The much-anticipated debut of New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge to the MLB Home Run Derby was nothing short of amazing.
Judge dominated the competition and made it look easy at times en route to being crowned the 2017 derby champion. He defeated Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins to win the derby and left fans in attendance and at home with their jaws collectively on the floor with some of the absolute bombs that he hit.
In Judge’s first appearance at the plate in the first round, he hammered an incredible 23 home runs, the most of all eight competitors, to advance to the semifinal of the competition.
What’s more incredible is the task he was faced with. He had to hit at least 22 homers to tie the Miami Marlins’ Justin Bour in the round, and he wasted no time getting to work. On one of his hits — which would have been a homer — he hit the roof at Marlins Park as the ball was well on its way over the wall. Unfortunately, the roof is considered in play and therefore wasn’t ruled a homer.
But Judge shook it off and got right back into the batter’s box and put a stamp on his outing. Take a look below to see his spray chart from the competition.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Judge just set a new Yankees record for most homers by a rookie — on July 7. He passed Joe DiMaggio’s record with his 30th long ball of the season.
Judge was seeded No. 2 entering the derby and some saw him as a clear favorite along with defending champion Giancarlo Stanton. But Stanton under-performed in his home stadium and was eliminated in the very first round by the underdog Sano. But it was Judge who provided the fireworks in the competition, and then some.
Judge advanced out of the first round to face fellow rookie Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the semifinals. Bellinger was clearly tired in the round, hitting 12 homers. He joined the ESPN broadcast team during Judge’s at-bats and said he thought his chances of advancing to the final were “negative 12.”
Judge saved more than enough energy for the semifinal round, where had hammered a 513-foot homer. A few pitches later, he knocked another one that measured 507 feet to officially defeat Bellinger by a score of 13-12 and advanced to take on Sano in the finals.
In the finals, Sano was clearly tired, too, hitting just 10 homers. That was no match for Judge, who will be the clear favorite in next year’s derby. He needed just two minutes to hit 11 home runs in the final to win the whole thing.
Watch below for the highlights from Judge’s incredible inaugural derby performance.