Aaron Judge: High Risk, High Reward [Opinion]

There’s no doubt about it, Aaron Judge has played a dynamic role for the New York Yankees this year. The rookie phenom is maintaining a batting average of .291 along with 80 RBIs and 37 home runs. There is one area where his game is lacking.

Last night, Judge hit a homer that would have made even the great Babe Ruth stare in awe. The solo shot came in the top of the fourth inning to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead over their in-city rivals, the New York Mets. Judge, who had been fighting through a hitter’s slump, knew it was gone as soon as it left the bat.

“When you hit it, and you kind of know you got one, it’s just ‘Run the bases,'” Judge said to the New York Post. “They all feel the same. Usually when you get it on the sweet spot on the bat, you don’t feel it.”

It’s no surprise that Judge knew the ball was gone immediately, as the ball traveled a whopping 457 feet. No, you didn’t misread: 457 feet. A lucky fan in the nosebleeds of Citi Field got to keep that ball as a souvenir. A lucky fan seated in the third deck, to be exact.

“Never seen a ball go up there,” Chase Headley said. “If that ball only went 450, then no ball is ever going 500 feet because that ball was crushed.”

With that homer, Judge tied with Albert Pujols for the third most home runs in a rookie season. That leaves him 12 behind Mark McGwire for the record. If history repeats itself, Judge will be a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year.

Here’s a look at Judge’s monster home run:

Unfortunately, Judge’s memorable night wasn’t all filled with success. The tall right fielder approached the plate in the top of the ninth with absolutely no pressure on himself. At least that’s how it seemed. Didi Gregorius hit a two-run double two innings prior to give the Yankees the 5-3 lead. Moments later, Judge found himself with a full count. That’s when baseball’s hottest newcomer struck out swinging. According to ESPN, this strikeout set a single season record for most strikeouts by a non-pitcher.

While it seems to be a Jekyll and Hyde approach, the Yankees seem to be just fine with the way Judge is performing. After all, how can you complain when your organization is not even three-fourths of the way through the season, and you’re seeing these kinds of numbers? You’ve gotten 37 home runs and 80 RBIs out of a guy that you’re paying a smidge over half a million dollars a year. They can’t ask him to do any more than he already is. The strikeouts may keep coming, but so will the home runs.

[Featured Image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]