MIAMI -- Aaron Judge is the face of Major League Baseball.
You waiting for a qualifier, a proceed with caution tagged on that statement?
One isn't coming.
Last night's emphatic 2017 MLB Home Run Derby win over Miguel Sano was the solidifier. Not only did Judge live up to the hype, but he blew away the competition and captivated the enthusiastic crowd at Marlins Park with a barrage of moonshots that sailed into the Miami night.
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And this isn't a prisoner of the moment thing. Or just lazy sportswriters crowning a new king prematurely.
Judge, the New York Yankees rookie slugger, has burst onto the MLB scene in historic proportion. He's not having a great rookie season. He's having a great season for anyone who has ever played the game at this level.
Judge, who was voted on the American League All-Star team as a starter by the fans, has 30 homers, 66 RBI and batting .329.
Easily, Judge is in the hunt for the Triple Crown in his first full season.
All MLB-leading 21 home runs from Aaron Judge. Still many more to come. Aaron Judge leads the AL in all the triple crown categories. Yes, I know Judge has hit 2 other home runs. I will be making a part 2 when he hits more.
For many, they have heard about his accomplishments. Without question, Judge has been the buzz of the 2017 season. Still, most probably got to lay their eyes on him for the first time in the HR Derby tonight.
Before the event, Judge was the talk, the main attraction. Even the players wanted to see Judge swing the bat.
Best of all, players in the game would be lying to think anybody else is the face of baseball. It's not Mike Trout. It's not Bryce Harper. It may have been before, but not now.
Even his peers are comfortable to say it out loud. That's amazing for a rookie that has played in just 84 games so far this season.
Enter Chris Archer, the All-Star pitcher from the Tampa Bay Rays. He didn't hesitate or flinch when asked who was the face of baseball.
"At this specific moment, it might be Aaron Judge," Archer said. "This specific moment, right now where we are, halfway through the 2017 season.
"First, he plays in New York. Second, he's a presence, he's 6-6, 260-270. And he's doing what he's doing. So at this particular moment, it's him."
And Archer considered other big-time stars. "I'll say in the past, Trout definitely. Harper definitely. But right now, Aaron Judge."
Archer nailed it. Judge has been, well, bigger than himself. Judge is actually 6-foot-7, 282 pounds.
Judge's first half has to rank among the most impressive for anyone. "It's special what he's doing," Archer added.
Judge broke the Yankees' rookie HR record held by Joe DiMaggio in half a season. DiMaggio hit 29 homers in 637 at-bats in 1936. Judge reached 30 in just 293 at-bats.
It's an incredible feat, one for the ages.
New York Yankees Outfielder, Aaron Judge Highlights from the 2017 MLB Season. The unique, one of a kind slugger has taken the majors by storm as the American League MVP front runner. Aaron is much more than just a Home Run hitter.
"What he's done has been unreal," Yankees All-Star reliever Dellin Betances said. "I've never seen anything like it.
"Obviously, I've played with a lot of guys. But what he's doing I have never seen."
The only rookie in major-league history with more home runs before the All-Star break is Mark McGwire. He hit 33 in the first half for the 1987 Oakland A's. Big Mac holds the rookie HR record with 49 that season.
Archer isn't alone in is acknowledgement.
"He's a great player," Indians' All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley said. "He swings the bat phenomenally well. He's fun on watch on TV. I enjoy watching him. I know a lot of players do too."
The Yankees have said and done a lot to make you believe they have a real one, struck gold with Judge. Back in May, manager Joe Girardi compared Judge with Yankees legend Derek Jeter. It was about how Judge handles himself and treats others with respect.
Also in May, the Yankees set up a section for Judge in the stands for fans. It's called “Judge's Chambers” and inspired some invested fans to show up in judges robes and white wigs. With faux wood paneling to resemble a courtroom's jury box, the Yankees officially marked three rows in section 104 at the Stadium.
"He's doing it on the biggest possible stage," Archer said. "He's a good person. You can just tell that. He's humble. He keeps his nose clean.
"People say this, and he has a lot more to accomplish, but he may be the second coming of Derek Jeter."
Derek Jeter and Aaron Judge on their comparisons. Subscribe for daily sports videos! Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/10FUHE2 Like on Facebook: http://facebook.com/YESNetwork Follow on Twitter: http://bit.ly/1dtTy7q Follow on Instagram: http://bit.ly/PGQWNm
Don't cringe. Embrace it.
The mere idea that people are talking about Judge in that vein is the reason he, indeed, is the face of baseball right now.