New York Yankees outfielder, Aaron Judge, came into his rookie season with a bang. Whereas many rookies struggle to prove their skill, he quickly became a superstar. Check out the career history of one of MLB’s best players.
Rookie MLB Draft
In the 2010 Major League Baseball draft, the Oakland Athletics chose Judge in the 31st round. However, instead of joining the MLB, he decided to attend college at California State University, Fresno.
Playing three sports in high school, Aaron Judge was forced to choose which one to pursue at the college level. He played and excelled at baseball, football, and basketball. He broke many records in high school, including the most touchdowns on the football field and the most points per game in basketball.
He received a scholarship offer for both football and baseball and ultimately chose to play baseball in college, where he earned Freshman All-American status and even made it on the All-Mountain West Conference Team for three years. Judge led his college baseball team to back-to-back College World Series in 2011 and 2012.
MLB Draft Post College
Three years later, after his first draft, Judge was chosen in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft by the New York Yankees. The team had been closely following his career in college and was impressed with everything he’d accomplished so far. Although Judge was drafted in 2013, he didn’t make his official debut on the field until 2014. He suffered an injury during training that benched him for the full season.
Most fanatics recognize number 99 as the superstar rookie Aaron Judge. He’d always dreamed of wearing either number 35 or 44 on the field. But, after joining the New York Yankees, neither numbers were available. Number 35 has been worn by Pineda since 2014 and number 44 belonged to baseball champion Reggie Jackson, whose jersey has since been retired.
Aaron Judge’s first-year post-injury was spent with the Charleston RiverDogs. He did so well that he was shortly promoted to the Class-A Advanced League. In 2015, the New York Yankees invited Judge to spring training. He started the 2015 season with the Trenton Thunder of the Class AA Eastern League. Later, he moved to the Class AAA International League — the highest level of play in MLB.
After continuing to impress on the field, the New York Yankees chose Judge to represent the team for the 2015 All-star of the Futures Game, an annual event that pairs American League prospects against National League prospects.
New York Yankees Appearance of 2016
The New York Yankees invited Aaron Judge back to spring training again in 2016. He started the season in the Minor Leagues, playing a total of 93 games with the RailRiders. Judge then made his first appearance with the New York Yankees on August 13, 2016, against the Tampa Bay Rays, where he captured the attention of fans by hitting a home run his first time up to bat.
He went on to hit another home run in his second-ever MLB game, becoming the second rookie in Yankee history to hit a home run in his first two professional baseball games. Judge continued to impress fans and players alike until he suffered another injury and was placed back on the team’s disabled list.
Real Rookie Year of 2017
By 2017, Judge was healed and ready to shine. He started the season with the New York Yankees on Opening Day against the Tampa Bay Rays. His first multiple home run game was shortly after, on April 28, 2017, against the Baltimore Orioles. Just a month into his rookie year, he hit his first Grand Slam against the Oakland Athletics, the same team he’d been drafted to play for in 2010.
Judge went on to win many awards in his first season and was named the second rookie ever in MLB history to hit a total of 40 runs in a single season. He completed the season with a total of 52 home runs. During his 2017 rookie season, Judge broke many records. He won the Home Run Derby, making him the first MLB rookie to do so. The American League also named him Rookie of the Month in April, May, June, and September.
In his first year, Judge became a household name. He hit a total of 13 home runs in 29 games. He isn’t just good at slamming the ball so far into the outfield that a home run is likely, he also has impressive speed when doing it. It’s not uncommon for the ball to reach speeds of up to 115 mph after hitting the end of Judge’s bat.
Record Hitting Strength and Speed
Aaron Judge hit a 121.1 mph ball, the fastest in MLB history since they started using equipment to record speed. This led to a projected 382-foot distance and a solo home run. Judge’s hits also average a distance of over 400 feet. Of course, with these stats, it’s no surprise that fanatics in the crowd stop what they’re doing and pay attention when Judge comes up to bat.
While no one wants to miss his record-breaking potential, paying attention could also be important for safety purposes. He’s been known to hit the ball into audiovisual equipment and TVs during practice. On July 2, 2017, Aaron Judge also hit a ball so hard that it almost flew out of SafeCo Field. The Statcast wasn’t able to get a read on its speed. In August, while playing at Citi Field, he hit a ball so far that it reached the third observation deck.
Judge was chosen again to play in the All-Star Game of 2017. He received a record-breaking 4 million votes, the most of any American League player in history. At the conclusion of the 2017 season, Judge had recorded 52 home runs, a .284 batting average, and 114 RBIs. The Yankees made it to the World Series in a wild card spot but ultimately were defeated by the Cleveland Indians.
Judge started the 2018 season as a center fielder, making him the tallest and heaviest player to hold the position. He also earned a starting outfielder position in the 2018 All-Star Game. Early in the season, Judge was injured by a hardball, which caused him to miss much of the year. He returned on September 18, 2018. That season, the Yankees beat out the Oakland Athletics in the wild card game but lost against the Red Sox.
Judge started the 2019 season off strong with five home runs and 11 RBIs but was injured again. He made his return in the 2019 season in August, when he also hit the 100th home run of his career. In September, at a game at Fenway Park, Judge smashed a home run over the Green Monster, also setting a team record for the most home runs in a season.
Much of the shortened 2020 season Judge spent recovering from a rib stress fracture. When he returned, he went a total of five games with a home run in each game. He was injured two more times in the season, limiting his field time.
The 2021 season was filled with more record-breaking stats for Judge. He was named American League Player of the Week for the fourth time, earned his first walk-off RBI, and was named Fielding Bible Award winner. Judge also went on to win a Silver Slugger Award and the Player’s Choice Award.
Aaron Judge has been compared to the likes of MLB’s greatest players, including Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. This leaves many fanatics to wonder what’s next for Aaron Judge. He officially went to free agency in 2022, which means he’s no longer under contract with the New York Yankees.
Important Aaron Judge Stats
Many would argue that the best of Judge is yet to come. These are just some of his most impressive MLB stats thus far:
- First rookie with 100 walks in a single season since 1953.
- Second rookie to reach 40 home runs in a single season.
- One of five Yankees ever to hit 40 home runs in a single season at 25 years or younger.
- Most home runs hit at home by a Yankees player, beating out Babe Ruth.
- Tallest and heaviest player to play center field position.
Off the field, Judge prefers to blend in. On the field, Judge is confident and often referred to as a powerhouse with his long list of historical plays. He’s also hard to miss at 6-foot-7-inches. In his short career with professional baseball, Judge has already broken many records and is a favorite at the midway point of the 2022 season to win this year’s MVP award and is on pace to hit 50+ home runs. Judge fans can only expect him to continue on this trend.
Stock up on Aaron Judge officially licensed sports apparel and memorabilia to wear to his next game. Fans can also celebrate some of Judge’s greatest moments with sports collectibles, like signed jerseys or photographs. Signed collectibles across all leagues also make for the perfect gift for sports fans.