Fifty-two home runs. 127 walks. Home Run Derby champion. No rookie had ever done that until Aaron Judge took Major League Baseball by force.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America named Judge the unanimous winner of the 2017 AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year award today in New York. The 25-year-old beat out Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi and Orioles 1B/OF Trey Mancini for the title.
“It means everything. It’s quite an honor,” Judge said. “It’s an honor and a privilege. I’m just one piece in an organization. The impact my teammates, family and friends have had on me this year have been huge. I can’t thank them enough.”
Judge also won a Silver Slugger for his offensive output, and was a finalist for a Gold Glove in right field. He is a finalist for the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award alongside Astros 2B José Altuve and Indians INF José Ramírez.
Before breaking out in 2017, Judge struggled in a late-season audition for a starting outfield job in 2016. He struck out in 44.2 percent of his plate appearances, and finished the season on the disabled list with a grade 2 right oblique strain. He came into camp as the team’s No. 4 prospect, and in a competition with Aaron Hicks for the starting job in right field.
Judge won the job, and the rest is history. He slashed .284/.422/.627, and led the American League with the aforementioned 52 home runs. Despite leading all of the MLB with 208 strikeouts, Judge managed to lead the AL in walks with 127. His 10.4 AB/HR led the AL.
The last Yankee to win the Rookie of the Year award was Derek Jeter in 1996.