Team-oriented Aaron Judge downplays Triple Crown chatter, puts Yankees over accolades

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge hits a home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto, Sunday, June 30, 2024.
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Aaron Judge‘s remarkable season continued as the New York Yankees triumphed over the Toronto Blue Jays 8-1 on Sunday. His performance, including a home run and two RBIs, has solidified his position as a leading contender for both the American League MVP award and the Triple Crown. Aaron Judge’s season batting average has now risen to .316.

The Yankees slugger leads the majors in home runs (31) and RBIs (82), while his batting average is a close second in the American League, trailing Luis Rengifo of the Los Angeles Angels by just .001. This puts him in a prime position to vie for the Triple Crown, a rare achievement that has only been reached four times since 1950 by Mickey Mantle (1956), Frank Robinson (1966), Carl Yastrzemski (1967), and Miguel Cabrera (2012).

However, Aaron Judge’s focus remains on his team. He admitted the allurement of the MLB’s prized award but dismissed any such speculation to make sure he stays team-oriented.

“You guys asked me that last year, two years ago too, it’d be cool, but it’s not my focus,” Aaron Judge said after hitting his 31st home run of the season in Toronto on Sunday. “Like a lot of guys in this room, we don’t play for stuff like that. We play to win. Anytime you put on these pinstripes and wear the ‘NY,’ you’re here to win. If that comes with it, it’d be great, but I think we’re all focused on getting a championship first.” 

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge hits a grand slam home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in New York.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Beyond the Triple Crown categories, Aaron Judge also leads the majors in total bases (213), slugging percentage (.708), and OPS (1.144). He ranks second in walks (61), on-base percentage (.436), and WAR (5.9), closely trailing teammate Juan Soto in OBP and Baltimore Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson in WAR.

However, Yankees manager Aaron Boone believes his captain is above any other MLB star. “It’s just kind of head and shoulders above anything we’re seeing,” Boone said on Sunday. “What him and Juan are doing as a tandem, it is hard to wrap your brain around, especially in this hitting climate.” 

Aaron Judge’s and Soto’s combined efforts have propelled the Yankees to the top of the American League standings, establishing them as formidable contenders. His pursuit of individual accolades, however, will depend on maintaining his health and performance throughout the season’s second half.

“He’s an outstanding player,” Yankees ace Gerrit Cole said about his captain. “He settled into the season nicely and he’s just kind of plugging away like we all expected. He’s able to go on historical runs, MVP-type runs, otherworldly-type runs. He’s just a great player.” 

Though Aaron Judge remained steadfast in his focus, that is to bring the championship glory to the Bronx, he is aware of his duty as an individual player.

“It means we’re getting on base for the guys behind me,” Aaron Judge said. “When you’re in the middle of the order, you got to produce, you got to come up big. Especially with guys on base, especially when [Anthony] Volpe and Soto have been doing their thing all year long, you gotta just follow suit what they’re doing.”

According to Greg Joyce of the Post, Aaron Judge is ” in a strong position to take another crack at capturing the Triple Crown, which has not been done since Miguel Cabrera in 2012….because in a year when offense is down across the majors, Judge is simply dominating pitching unlike anyone else and he is also outperforming his 2022 season.”

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Aaron Judge’s greatness pushing into new heights

His scorching performance at the plate has positioned him as a frontrunner for another American League MVP award, with his recent statistics rivaling his record-breaking 2022 season.

The Yankees slugger claimed AL Player of the Month honors in May, posting a .361 batting average, 1.397 OPS, 14 home runs, and 27 RBIs across 28 games. Aaron Judge followed that with an even more impressive June, hitting .409 with a 1.378 OPS, 11 homers, and 37 RBIs in 25 contests.

As of Monday’s off day, Aaron Judge had accumulated 31 home runs and 82 RBIs in 84 games, putting him on pace to challenge his AL-record 62 homers from last season. His .316 batting average, .708 slugging percentage, and 1.144 OPS have him atop or near the top of several offensive categories.

Since May 4, Aaron Judge has been nearly unstoppable, boasting a .398/.507/.932 slash line with 25 home runs, 64 RBIs, 70 hits, and 36 walks over a 50-game stretch. This surge comes after a relatively slow start to the season. He ended April hitting just .207 with six homers and 18 RBIs. His average bottomed out at .197 on May 2 before his remarkable turnaround began.

The 31-year-old outfielder now leads the majors in home runs, RBIs, and slugging percentage, while sitting just one point behind the Angels’ Luis Rengifo in batting average and one point behind teammate Juan Soto in on-base percentage.

New York Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton celebrates with teammate Aaron Judge after hitting a two-run home run as Juan Soto looks on during the third inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, May 24, 2024, in San Diego.
AP Photo/Gregory Bull

This attention to detail and constant drive for improvement have made Aaron Judge a formidable opponent for pitchers. One rival American League coach, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted, “When he’s going like this, you’re really just hoping he gets himself out.”

As Aaron Judge continues his assault on the record books, his focus remains on team success rather than individual accolades. His ability to adapt and close any perceived weaknesses in his swing has scouts and coaches alike marveling at his sustained excellence.

“If there’s a hole, I can promise you, it won’t be open long,” Yankees hitting coach James Rowson said. “Because he’s going to make the adjustment and close that hole on his own.”

As the season unfolds, both baseball enthusiasts and analysts will keep a close watch on Judge’s quest for both team success and individual honors, potentially witnessing a historic season.

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