Aaron Judge the big, beefy slugger is a well-known commodity throughout baseball. The man can hit home runs off anyone, and that’s what brings the paychecks home. But it should not be forgotten that No. 99 is complete ballplayer. He flirted with the Triple Crown last season, expertly picks his spots in stealing bases (16-for-19 last year), and he’s a Gold Glove-caliber defender to boot. Honestly, the only reason he wasn’t nominated last year was probably because he split time between center and right field due to the team’s needs.
Judge’s defense was on display against the Angels on May 31st of last season when defending AL MVP Shohei Ohtani launched one to center that seemed like it might go out. The eventual 2022 AL MVP had other plans:
Judge’s impressive 6-foot-7 frame obviously helps him out in these robberies, but it’s one thing to be tall. It’s another matter entirely to have both the athleticism to make the jump and the timing to snatch the ball out of the air just as it’s coming down.
The Angels are back in the Bronx this week for the first time in 2023, and Ohtani made his presence felt last night in the opener by homering off Yankees starter Clarke Schmidt, leading Los Angeles to a 5-2 victory. The strategy worked pretty well last night, so Ohtani decided “Hey, let’s try that again!” shortly after play began on Wednesday.
In the second at-bat of the ballgame, Ohtani clobbered an offering from rookie Jhony Brito. This time, however, it was not a slam-dunk homer, and he hit it to the wrong part of the ballpark: the area patrolled by Judge.
Take it away, Captain:
(You bet your sweet bippy that the pun was intended.)
As if it wasn’t enough to rob Ohtani for the second time in less than a year, Judge did not miss out on his opportunity to go deep. Righty Griffin Canning could not contain the four-time All-Star.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, this marks the third time in Judge’s excellent career that he’s hit a home run and robbed one in the same game. He’s done that more than anyone since ESPN began tracking in 2012. Oh, and in the eighth inning, Judge added to his showcase by making a sensational catch in the right-center-field gap on a ball that could’ve given the Angels the lead.
Baseball is at its best when its greatest talents are on display. The American League’s MVPs have taken over Yankee Stadium the past couple nights, and we can’t wait to see what else they have to offer.