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Aaron Judge.

Watch: Yankees slugger Aaron Judge smacks the hardest-hit ball of the 2017 season

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New York Yankees rookie outfielder Aaron Judge has been one of the biggest surprises in baseball so far this season, putting on an incredible display of power nearly every time he steps to the plate.

He currently leads the league with 18 home runs and is also hitting .330 with 41 RBI to lead the resurgent Yankees offense.

However, what he did on Thursday night against the Boston Red Sox was impressive even for him - and it wasn't even one of the mammoth home runs he's become famous for hitting.

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In the bottom of the sixth inning against Red Sox reliever Fernando Abad, Judge stepped to the plate and, as you can see in the video below, smacked a line drive back up the middle. But the base hit wasn't what was amazing - the fact that it came off Judge's bat at 119.8 mph made it the hardest-hit ball so far in 2017:

Judge finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored as the Yankees cruised to an easy 9-1 victory over their American League East rivals.

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New York catcher Gary Sanchez - himself a rising young star - told ESPN.com after the game that he really enjoys watching the powerful outfielder do his thing at the plate:

"He's amazing, and that's why I call him, 'The Animal,'" Sanchez said through a translator.

Sanchez isn't the only one who makes sure he has a good seat when the 6'7" rookie steps to the plate. Fans and players alike are amazed by what Judge has done so far this season.

Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees

However, on Thursday night, Sanchez was the star for the Yankees, going 2-for-3 with two home runs, five RBI and three runs scored to power the New York offense against struggling Boston starter David Price. Judge said he's happy to see Sanchez getting into a rhythm with his bat and that it will only help the Yankee offense down the road:

"I think he's starting to feel it a little bit now," Judge said. "It's exciting. Every time that guy comes up to the plate, he's due to do some damage."

Sanchez has hit .256 with eight homers and 21 RBI so far this year, but missed some time with an injury earlier in the season.

With Thursday's win, the Yankees improved to 34-23 and lead the AL East race by three games over the Red Sox, who fell to 32-27 with the loss. The Yankees took two of the three games during the mid-week series against their biggest rivals.

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Topics:
MLB National League
MLB World Series
Boston Red Sox
MLB Playoffs
New York Yankees
New York Yankees
MLB
Boston Red Sox
MLB American League

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