Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge won last year’s Home Run Derby, directly outslugging Justin Bour, Cody Bellinger, and Miguel Sano at Marlins Park, and beating Charlie Blackmon, Mike Moustakas, and current teamamtes Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton in the process.
Judge had a terrific first half of the 2017 season, batting .329/.448/.691 with 30 home runs and 66 RBI in 366 plate appearances. He appeared to slump in the second half. He was still productive, but hit a relatively lower .228/.391/.548 with 22 home runs and 48 RBI in 312 PA.
Last year, I tried to head off the claim that the Home Run Derby would be the cause of any player’s second-half struggles, but it didn’t work. Merely a week after the Derby, columns were being written about Judge’s struggles being attributed to the home run contest. Judge didn’t seem to be convinced, at least then, that the Home Run Derby impacted him negatively, saying, “You’re going to have your ups and downs. You’re going to have your times when you do everything right and you still get out. It’s just part of it. I’m happy with the swing. I’m happy with a lot of the swings I took the last couple of days. But you don’t get any results from it. That’s baseball. That’s the game we play.”
Judge might have had a change of heart. George A. King III of the New York Post reports that Judge said “there is no need” to participate in the 2018 Home Run Derby at Nationals Park. That’s not surprising, as he said on an appearance on teammate CC Sabathia‘s podcast back in March, “I think I’m one and done at the Derby.”
As King notes, when Judge was asked two months ago if the Derby impacted his need for offseason shoulder surgery, he said, “I would rather not say.”
Judge 26, is putting together another great first half. He enters Wednesday’s action batting .281/.412/.556 with 12 home runs and 36 RBI in 211 plate appearances. He’s one of 13 players in baseball with at least 12 home runs at the moment.