Aaron Judge wins 2017 Home Run Derby, all our hearts

If you don't know now you know. (Presswire)
If you don’t know now you know. (Presswire)

Monday night at Miami, Aaron Judge stole the show and won the 2017 Home Run Derby. He beat Justin Bour 23-22 in the first round, Cody Bellinger 13-12 in the second round, and Miguel Sano 11-10 in the third round. Judge was on another level. The last two rounds were actually anticlimactic.

The first round matchup with Bour was the highlight of the night. The hometown Marlin clubbed an incredible 22 home runs and had the crowd going nuts. Judge came back to hit 23 with time to spare. It was amazing. Bour had an amazing and fun round, and Judge knocked him right out.

In the second round Judge socked home runs measuring 504, 507, and 513 feet. He also hit one off the Marlins Park roof that didn’t count, so he really socked 24 against Bour. Judge also went opposite field into the second deck a few times, where the lefty power guys were hitting bombs. It was insane. Here’s some video:

Judge is the fourth Yankee to win the Home Run Derby, joining Tino Martinez (1999), Jason Giambi (2003), and Robinson Cano (2012). His 47 home runs are a Yankees record for the Home Run Derby. He could have topped Stanton’s record of 61 homers had they allowed him to hit until time expires. (As the higher seed, his round ended as soon as he topped his opponent’s total.)

As for Gary Sanchez, he knocked off Stanton in the first round 17-16 before losing to Sano in the second round 11-10. Sanchez seemed to run out of gas in the second round. Oh well. Nice try, Gary. Not bad for the second most awesome young Yankees slugger.

2017 Home Run Derby Open Thread

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

This is the first time that I have ever been excited for the Home Run Derby. I’ve enjoyed watching it before, to be sure, and I will never cease to be amazed by the towering shots that most of the competitors are capable of hitting on a year-to-year basis – but it has never before felt like must-see TV. And, despite my own Yankees fandom, it isn’t just because of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.

Well, to be fair, it is mostly because of Judge and Sanchez. At the same time, though, I’m excited to see Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Sano, who were jockeying for the “most impressive batting practice” crown before Judge arrived on the scene. I’m similarly stoked to see Cody Bellinger come to the plate, as he has essentially played the role of Aaron Judge West this year. And seeing MLB use this event as an opportunity to market three young, blossoming stars in NYC and Los Angeles is basically a feather in its cap.

Here is tonight’s bracket:

bracket

This sets up the possibility of a Judge vs. Bellinger semi-finals, and a Judge vs. Stanton (or Sanchez) finals. It’s rare that something as simple as a bracket is intriguing, but here we are.

The Home Run Derby will begin at 8 PM EST, and will be broadcast on ESPN. Feel free to discuss the derby and anything else (that isn’t religion or politics) here.

Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby

Hell yes. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Hell yes. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

The Yankees will have not one, but two players in the Home Run Derby this year. Both Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez announced today they have accepted Home Run Derby invitations and will take their hacks next Monday at Marlins Park. Awesome. Here’s their announcement. Both guys are planning to use Yankees regular batting practice pitcher Danilo Valiente for the Home Run Derby.

It’s uncommon but not unprecedented for one team to have two players in the Home Run Derby. Both Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes were in the Home Run Derby in 2014, when they were with the Athletics. Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Morneau did it as members of the Rockies that year too. There have been other teammates in the Home Run Derby over the years as well.

Judge and Sanchez will be the first Yankees to participate in the Home Run Derby since Robinson Cano swung away in three straight from 2011-13. The last Yankee other than Cano in the Home Run Derby was Nick Swisher in 2010. Three Yankees have won the Home Run Derby: Cano (2011), Jason Giambi (2002), and Tino Martinez (1997). Giambi finished third in the 2003 Home Run Derby.

MLB changed the Home Run Derby format two years ago. Players are now given five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible — they can earn bonus time based on home run distance and things like that — and they meet head-to-head in a bracket style tournament, so it’s possible Judge and Sanchez could face each other. The players are seeded 1-8 based on their season homer total.

I’m sure there are some people out there freaking out about Judge and/or Sanchez screwing up their swings in the Home Run Derby, though the “curse” is largely a myth. There’s been a ton of research on it, like this, this, and this. Pick eight players at random and chances are several of them will perform worse in the second half than the first. That’s all the Home Run Derby curse is. Just sit back and enjoy it.

So far the only other confirmed Home Run Derby contestants are Giancarlo Stanton, the defending champ and token hometown player, and Miguel Sano. Cody Bellinger has been invited, though he said he will not participate unless his father (ex-Yankee Clay Bellinger) can rearrange his schedule to make it to Miami to pitch to him. Both Joey Gallo and Bryce Harper declined invites.

Game 68: Home Sweet Home

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Thank goodness the Yankees are back home again. That road trip was a nightmare. Six losses in seven games and five injuries too, including two DL stints (CC Sabathia and Adam Warren) and one setback (Greg Bird), and not including one top prospect blowing out his damn elbow on a slide (Gleyber Torres). But that’s baseball. A little adversity never hurt anyone.

On paper, the Yankees are set up well to bounce back this series. They’re throwing their three best starting pitchers against the Angels, who are starting a pitcher acquired in a cash trade, the league leader in home runs allowed, and a converted reliever. Also, the Yankees are 22-9 at home and have outscored their opponents by 83 (!) runs. The Yankees have hit .285/.367/.524 at home this year. They’re a lineup of Nelson Cruzes (.288/.369/.517) at Yankee Stadium. Here is the Angels’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks (the Achilles is healthy)
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. C Gary Sanchez
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    RHP Michael Pineda

Lovely day in New York today. The sky will be nice and clear tonight. Good night to snap a six-game losing streak. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) is feeling better and will take full batting practice with Double-A Trenton tomorrow. There is still no firm timetable for his return though … Warren (shoulder) saw the doctor today and has inflammation in his rotator cuff. No structural damage. They pumped him full of steroids and he’ll rest for a bit before he resumes throwing … Bird (ankle) is seeing a specialist today.

All-Star Voting: According to MLB’s latest update, Judge is still the AL’s leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game. His 2,631,284 votes are nearly half-a-million more than second place Jose Altuve (2,185,035). Pretty awesome. Castro (second), Holliday (second), Gregorius (third), Sanchez (third), and Gardner (eighth) are all getting a bunch of support at their positions as well. Here’s the All-Star ballot. Go vote.

Home Run Derby: Judge has been invited to the Home Run Derby, according to the Associated Press. Hooray! He has not yet decided whether to participate, however. Judge should do it. He should so do it.

Saturday Links: Judge, Home Run Derby, Players Weekend

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

This nightmare of a West Coast trip continues this afternoon with the third of four games against the Athletics. I look forward to seeing what creative way the bullpen lets a late lead slip away in this one. Anyway, here are some random bits of news and notes to check out while you wait for the game.

Judge not yet invited to Home Run Derby

In about three weeks, MLB will officially announce this year’s Home Run Derby contestants. Aaron Judge, who leads MLB with 23 homers, has not yet received an invite, he recently told Brendan Kuty. “I haven’t even thought about it. I’ll wait to the day (I’m invited), I guess,” he said. Here’s what Joe Girardi told George King about Judge and the Home Run Derby:

“From watching BP, I have a better idea. Some guys don’t have the power to all fields like Aaron Judge has,’’ Girardi said before the Yankees’ 3-2 loss to the Angels in 11 innings on Tuesday night. “When you watch his BP, there are a lot of homers going to right and lot of homers going to center. Sometimes you worry about them doing something they don’t do during the course of a game. To me it would just be a normal BP.’’

As I said a few weeks ago, I am 100% on board with Judge participating in the Home Run Derby, and it would be a great thing for MLB and the Yankees. People can’t take their eyes off this guy. He’s someone you want front and center in one of the game’s biggest events. I couldn’t be any less worried about some sort of Home Run Derby hangover effect either. You see how this guy makes adjustments? Put Judge in the Home Run Derby.

MLB will have a “Players Weekend” in August

According to Jeff Passan, MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to hold a “Players Weekend” from August 25th to 27th in which uniform rules will be relaxed. Players will be allowed to put nicknames on the back of their jerseys, wear bright cleats, and put a personalized patch on their jersey. The jerseys will be sold afterwards with proceeds going to the league’s Youth Development Foundation.

Gimmicky? Sure. Harmless? Yep. Will the Yankees allow players to put a nickname on their back of their jersey? I mean, this was negotiated by MLB and MLBPA. I don’t think teams will be able to refuse it. Imagine Michael Pineda on the mound with a BIG MIKE jersey, or Gary Sanchez with KRAKEN. We might see it! Could be cool. The Yankees will be home to play Robinson Cano and the Mariners that weekend, by the way.

Judge has top selling MLB jersey

Speaking of jerseys, Judge now has the No. 1 selling jersey in baseball, according to Josh Kosman. A few weeks ago MLB announced Kris Bryant had the top selling jersey — followed by a whole lot of Cubs — with Judge nowhere to be found in the top 20. (Sanchez was ninth overall and the best selling AL player.) Judge has since smashed a bunch of dingers and jumped to the top of the jersey sales rankings. Pretty awesome.

Also, Kosman says the Yankees will soon start selling souvenir white wigs with Judge’s name at Yankee Stadium. Between that and The Judge’s Chambers out in right field, the team is marketing the hell out of him. As they should! Judge is everything you could want in a franchise player, right? He’s great on the field and humble off it. He represents the Yankees and MLB well. They should be slapping this guy on every billboard possible.

Aaron Judge is open to participating in the Home Run Derby and MLB should want him there

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

I don’t know about you, but Aaron Judge has very quickly become one of my favorite players on the Yankees. He’s so fun to watch because he’s such an extreme outlier. Baseball players aren’t supposed to be that big, and baseball players who are that big aren’t supposed to be such good athletes and runners. We’ve seen Judge save some runs in right field and beat out infield singles already this season.

And, of course, there are the home runs. They’re why everyone loves Judge. His four home runs have averaged a healthy 399 feet, and according to Statcast, Judge is responsible for five of the 14 hardest hit balls in baseball this season, including two of the top three. The ball just explodes off his bat. Judge has all the power you’d expect from a guy listed at 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds.

Given his early season exploits, folks are already starting to wonder whether Judge will participate in the Home Run Derby this summer. It makes sense, right? Put the big guy capable of hitting long home runs in the event dedicated to big guys hitting long home runs. Randy Miller asked Judge about the Home Run Derby earlier this week. Here’s his response:

“The Home Run Derby is awesome. It’s a fun event to watch and I’d probably do it if they asked me,” said Judge. “No (I’m not worried about screwing up my swing). I’ve been in them before and I just take my normal swing that I do in batting practice and hopefully it would all work out. I’d just go out there and have fun. I wouldn’t change anything. But it would be a fun thing to do.”

Judge’s batting practices are already the stuff of legend. YES has shown clips of Judge hitting balls over the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar in center field and onto the concourse over the last week and a half. I saw him do that with my own eyes before the home opener and was amazed. But it’s normal for him. That’s just something does every day during batting practice. It’s incredible. There’s no doubt he’d be a fun Home Run Derby contestant.


Personally, I’m not worried at all about a potential Home Run Derby hangover effect. There have been several studies showing it isn’t real, like this one and this one. Pick eight players at random and inevitably one or two of them will perform worse in the second half than they did in the first. The same is true of guys who participate in the Home Run Derby. It’s just normal baseball being baseball stuff.

Anyway, I’m getting off track here. Judge indicated he’s open to participating in the Home Run Derby this summer and MLB should want him there. For a few reasons too. One, he’s a Yankee! The last Yankee to participate in the Home Run Derby was Robinson Cano in 2013. The Yankees are the most popular team in the sport and one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Put a Yankee in a Home Run Derby and he will attract viewers. No doubt about it.

Two, Judge is an exciting young up-and-coming player. MLB is trying like crazy to cultivate young fans and the single best way to attract new young fans is by showcasing your most exciting players. Judge is a freak and I mean that in the nicest way possible. Put him in the Home Run Derby and people who don’t know much about baseball are going to see him and not be able to take their eyes off him. Everything about him demands your attention.

(That’s also a reason for the Yankees to want Judge in the Home Run Derby. As MLB works to cultivate more young fans, the Yankees want as many of them as possible rooting for their team. Judge mashing dingers in the Home Run Derby would be a great “hey come root for the Yankees” sales pitch.)

And three, the power. At the end of the day, the Home Run Derby is a “hit ball far” competition with some bells and whistles. In a batting practice setting, which is essentially what the Home Run Derby is, few offer as much power as Judge. He’s going to hit the ball a mile and that’s what people want to see. MLB has brought non-All-Stars to the Home Run Derby in recent years just to ensure they showcase their top power hitters. (Giancarlo Stanton won the Home Run Derby last year but was not an All-Star. Todd Frazier also participated in the event as a non-All-Star.)

Judge has some Home Run Derby experience — he won the 2012 College Home Run Derby while at Fresno State — and while doing it at the MLB level is a heck of a lot different than doing it at the college level, he has some sort of Home Run Derby experience. It won’t be completely new to him. MLB (and the Yankees) have a lot to gain by putting Judge in their Home Run Derby and it is absolutely something they should consider when the time comes. An event like this is made for guys like him.

2016 Home Run Derby Open Thread

The 2016 All-Star festivities started last night with the Futures Game, though I’m not sure anyone noticed. MLB really needs to do a better job marketing that thing. Making it compete with regular season games is a good way to make sure no one watches.

Anyway, the All-Star break continues tonight with the Home Run Derby in Petco Park, where the Yankees just played last weekend. There are no Yankees in the Home Run Derby this year, but there is a former Yankee: Robinson Cano. Robbie returns to the event this year after representing the Yankees from 2011-13. He won it in 2011, as I’m sure you remember.

This is year two of the Home Run Derby’s fun new format. Instead of counting down outs, each player gets five minutes to hit as many homers as possible. The race against the clock is a blast. Also, players are now seeded head-to-head in the bracket style tournament. Here are this year’s matchups:

Mark Trumbo, Orioles vs. Corey Seager, Dodgers
Todd Frazier, White Sox vs. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
Adam Duvall, Reds vs. Wil Myers, Padres
Robinson Cano, Mariners vs. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins

That Cano vs. Stanton matchup looks fun as hell. I’m pretty sure I picked Myers to win on CBS somewhere, but I’m going with Cano now. No real reason, just a hunch. I’m never right with these things anyway.

The Home Run Derby starts at 8pm ET tonight and will be broadcast on ESPN. Talk about that or whatever else is on your mind right here. Have at it.