By Mike McCormick
MIAMI -- Even though Aaron Judge's performance in Monday's T-Mobile Home Run Derby could rank up there among the best showings of any slugger of any age, it shouldn't go unmentioned that he did all this -- including coming in as the odds-on favorite everywhere outside of Miami -- as a rookie.
Just minutes after home team hero and defending Derby champ Giancarlo Stanton was bounced in the first round by Judge's Yankees teammate Gary Sanchez (17 homers to 16), Judge watched as the Marlins' Justin Bour pulverized 22 long balls, screaming and even devouring doughnuts between swings.
But Judge kept his cool, launched 23 of his own to knock out Bour, then took down fellow rookie sensation Cody Bellinger, 13-12, in the second frame to set up his final round, 11-10 victory over Miguel Sano in a thrilling Home Run Derby.
"Adrenaline was pumping a little bit," Judge said. "But I tried to use the whole field and just square up every ball I could. Since there was a clock, you can't really take pitches and pick one out. If it was away, I tried to drive it to right. If it was in the middle, I tried to hit the glass out there [in deep left field]."
Overall, Judge rocketed 47 homers in Marlins Park on Monday to become the first rookie to take home the hardware in this event. As a rookie, Wally Joyner tied Darryl Strawberry in 1986, but they each totaled only four home runs in just a one-round format.
Judge's majestic blasts included 22 that travelled 440 feet or more, and four of the superhuman variety that flew more than 500 feet, capped by a 513-foot blast. It should come as no surprise when All-Star Week ends and we hear that Judge -- this rookie -- leads all players in All-Star jersey sales.
In the year of the Young Man's Takeover in MLB, Judge and Bellinger became the ninth and 10th rookies to compete on the Home Run Derby stage, and just the third pair of rookies in the same contest. They rose to the occasion in Miami, immediately etching their names onto our (Dodgers-heavy) list of the Top 5 rookie Home Run Derby performances of all time:
5. (Tie) Kris Bryant, Cubs, 2015
Lost in Round 1 to Albert Pujols, 10-9
5. (Tie) Corey Seager, Dodgers, 2016
Lost in Round 1 to Mark Trumbo, 16-15
4. Cody Bellinger, Dodgers, 2017
Lost in Round 2 to Aaron Judge, 13-12
3. Joc Pederson, Dodgers, 2015
Lost in Finals to Todd Frazier, 15-14
2. Wally Joyner, Angels, 1986
Tied for lead with Darryl Strawberry with 4 home runs
1. Aaron Judge, Yankees, 2017
Won Finals over Miguel Sano, 11-10
Mike McCormick is contributor to Sports on Earth and an editorial director for MLB.com.