10 Times Aaron Judge Showed Us He’s A Superhero

The Bronx Bombers have their swagger back, in large part due to the presence of their Hulk-sized rookie, Aaron Judge. Judge is having – literally – the best rookie season of all time. No matter how you slice it, #99 is dominating baseball. He leads all players in homeruns, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, WAR, etc.

But for all of those statistical superlatives, it’s the way that Judge has dominated that is so impressive. It’s the way the bat looks like a toy in his massive hands. It’s the way he moves his 270-pound frame around the outfield like a young Julius Peppers on the prowl. And of course – the homeruns. Each one more bombastic than the last, shattering records and pitchers’ egos with such ease, Judge’s dingers just look, sound and feel different.

Baseball has a superhero, and his name is Aaron James Judge.

1. Breaks DiMaggio’s rookie HR record… in July!

Being mentioned in the same sentence as Joltin’ Joe is quite the compliment. But Aaron Judge is re-writing the Yankees rookie record book, so passing DiMaggio is just a historical footnote on the way to greatness. Judge is not only going to blow past the Yankee Clipper, but he is on pace to smash Mark McGwire’s rookie homerun record of 49. And while 73 feels out of reach, Roger Maris’s Yankee record of 61 long balls is certainly attainable.

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2. Lays out for amazing catch, turns double play

We all know about the dingers. Judge’s prodigious power is the product of a godlike physique. Which makes his ability to cover right field all the more impressive. He covers significant real estate with his massive strides, and possesses tremendous athleticism and coordination to pull off highlight reel catches, like this one:

Bonus: the fact that Judge is about Brett Gardner’s height while kneeling just brings joy to the viewer.

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3. Hits longest HR of 2017

The ball might be juiced this year (see exhibit A and B), but it still takes the most powerful man in baseball to hit a bomb 495 feet. According to ESPN, there hasn’t been a longer homerun since Adam Dunn hit one 504 feet on September 27, 2008. Don’t be surprised if Judge clears the 500-foot mark this year.

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4. Robs a homer without jumping

So here’s the thing about Aaron Judge: he’s really tall. So tall that he was actually underrated for being tall. Any baseball player who’s 6’7” usually becomes a pitcher; there aren’t a ton of comps for Khal Drogo-sized outfielders. The prevailing wisdom is that a player that tall is more susceptible to injury, and also can struggle to cover the enormous strike zone his body creates. Well, the latter hasn’t been a problem for Judge, and fingers crossed that the former won’t be, either. In the meantime, he can continue using his massive frame to do things like rob a homerun (or double) without leaving the ground:

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5. Hits hardest HR in Statcast era

Before this season, any comparisons of Judge and Giancarlo Stanton seemed incredibly bullish. Sure, the size was there, and the powerful swing, but could Judge translate the tools to in-game power? The answer has been a resounding yes. Stanton used to be the gold standard for exit velocity, but no more. The prevalence of Statcast data means that even casual fans see exit velocity on broadcasts, making it fairly mainstream. And Judge is the new king of hitting the ball hard:

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6. Hits 2 batting practice moonshots, terrifies fan

It’s funny that this happened at the O.co Coliseum, mere steps from Oracle Arena, because the only comparison this writer can think of for Aaron Judge’s batting practice displays are Steph Curry’s pre-game warmups. This fan was shocked enough that Judge reached the upper deck of the Coliseum, but was positively thunderstruck when a second ball rocketed into the same section. Now Judge is just showing off.

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7. Happy Birthday Mr. Judge

What better way to celebrate your birthday than hitting your first homerun in your rival’s home park. Judge hit an opposite-field bomb, exemplifying ridiculous power since right-center in Boston is very hard to clear for a righty. But that dinger seems commonplace next to the sliding catch our hero makes in foul territory. Given that these age-old foes will be battling for the AL East crown all year, the Sox stand to suffer much more heartbreak at the hands of #99.

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8. Homers after fouling off 6 pitches

At-bats like this are what prove that #99 is so much more than just a power hitter. He has an amazing eye, so he only offers at pitches he can do damage to. And when he gets to two strikes, he has the bat-to-ball skills to fight off a few pitcher’s pitches, as he does in this marathon plate appearance. We’re still waiting on the adjustment that pitchers will make that will force Judge out of his comfort zone. We might be waiting a long time.

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9. Puts a dent in Yankee Stadium

One thing about superheroes is that they always leave a mess. Sure, our favorite masked men and women save the day, but they usually destroy a city block while doing it. MLB’s resident superhero is a little more considerate though – this particular frozen rope left a nice dent in the stadium. We’re hoping Hank Steinbrenner doesn’t take the repair cost out of Judge’s salary for damage to company property, but given that he’s the leading MVP candidate and making $544,500 this season, Hank would be wise to overlook it.

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10. Gets the “Bonds Treatment”

If an intentional walk is a sign of respect, then an intentional walk with the bases empty is the ultimate compliment. Clearly White Sox manager Rick Renteria felt that a Judge solo shot was likely enough to warrant a free pass, even with a talented Yankees lineup. Would Renteria have walked Judge with the bases loaded and a 2-run lead?

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