Baseball leaders & Jesus followers
As a hot prospect climbing the ranks within the New York Yankees farm system in 2015, Aaron Judge was being compared to baseball legends. One such icon himself, Reggie Jackson, told reporters gathered for the Yankees’ spring training in Sarasota, Fla., that the 6-foot-7 outfielder boasted characteristics of Hank Aaron, Willie Stargell and Dave Winfield, among others. A modern-day name that popped up that day was Giancarlo Stanton, then a 6-foot-6 outfielder for the Marlins.
Three years later, Judge is beginning to live up to those comparisons. He made his major league debut late in the 2016 season, and last year turned in a rookie campaign for the ages — All-Star, Home Run Derby winner, American League home run leader (52), AL Rookie of the Year, second in AL MVP voting. And then this offseason, New York went out and traded for that modern-day star Judge was being compared to: Stanton — four-time All-Star, last year’s National League home run (59) and RBI (132) leader, last year’s NL MVP.
— Aaron Judge (@TheJudge44) December 9, 2017
The Yankees were already going to be contenders in 2018 after taking Houston to seven games in last season’s ALCS. But now they have another big bat in a lineup that will easily live up to the famed “Bronx Bombers” moniker long associated with the club. New York could challenge the MLB record of 264 home runs hit by a team in a season, set by Seattle in 1997; the Yanks bombed 241 in 2017.
Leading the barrage will be the 25-year-old Judge, who was also ranked as MLB’s favorite player last year in an ESPN poll. He’s a favorite among his peers, too. Prior to the ALCS last fall, Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros told the media, “If I was a GM, I want him on my team because he plays the right way and he’s very humble.”
“He did everything to win the MVP in the regular season,” added Altuve, who went on to take the award ahead of Judge. “But what I like the most about him is how humble he is.”
That sentiment is shared by many around the league. And Judge is not shy about showing where that unpretentious attitude stems from. His Twitter profile reads, “Christian. Faith, Family, then Baseball,” under an image displaying 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Upon crossing home plate after smashing his 52 home runs last year, Judge would point to the sky. Following the game in which he hit No. 50, thus breaking the rookie record for homers in a season, he was asked who he was thinking of when he pointed upward.
“The Lord,” Judge told the assembled media. “He put me in this position, blessed me with so many opportunities in my life. I just try to take a quick moment just to kind of thank Him. I just got a chance to hit a home run at Yankee Stadium. That’s something not too many people can say they’ve done. It’s a blessing every time I step on that field and get that opportunity.”
As he embarks on his sophomore season, Judge is living out Matthew 23:12:
“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
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