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Judge steals the show in the Home Run Derby

By: Cory Hughes

Aaron Judge was the big favorite going into the Home Run Derby and smashed his competition and long balls on his way to a title.

Aaron Judge stole the show in the 2017 Homerun Derby, which seems to follow the theme of this entire season. Weeks before the Derby fans were not talking about Giancarlo Stanton returning to defend his crown in his own home at Marlins Park. The chatter was about whether or not Judge threw his name in the competition yet. When he finally did, there was great excitement from both diehard and casual baseball fans wanting to see this huge, power hitter in a competition only about hitting the ball as far as possible.

In the first round, Judge was matched up against Marlins first baseman Justin Bour. After Bour had smashed out 22 home runs to start the head-to-head against Judge, there was worry that it might be too much for the rookie. He had his work cut out for him, and it was only the very beginning of the competition. But he wowed everyone by hitting 23 home runs, including one over 500 feet and one shot that wasn’t even counted because it hit the roof of the stadium.

While Judges’ Yankees teammate Gary Sanchez crushed everyone’s dreams of a finals matchup against Stanton, his efforts in the first round made it clear that it was going to be his night. Judge cruised in the second round past Cody Bellinger, who hit 12 home runs in the semifinals after an exhausting first round win. Against anyone else, 12 probably would have given him a chance to win, but not against the 6-foot-7 powerhouse, and he knew it. While at the commentary table during Judge’s turn, Bellinger said his chances of advancing were negative 12, also adding that he couldn’t feel his arms with a minute left on the clock. With just over a minute left to spare in the semifinals, Judge hit 13 home runs, with the winning shot being a 500 footer, sending him to the finals to compete for the crown.

In the finals, Judge was matched up against the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Minnesota Twins first baseman Miguel Sano, who upset Sanchez in the semifinals. Sano was up first and hit 10 home runs. After seeing Judge’s first two round performances, it was clear that was an easy total for him to surpass. And easy it was. Just hit 11 home runs, two of them being over 500 feet, with two minutes left on the clock. He wrapped up an incredible performance, hitting 46 home runs. That is the second most by a performer in a Derby behind only Stanton last year, but Judge left over three minutes on the clock and some bonus time. What he did was remarkable, but incredibly, it was expected.

Judge had caused quite a stir this season. The 25-year-old rookie has racked up 30 home runs and broke Joe DiMaggio’s Yankees rookie record for homers in only 80 games. With an entire second half of the season left to play, what is his ceiling? Judge very well may hit 60 home runs this year at only 25-years-old. At the very least, he seems like he’ll challenge for Mark McGwire’s overall rookie home run record of 49. As he gets older and stronger and further into his prime, the sky seems to be the limit for him, which is just what the Yankees could have hoped for.

Since Derek Jeter retired in 2014, the Yankees have not had a signature face to their franchise like they have had so many times in their historic past. It’s safe to say they’ve found the face of their franchise for years to come, but he could be more than just the face of the Yankees. Judge might just turn into the face of baseball. This epic performance in the home run derby was just his showcase to the masses.

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Cory Hughes

Growing up in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, Cory grew up with a love of football. But believe it or not, it did not start because of Tom Brady or Bill Belichick. It started with guys like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs. He's probably the only person in the New England area that doesn't have a Tom Brady jersey in his closet. As an adolescent Cory played every sport that was available to him. He was the starting Defensive End on his Pop Warner A Team and had with sacks. Cory was also the starting center for his middle school basketball team that won a league championship with an undefeated season. However, after not growing more than two inches in high school, he decided to drop basketball and pick up wrestling. His sophomore year while wrestling, MMA started to grow and the big fight everybody was talking about was Quentin 'Rampage' Jackson vs. Chuck Liddell. Watching Jackson's slams, he was hooked to MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Not long after he started training in that as well. In just over two years he got his blue belt in martial arts. So it's a great mix of sports that he loves and that eventually sparked his interest in sports journalism.

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