I want to talk to you about Aaron Judge. By now, kids, you have probably started hearing things about Judge. The New Bronx Bomber. The Next Great Yankee. New York’s Savior. This all seemed like a lot of speculation until last night, when Judge silenced any remaining critics by winning the Home Run Derby. But Judge didn’t just win, he destroyed his competition by smacking 47 home runs in spectacular fashion, including four that traveled more than 500 feet. He made it clear that he is going to be around for a while and might just bring some much-needed fun back to America’s pastime. Pretty cool, huh?
So who is exactly this guy? The 25-year-old right fielder was drafted out of college by the Yankees in 2013 and spent a couple seasons in the minors before getting his shot at the big leagues late last season. For most of the season, he was pretty awful. He batted a measly .179, striking out in half of his 84 at-bats. But instead of letting his struggles discourage him, he used his mistakes as a chance to learn and make himself a better player. He studied his errors, learned what he was doing wrong, and improved little by little.
Less than a year later, Judge has become one of the most exciting stories in baseball. He is leading the league with 30 home runs and has the third highest batting average (.329) in the American League. As this is technically his rookie season (baseball is weird that way), he has already been named AL Rookie of the Month in April, May, and June. And he’s already hit more home runs his rookie season than any other Yankee in history, passing Joe DiMaggio’s record of 29 with relative ease. He is 6’7″, 288 pounds, and equipped with one of the strongest swings baseball has seen in years. Simply put, this guy seems destined for greatness.
But before you get to thinking he is one of those guys who was just born gifted, heading towards his inevitable path to glory and fame that the rest of us can only dream of, remember that .179. Judge certainly does. He keeps the number on his phone, looking at it every day to remind himself that success is never guaranteed. You have to work for it. And that’s why Judge is a guy worth rooting for. He gets knocked down, but he gets up again. That’s something from which we can all learn.