The Yankees star is on pace for a season high, and it could prove beneficial in this year's free agency
CC: Big News
NEW YORK CITY, N.Y, (Jun, 6,2022) - Coming off a three-game sweep against the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees star Aaron Judge joined a special club after hitting his league-leading 21st home run on Saturday, June 4.
The 30-year-old became the fourth player in franchise history to hit that many home runs in the team's first 53 games, a feat accomplished by Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Luke Voit. Judge said he felt honored to be mentioned in the same conversation as some of baseball's greats.
“That’s tough to describe,” Judge said. “Especially two guys like that. It’s an honor any time you’ve got Yankees legends like that, you’ve got a chance to be mentioned in the same category, in the same sentence as them."
Since opening day Judge has been lighting up the league on offensive and defense. This came after he turned down a seven-year, $230.5 million deal, which is an AAV of $30.5 offered by team general manager Brian Cashman. Judge chose to gamble on himself and so far it proves to be the right decision.
Judge is currently on pace for 63 home runs, 11 more than his season high. In 53 games he recorded a .316 batting average and 41 RBIs. On defense, he played out field, center field and right field. He recorded 93 putouts, two assists and zero errors.
He took over the center field position after long-time veteran Brett Gardner left in free agency. Since then, he has made huge plays like robing Los Angeles Angels superstar pitcher Shohei Ohtani of a home run on Tuesday, May 31.
“The space and kind of control I feel like I can be a little more vocal, I can talk to the guys,” Judge said of playing centerfield. “I can move guys around a little bit more because I’m right there in the middle so I can see different things. What guys swings are, where the pitches are, because in right and left (field), you are kind of just reacting. You can’t really see it. ‘Hey, was that ball in and was that away?’ You know why they take a swing like that. So just being able to communicate a little bit more. Just kind of talk with Joey (Gallo) and Miguel (Andujar) or (Aaron Hicks), if he’s out there too. I just enjoy it. It’s part of the game out there.”
Team manager Aaron Boone said he had Judge play center a few times last season after believing he had potential at the position.
“Yeah, I just got sick of them in my office. I said, ‘Fine. Let’s go,’” Boone joked of Judge bugging him about playing center. “Early on, not that I thought he was joking, but he’d always tell me, even probably my first year managing here, ‘I can play center if you need me to.’ I’d dismissed it but it started in my mind becoming like, ‘Well, maybe this is something we should do.’ He took to it right away last year. He is very, very natural out there. And yeah, I wish I would have had him play it earlier than last year.”
If Judge stays at his current pace, he could score a massive contract whether it's with the Yankees or any other team. However, the Yankees 39-15 record could mean the team is on pace for the World Series so the team has a reason to keep him long term. Judge also brought in a lot of revenue with his jersey sales ranking in the top 10 every season of his career, according to an article from Forbes.
The Yankees will be back on Tuesday, June 7 against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Judge will currently stay focused on proving himself while he and the Yankees try to work out an agreement. Regardless Judge said he wants to be the best player he can be and help the Yankees win.
“I’m not trying to be Ruth,” Judge said. “I’m just trying to be the best Aaron Judge that I can be, and I just want to stay consistent for this team and keep this thing rolling.”