Though he's still technically a rookie, Aaron Judge was the heavy favorite to win Monday night's Home Run Derby in Miami and he didn't disappoint.
The young New York Yankees slugger put on a show, cruising to an easy victory over Miguel Sano in the finals to add another accolade to his already stellar 2017 season.
Judge's hot start to the 2017 season has caught MLB commissioner Rob Manfred's eye, as he said on Tuesday that he believes Judge has the popularity and talent to eventually become the face of Major League Baseball.
After calling Judge "absolutely phenomenal," Manfred doubled down on his statement to ESPN.com, saying the young slugger is already one of the league's brightest stars:
"I mean, there is no other word to describe it," Manfred said. "He is a tremendous talent on the field and really appealing off the field."
In a league with Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and a slew of other young superstars, the praise from Manfred to Judge is even more impressive, as Judge is less proven than those other talented outfielders.
Judge finished his first All-Star Game a disappointing 0-for-3 at the plate, but didn't let that fact dampen his spirits after the fun event, telling the New York Daily News that he had a blast this week in Miami:
“I was a little sore and tired from the Derby, but I was just running on adrenaline," he said. "This was an awesome experience. The goal was to have fun and compete, and that’s what happened. What a couple days.”
As for the commissioner's praise, Judge said he appreciates Manfred's support but added that he is only focused on helping the Yankees win games at the moment:
“It’s pretty cool. But it’s not my job to worry about that. I’ve got a job to do on the field, and I feel like that other stuff will take care of itself.”
Judge is certainly doing everything he can to help his team stay competitive in the American League East division, as he currently leads all of baseball with a whopping 30 home runs and is also batting an impressive .329 with 66 RBI.
The Yankees, though, are currently caught in a bit of a slump, as they've lost seven of their last 10 games and currently find themselves in second place, 3.5 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox entering the second half of the season.
However, if Judge keeps doing what he's capable of doing and his teammates step up behind him, a playoff berth - whether as division champions or as a wildcard - could be in the works for New York.
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