‘Pretty special’ Aaron Judge just unstoppable, crushes 25th home run

Yankees' Aaron Judge reacts after hitting a two-run home run vs. the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on June 11, 2024.
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Inna Zeyger
Wednesday June 12, 2024

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Aaron Judge‘s home run prowess has become almost routine for the New York Yankees, with his teammates anticipating a long ball every time he steps up to bat. Despite the high and often unrealistic expectations, the Yankees slugger continues to exceed them, especially in his recent 41-game stretch.

In Tuesday night’s dominant 10-1 win over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium, Aaron Judge launched his Major League-leading 25th home run, a towering 436-foot blast, adding yet another multihit performance to his remarkable run. The former AL MVP and Rookie of the Year has been on a tear, hitting .401 with 21 home runs and 49 RBIs during this span for the Bronx Bombers.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone marveled at Aaron Judge’s consistent brilliance, acknowledging that while he tried not to take it for granted, it was a joy to witness his nightly exploits.

“I’m trying not to take that for granted … but I mean, it’s a lot of fun to witness and to watch what he’s doing on a nightly basis,” manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s pretty special.”

With his 2-for-4, three-RBI showing on Tuesday, Aaron Judge is now tied with the Guardians’ Jose Ramirez for the Major League lead in RBIs (62). He also leads MLB in on-base percentage (.437), slugging percentage (.712), OPS (1.149), and walks (55).

Yankees' Aaron Judge runs after hitting a two-run home run vs. the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on June 11, 2024.
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A slow start but Aaron Judge continues steady homer spree

Aaron Judge began the 2024 season slowly, hitting just .207 in March and April. However, he has since catapulted to the top of the leaderboards. His torrid 41-game pace, if extended over a full 162-game season, would project to an astonishing 83 home runs, 194 RBIs, and 190 runs scored. This stretch has also lifted his batting average to .309, placing Aaron Judge among an elite group of AL hitters above the .300 mark, including Bobby Witt (.321), Juan Soto (.316), and Adley Rutschman (.301).

Boone commended Aaron Judge’s resilience in overcoming a slow start to the 2024 season. Despite hitting around .200 in April, he has lifted his batting average to .309 through consistent performance, a point of pride for the slugger.

“I think he takes a lot of pride in that,” the Yankees manager said. “Considering the month of April, where he was down around .200, to be up to that is just another testament to the kind of run he’s been on.”

Aaron Judge attributed his turnaround to the support of teammates like Juan Soto, who reached base twice on Tuesday, and Giancarlo Stanton, who launched a 446-foot home run in the seventh inning. The Yankees captain mentioned that during his slump, he focused less on his own stats and more on Soto’s impressive numbers to stay positive.

“I try not to look up [at my stats], even when I’m hitting .150, I try not to look up there,” the slugger explained. “I try to look at Soto’s stats while I’m up there to feel good about myself. … It’s still early in the season; I’m just trying to put together good at-bats. We are facing some tough teams with some great pitching staffs.”

Yankees' Aaron Judge reacts in dugout after hitting a two-run home run vs. the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on June 11, 2024.
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During his outstanding 41-game stretch, Aaron Judge has hit 21 home runs against some of the league’s top pitchers, including Yu Darvish, Luis Castillo, Tarik Skubal, Pablo López, Dylan Cease, Logan Webb, and Bryce Miller. This achievement places him among an elite group, making him the third player in Major League history to record 30 extra-base hits in a 30-game span, alongside Joe DiMaggio (1937) and Chick Hafey (1928).

A fruitful refreshment

After a rare day off on Monday, Aaron Judge quickly returned to form, extending his Major League-best on-base streak to 36 games with an opposite-field RBI single in the first inning of Tuesday’s game against the Kansas City Royals.

His 2-for-4 performance on Tuesday actually lowered his on-base percentage during his impressive 41-game stretch, which stood at .520 before the game. This multihit showing marked Aaron Judge’s 10th consecutive game with two or more hits, making him only the second Yankee since 2015 to achieve this feat, joining DJ LeMahieu, who did it in 2019.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo, returning to the lineup on Tuesday for the first time since Saturday, made a remarkable over-the-shoulder catch in the fourth inning. He praised Aaron Judge’s daily performance, character, and work ethic, emphasizing that no one should not take the captain’s achievements for granted.

“What he does, who he is, how he handles himself, the way he works, it’s something that I don’t think any of us can take for granted,” he said.

As Aaron Judge continues to lead by example, the Yankees aim to build on their success and maintain their position atop the American League standings.

Complementing the captain’s stellar performance, Yankees starter Marcus Stroman pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, helping New York (48-21) reach a season-high 27 games above .500. The Yankees, who have the lowest ERA (2.85) in the Majors, have held opponents to three runs or fewer in 43 games this season, the most in MLB. Stroman praised his teammates’ offensive efforts, noting that their success at the plate has made the game more enjoyable and boosted confidence throughout the roster, with everyone seemingly thriving and feeding off each other’s performances.

As Aaron Judge’s remarkable streak continues to leave its mark on the season, it appears he is his own toughest critic. Despite his impressive numbers, he remains unsatisfied with his performance so far, hinting that hitting .330 in November might be the benchmark for considering this season a success.

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