Aaron Judge wins 2017 Home Run Derby in Miami


Sporting News

Judge smiles with his trophy.

Aine Pierre, News/Features Editor

If John Sterling, radio broadcaster for the New York Yankees, was calling the 2017 Home Run Derby at Marlins Park Monday night, his voice might never have survived. The Yankees’ rookie sensation, Aaron Judge, at 25-years old; six feet, seven inches high; and 280 pounds strong, crushed 47 home runs en route to becoming the champion of what was arguably the most entertaining home run derby since Josh Hamilton’s rampage at the old Yankees Stadium back in 2008.

“[I am] just trying to have fun,” said Judge of the competition after his victory in the final, championship round. Judge hit four home runs over 500 feet, not including a first-round moonshot which bounced off the roof of Marlins Park that the umpires ruled was not, in fact, a home run.

The rules of the home run derby have changed considerably in the last few years. The idea of a timer-based competition originated in 2015, replacing the original ‘outs’ system (anything that is not a home run is an out), and this year marked the beginning of 30 seconds bonus time being awarded to any player that could hit two or more home runs over 430 feet.

The annual event is usually held the night before the Major League Baseball’s highly anticipated All Star Game between baseball giants from the American League and National League and showcases the power of some of the MLB’s biggest homer hitters, at the expense of a few baseballs, of course. Players don their National or American League uniforms, which they do not wear while playing in the All Star Game itself (they wear their regular team uniforms).

In the first matchup of the first round, Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins defeated Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals by a narrow margin of 11-10, the difference being Sano earning the 30-second bonus and Moustakas failing to do so. The second matchup was an upset 17-16 victory by the Yankees’ Gary Sanchez over the darling of the hometown Miami Marlins and defending derby champion, Giancarlo Stanton. The third matchup featured Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies falling short of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ own rookie sensation, Cody Bellinger. In the fourth and final bout, Justin Bour of the hometown Marlins threw down the gauntlet, hitting 22 dingers, but Aaron Judge, with 17 seconds to spare in bonus time, overtook him.

The semi finals featured a much awaited matchup between Judge and Bellinger. Bellinger hit a respectable dozen home runs off of his father, Clay Bellinger, a former Yankees player, but Judge surpassed him at the dead end of his four minutes, advancing to the finals. The other matchup, Sanchez vs Sano, ended in Sano edging Sanchez out 11-10 with 43 seconds of his four minutes to spare.

The case was decided in the final round, with Judge surpassing Sano’s 10 home runs in just under half of his four minutes.

For Judge, this is a jewel in the crown of a very impressive year: Judge has an MLB leading 30 home runs heading into the All Star break and now holds the record for most home runs in a single season by a Yankees rookie, the previous holder was Hall-of-Famer Joe DiMaggio. Judge will start in right field for the American League in the All Star Game.

Next year’s Home Run Derby will be held at hitter-friendly Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.