MIAMI -- New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge stole the show and won the 2017 Home Run Derby with shocking ease Monday night at Marlins Park. Judge dispatched Marlins slugger Justin Bour in the first round (23-22), Dodgers rookie sensation Cody Bellinger in the second round (13-12), and Twins manchild Miguel Sano in the finals (11-10).
The highlight of the night was, pretty clearly, Judge's first round matchup with Bour. The Miami first baseman put on an incredible show, swatting 22 home runs and bringing the decidedly pro-Marlins crowd to its feet. It was an amazing atmosphere. As someone who sat in the stands for Josh Hamilton's show in the 2008 Home Run Derby, I can say Bour got the crowd as amped as Hamilton did that night.
And yet, Judge came out and clubbed 23 home runs to beat Bour, and he did it with time to spare as well. You can see video of the first-round winning home run right here.
"I was already nervous going into it. I think everybody was a little nervous," Judge said. "Once Justin put on that show like that, I just had to go to work. I was having fun out there and just had to go to work."
Within the first round, Judge managed to hit a ball off the roof structure at Marlins Park. He did that in batting practice as well.
I'm told by a Marlins coach that nobody has ever hit the roof in BP including Stanton. Judge just did. This is going to be good— F.P. Santangelo (@FightinHydrant) July 10, 2017
Here's video of the home run that clanked off the roof:
Amazingly, that ball did not count as a home run. That ball would have sailed out of the park with ease, but per the ground rules, it did not count. So Judge actually hit 24 home runs to beat Bour, not 23.
"Yeah, I thought that one got out, but I guess it didn't," Judge said of the roof non-homer. "I wasn't trying to watch it. I was so locked in I was trying to hit it and keep going. I thought I had 23 already, but I guess I tied him."
In the second round against Bellinger, Judge hit home runs that measured 503, 507, and 513 feet. Here are the five longest homers hit Monday:
- Aaron Judge: 513 feet
- Aaron Judge: 507 feet
- Aaron Judge: 504 feet
- Aaron Judge: 501 feet
- Giancarlo Stanton: 496 feet
Stanton hit one 492 feet and Sano hit one 491 feet. No other player hit one over 490 feet. Here is video of Judge's massive 513-foot bomb that clanked off the windows in left field at Marlins Park:
.@TheJudge44 hit FOUR homers over 500 feet, including this 513-foot blast â longest of the @Tmobile#HRDerby. pic.twitter.com/nWCYOQVVlY— MLB (@MLB) July 11, 2017
Three things about Judge's Home Run Derby display really stood out to me. One, he enjoyed the heck out of it but tried hard not to show it. Judge is very much a gentle giant. He's quiet and unassuming. And yet, after some of those massive blasts, he couldn't help but laugh at himself. Evidence:
Judge smiled at his own home runs and made Dellin Betances do this:
.@TheJudge44 has this effect on people …— All-Star Game (@AllStarGame) July 11, 2017
@TMobile #HRDerby pic.twitter.com/gWkBzGedSI
Secondly, Judge was launching opposite field home runs into the second deck in right field. The left-handed power hitters like Bour and Bellinger were hitting them up there. He was doing it as a right-handed hitter going to the opposite field. Here is Judge's spray chart, via Baseball Savant:
"I tried to use the whole field and just square up every ball I could," Judge said. "Since there was a clock on there, you can't really take pitches and pick one out. If it's away, I try to drive it to right. If it's middle in, try to hit the glass out there."
And third, Judge did not square up all the home runs he hit in the Home Run Derby. He got under a few and popped them out, and they still carried over the fence. The man is that strong. The second and third home runs in his clip are clearly not squared up:
Is @TheJudge44 real life?@TMobile #HRDerby pic.twitter.com/jrngUAQlX8— All-Star Game (@AllStarGame) July 11, 2017
Insane. How is this guy real? Judge hit his 11th home run to beat Sano in the finals with 1 minute, 53 seconds still on the clock.
When it was all over, his four fellow Yankees All-Stars (Betances, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Starlin Castro) showered him with Gatorade, as per sports celebration customs:
You’ve gotta cool him off somehow.@tmobile #HRDerby pic.twitter.com/ISimvPGU1A— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) July 11, 2017
"I had no pressure. I'm a rookie. This is my first time doing it," Judge said.
Something tells me this will not be his last time participating in the Home Run Derby. Or winning it.
"I try to take everything one day at a time," Judge said. "That's what's helped me along this first half of the year. Not really worried about what happened last year. I still remember it. I look at it every day that I hit .179. I have had wonderful people help me out through the offseason through the years. And I can't thank them enough for where I'm at right now. For me, just try to take it one day at a time helps me out."
America, if you weren't paying attention to the historic season Aaron Judge is having prior to Monday night's Home Run Derby, start paying attention. This man is a true freak of nature in the very best of baseball-smashing ways.