PROLOOK Athlete: Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge. #PROLOOKintheMLB

Aaron Judge was a three-sport star at Linden High School in a small agricultural town two hours east of San Francisco. At an enormous 6’7”, baseball seemed the least likely option for him to pursue.

“Growing up I always thought I’d be a basketball player because I was so tall. When it came to my junior year, I started getting a lot of letters for football. But once … I started going to a lot of baseball camps I knew this is what I’m going to go with.”

Despite football offers from major universities like Stanford, Notre Dame, and UCLA and a senior season in which he set school records for receiving yards and touchdowns in a season, and despite his 6’7” frame that led him to be a dominant center that averaged over 18 points per game, Judge was set on baseball.

He turned down football offers and a draft selection by the Oakland Athletics to take a partial baseball scholarship at Fresno State, where he became a star. He was named a freshman All-American and All-WAC player his first year with the team and won the 2012 college home run derby in his sophomore year. As a junior, he led the Bulldogs in home runs, doubles, and runs batted in and earned his third all-conference selection.

Following his junior year, Judge was selected 32nd overall by the New York Yankees in the 2013 MLB Draft. He spent three seasons in the minor leagues, where he consistently finished top five in batting average, on-base percentage, home runs, and runs batted in. In 2016, he made his MLB debut, hitting a home run in his first at-bat. His season ended prematurely after he suffered an oblique strain.

In 2017, Judge went on a tear. The massive 282-pound outfielder broke the rookie record for home runs with 52 and quickly got a reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the MLB as he hit the longest home run ever in Yankee Stadium history with a 496-foot bomb and consistently had some of the hardest recorded hits in MLB history. He finished the year with various awards, including the American League Rookie of the Year, a Silver Slugger Award, and a second-place finish in 2017 American League MVP voting.

Over the next two seasons, Judge continued to cement himself as a great hitter, hitting 54 home runs across the 2018 and 2019 seasons before having a down year of just nine home runs in 2020 due to an injury-shortened season. He grew his reputation as a great right fielder in 2019, winning the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award. He had perhaps his best all-around year in 2021, returning to form with 39 home runs while having his best batting average of his MLB tenure. He finished the year with his third All-Star selection and won a Fielding Bible Award for his outstanding outfield work, a Silver Slugger Award for his incredible hitting, and earned his first All-MLB First Team selection.

#BuiltBetter #LiveYourGame #PROLOOK

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