fun to watch him go out and do his thing."
Boone said of the secret to Holmes' success, "He's got the best sinker in the world, as simple as that."
The Yankees skipper was asked that day if Holmes would get more save opportunities, especially with the struggles Chapman had to that point, and he said, "I mean, that was as big a save opportunity as you could have today in a four-out situation. I think that kind of speaks for itself."