Aaron James Judge (born April 26, 1992) is an American professional baseball outfielder for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB). Judge played college baseball at Fresno State, and was drafted by the Yankees in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft. He made his MLB debut in 2016. Judge was named an All-Star in 2017 and won the Home Run Derby. He broke the Yankees’ record for home runs by a rookie (besting Joe DiMaggio’s 29 with 30 before the All-Star break) and won the American League‘s Rookie of the Month Awards for April, May and June 2017, as well as the American League’s Player of the Month Award in June 2017.
Judge was born and raised in Linden, California and was adopted the day after he was born by Patty and Wayne Judge, who both worked as teachers. When he was 10 years old, his parents told him that he was adopted; he recalls, “I knew I didn’t look like them.” He telephones his parents every day. He has an older brother, John, who was also adopted.
Judge attended Linden High School, where he was a three-sport star. He played as a pitcher (9-3, 0.65 ERA, 65K) andfirst baseman (.500 AVG, 7 HR, 32 RBI) for the baseball team, a wide receiver (54 REC, 969 YDS, 17 TD) for thefootball team, and an “all-state” center (18.2 PTS, 12.8 REBS) for the basketball team.
He set a school record for touchdowns (17) in football and led the team in points per game (18.2) in basketball. In baseball, he was part of the Linden High School team that made the California Interscholastic Federation Division III playoffs.
tight end in football, including Notre Dame, Stanford, and UCLA, but he preferred baseball. The Oakland Athletics selected him in the 31st round of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft, but he opted to enroll at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State), to play for the Fresno State Bulldogs baseball team in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Louisville Slugger named him a Freshman All-American. He won the 2012 TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby. In his junior year, Judge led the Bulldogs in home runs, doubles, and runs batted in (RBIs). Judge was named to the all-conference team in all three of his seasons for the Bulldogs—in the WAC in his first two seasons, and the Mountain West Conference (MW) as a junior (the Bulldogs joined the MW in July 2012, between his sophomore and junior seasons).Various colleges recruited Judge to play
The Yankees drafted Judge in the first round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft with the 32nd overall selection. Judge signed with the Yankees, receiving a $1.8 million signing bonus. He tore a quadriceps femoris muscle while participating in a base running drill, which kept him out of the 2013 season. He made his professional debut with the Charleston RiverDogs of the Class A South Atlantic League in 2014. He had a .333 batting average, .428 on-base percentage (OBP), .530 slugging percentage (SLG), and hit nine home runs with 45 RBIs in 65 games for Charleston. The Yankees promoted him to the Tampa Yankees of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League during the season, where he hit .283 with a .411 OBP, .442 SLG, eight home runs, and 33 RBIs in 66 games for Tampa.
Judge during Yankees’ spring training in 2015
spring training as a non-roster player in 2015. Judge began the 2015 season with the Trenton Thunder of the Class AA Eastern League. After Judge batted .284 with a .350 OBP and 12 home runs in 63 games for Trenton, the Yankees promoted Judge to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the Class AAA International League in June. He was chosen to represent the Yankees at the 2015 All-Star Futures Game. The Yankees decided not to include Judge in their September call-ups. Judge batted .224 with eight home runs in 61 games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yankees invited Judge to spring training in 2016, and he began the season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Judge was named to the International League All-Star Team in 2016, but did not play in the 2016 Triple-A All-Star Game after he spent on a month of the disabled list due to a knee sprain. In 93 games for the RailRiders, Judge had a .270 batting average, 19 home runs, and 65 RBIs.The Yankees invited Judge to
Judge made his MLB debut on August 13, 2016, starting in right field against the Tampa Bay Rays. In his first at-bat, Judge hit a home run off Matt Andriese; the previous batter, Tyler Austin, also making his MLB debut, had done the same. This marked the first time that two teammates had hit home runs in their first career at bats in the same game. Judge also hit a home run in his second MLB game. With this feat, Judge became the second player in Yankees history to hit a home run in each of his first two games. Joe Lefebvre was the first Yankee to do so in 1980. Judge’s debut season, in which he batted .179 and struck out 42 times in 84 at-bats (95 plate appearances), ended prematurely when he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a grade 2 right oblique strain on September 13, 2016 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite having fewer than 100 plate appearances, Judge struck out more often (44.2% of his plate appearances) than any other position player with at least 50 plate appearances.
The Yankees named Judge their right fielder for Opening Day against the Tampa Bay Rays. On April 16, he hit a home run against the St. Louis Cardinals that was incorrectly ruled a triple due to fan interference. He had his first multi-home run game on April 28 against Baltimore Orioles to help the Yankees win 14-11, coming back from a 9-1 deficit. One of the home runs had a measured exit velocity of 119.4 miles per hour (192.2 km/h), the fastest exit velocity for a home run measured by Statcast since it was adopted in 2015. Judge ended the month of April with 10 home runs, tying the rookie record set by José Abreu and Trevor Story. He was named the American League‘s Rookie of the Month for April. In April, he had a .303 batting average, 10 home runs, 20 RBIs, and a .411 OBP in 22 games. On May 3, Judge hit his 13th home run of the season, becoming the youngest player to hit 13 home runs within the first 26 games of a season. The Yankees debuted a cheering section in the right-field seats of Yankee Stadium on May 22, called “The Judge’s Chambers”, three rows in section 104, containing 18 seats. Fans are chosen by the team to sit there, and are outfitted with black robes, wigs, and foam gavels. In a game against the Oakland Athletics on May 28, Judge hit his first career grand slam. Judge was named American League Rookie of the Month once again for May. In May, he had a .347 batting average, seven home runs, 17 RBIs, and a .441 OBP in 26 games.
On June 10, Judge hit a home run that had an exit velocity of 121.1 miles per hour (194.9 km/h), again setting a new record for the hardest ever measured by Statcast. The following day, Judge went 4-for-4 with two home runs, one of which traveled 495 feet (151 m), which was the longest in MLB in the 2017 season. On June 12, Judge was named the American League Player of the Week. His week ended with him leading the AL in all three Triple Crown categories. Judge was named the American League Player of the Month for the month of June, batting .324 with 10 home runs, 25 RBIs and a .481 OBP. His performance in the month of June also earned him his third consecutive American League Rookie of the Month award, the longest streak since Mike Trout won four in a row in 2012. Judge had a 32-game on-base streak, including reaching base in every game in the month of June. On July 2, Judge was voted as a starting outfielder to the 2017 MLB All-Star Game, receiving 4,488,702 votes, the most out of any player in the American League.
Judge tied Joe DiMaggio‘s record for most home runs hit in a Yankees’ rookie season with his 29th on July 5. He broke the record on July 7 by hitting his 30th of the season against Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers. He became the second rookie to hit 30 home runs before the All-Star break after Mark McGwire in 1987, the first Yankee to do so since Alex Rodriguez in 2007 and the first player in baseball since Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera in 2013. Judge won the 2017 Home Run Derby, besting Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano 11-10 in the final round to take home the title, becoming the first rookie to ever win the Derby outright. Judge hit four home runs over 500 feet, one of which travelled 513 feet, the farthest in the Derby. After his performance, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred stated that Judge is a player “who can become the face of the game.” Judge has worn the unusual uniform number of 99 since it was given to him during 2016 spring training (higher numbers are often given to young players who are not expected to make the regular-season team). Judge has stated he would prefer either No. 44 (retired by the Yankees to honor Reggie Jackson) or No. 35 (worn by Michael Pineda since 2014), but is not sure whether he would switch if the latter two were to become available.
Judge is listed at 6 feet 7 inches (2.01 m) and 282 pounds (128 kg). Due to his large size and strength, he has elicited comparisons to Giancarlo Stanton, Richie Sexson, Dave Winfield, and Willie Stargell.
Judge is a Christian and has posted about his faith on his Twitter account. He keeps a note on his phone that reads “.179”, his batting average with the Yankees in 2016, and looks at it daily as a source of motivation. Judge appeared on the cover of the May 15, 2017 edition of Sports Illustrated. On May 15, 2017, he appeared on an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon where he posed undercover to ask Yankee fans questions about himself. Judge has earned praise for his humble personality and willingness to be a team player.