Aaron Judge, a home run robbery, and 'one of the great individual ...
SEATTLE — Hanging in the corner of the visiting team’s manager’s office, a TV airing MLB Network showed highlights of the Yankees’ 10-4 win over the Mariners. Before speaking with reporters, Aaron Boone sat in his chair with his jaw open as he watched the TV in amazement. On the screen was reigning American League MVP Aaron Judge robbing Teoscar Hernández of a home run in the eighth inning.
Judge traveled 74 feet to the right field wall, leaped, and brought back Hernández’s home run that would have been gone in 12 ballparks, including T-Mobile Park, according to Statcast. Judge’s entire forearm was outstretched over the wall, as he left Hernández standing on second base confused and wondering how he didn’t just hit a two-run home run.
Jumpman, jumpman, jumpman. @TheJudge44 is up to something. pic.twitter.com/94NtXNZXGd
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 30, 2023
Yankees pitcher Clarke Schmidt watched the play from the dugout and everyone had their jaws as wide as they could open as they shook their heads trying to figure out how Judge actually made such a play.
“I told him he’s leveled up,” Schmidt said. “He’s on to the next level. He’s mastered the major-league level. Every night, he seems to amaze us. He had three homers tonight, I say. He hit two and then robbed one. It’s just crazy impressive what he does every night.
“He’s made some crazy athletic catches where he’s been on the run but as far as robberies go, that one is definitely No. 1 for me.”
Luis Severino, who has been Judge’s Yankees teammate the longest, wasn’t surprised with Judge’s home run robbery because, as he said with a smile on his face, “I’ve seen him make way better plays.” But that’s the kind of special talent Judge is.
Boone said his son, Brandon, texted him after the game and said it may have been “the greatest catch he’s ever seen.” Boone didn’t go that far with his description of the play but did think it was the best home-run robbery he’s seen from Judge because he wasn’t camping underneath the ball. He ran to his spot and then timed his jump perfectly in one continuous motion. Not only did Judge make one of the best catches in MLB this season but he also hit two home runs, doubled and walked.
“It’s one of the great individual games you’ll see,” Boone said.
“He’s just such a special player obviously. He can just do things that no one else can and it’s just fun watching him do it every day.”
Judge’s two homers now give him 17 on the season, which leads the American League. A reminder: Judge has missed 20 percent of the regular season because of a hip injury. To make up for lost time, Judge has now hit 11 home runs in the past 15 games.
But hitting home runs has come to be expected by Judge, who set the American League record last season by hitting 62. Making spectacular catches like this one aren’t the norm for him. Domingo Germán, who returned from a 10-game suspension on Monday after getting ejected for illegal use of foreign substances, said he was in the training room getting treatment after his start and said everyone in there stopped what they were doing and jumped around in excitement.
— Teoscar Hernandez (@TeoscarH) May 30, 2023
Judge has won every major offensive award a position player can win except a Gold Glove. In spring training, Judge mentioned it’s been one of his goals to be named one of the game’s best defenders. Advanced fielding metrics are split on Judge’s defense. Defensive runs saved has Judge at minus-4 whereas Outs Above Average ranks him at plus-1. Boone said he believes Judge is worthy of the award.
“There’s no question he’s Gold Glove-caliber,” Boone said. “There’s been some years where ’18 and ’19, he missed a lot of time out there. Last year, he played a lot of center. So those kinds of things maybe cost him one or two here and there. But I think everyone in the sport knows how special he is on the defensive side, too.”
Yankees center fielder Greg Allen, who replaced Harrison Bader earlier in the game after Bader left with right hamstring tightness, had an up-close view of Judge’s catch. Allen sprinted over to right field to make sure he could back Judge up if the ball kicked off the wall. That wasn’t necessary.
“Obviously because of his size and stature, there’s probably not many guys in the league that can get to a ball like that to be able to get up there,” Allen said. “His athleticism combined with that, there probably are very few who can make the play.”
There was a similar moment earlier in the game when Judge hit his second home run. At the wall, Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic jumped and Judge’s ball barely missed his glove. Cameras caught Kelenic muttering to himself, “I thought I f—ing had that. Damn it.”
YES Network said it was the fourth time in Judge’s career that he’s robbed a home run and hit one in the same game. That’s the most in MLB since 2004. Judge said off the bat, he thought Hernández’s long fly was gone because, “I’ve seen Teoscar hit a lot of balls over my head in right field before.” As he drifted towards the wall, Judge took a second glance and knew he had an opportunity to bring it back into play. He didn’t miss his chance.
And in typical Judge fashion, he significantly downplayed the moment that only a few on this planet can execute as well as he did.
“Just another catch,” Judge said. “I’m just trying to do my job. When you’re 6-7, I better be able to get up there and get it.”
(Photo: Alika Jenner / Getty Images)