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3 Reasons Why Aaron Judge is So Valuable

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The winningest team in Major League Baseball history is off to another hot and impressive start in 2018.

One big reason for the Yankees’ success is 2017 Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, who quickly followed up last year’s 52 home run season by becoming the fastest player in MLB history to reach 60 home runs — in just 197 games played — breaking Mark McGwire’s record of 60 blasts in his first 202 games with the Oakland A’s.

By the end of the first week of May, Judge has already racked up 7 home runs in his first 114 at-bats, as well as 19 RBIs and 2 stolen bases, with a batting average hovering just below .300.

But Judge’s value as a player transcends beyond the diamond and, in particular, makes him valuable for baseball memorabilia collectors as well. Recently, one eBay seller snagged $14,665 for a rare autographed Judge rookie card made by Topps in 2013 shortly after the Yankees slugger was drafted.

Here’s a closer look at what makes Judge so valuable and why it’s a smart investment to collect memorabilia.

1. Consistent Offensive Power

Judge’s most obvious attribute is his offensive power. At 6 foot 7 inches and 282 pounds, Judge is a powerhouse and hulk of a man. To date, his home run prowess already places him in elite company, with analysts believing Judge could one day surpass the likes of Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth.

When Judge hit his 52nd home run last season, he not only tied Mickey Mantle for the eighth-most home runs in a Yankee season, but the feat also marked his 33rd home run at home, breaking a record held by Ruth set in 1921. Judge’s rookie campaign also topped fellow Yankee Joe DiMaggio’s rookie year of 29 homers in 1936 and McGwire’s impressive 49 dingers in 1987. Indeed, when it comes to power, Judge is on track for a Hall of Fame career.

But what makes Judge’s power even more dangerous is his consistency. With a .284 batting average last year — he’s batting .298 in his first 114 at-bats in 2018 — Judge is a consistent threat to get on base and move his teammates into scoring position. In fact, pitchers would often rather walk him than let him hit, which is why Judge led the league with 127 walks in 2017.

2. Defensive Prowess

But Judge doesn’t just hit homers — he also steals them. At 6 foot 7 inches, reminding long-time Yankee fans of Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, the defensive stud is tall and athletic enough to toe the wall and pull down potential home run balls that would otherwise go over the fence.

Indeed, Judge’s ability to steal home runs was on display in last year’s postseason play. In Game 3 of the American League Division series, he robbed Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor of a go-ahead run in the sixth inning, giving the Yankees a key and decisive shutout win.

This year, Judge has already taken a go-ahead homer away from Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph. With Judge in the outfield, opposing teams have yet another obstacle to overcome beyond merely hoping to hit one out off the Yankees’ solid starting rotation.

3. Team Leader

It’s not just Judge’s on-field play that makes him stand out. His leadership on and off the field has earned him widespread comparisons to Derek Jeter, by everyone from former Yankees manager Joe Girardi on down. In fact, Jeter helped mentor Judge from the day he first arrived in the Bronx, going out of his way to greet the young rookie, and Judge has looked to mimic and replicate Jeter’s example ever since.

Judge’s leadership is also inherited from his parents, both of whom are teachers. In fact, Judge considered going into teaching before opting for baseball. His parents emphasized preparation, being on time, executing and speaking through silent example. To that end, his leadership style can be both quiet and vocal, guided by both example and words.

Moreover, some of Judge’s leadership gestures are subtle. Case in point: He starts every home game by tossing out one sunflower seed for each member of the extended Yankees roster and saying a prayer for them. He also introduced music to the team locker room during his rookie season, and veterans say it’s the only clubhouse where no one complains about what’s being played.

To add another element to his leadership style, Judge believes in turning every setback into a positive, an attitude he has helped spread to the rest of the clubhouse. When the Yankees were mired in a slump last year, Judge took the lead by encouraging his teammates to focus on doing better the next time.

Judge’s combination of offensive weaponry, ability to defend the long ball and charismatic leadership make him one of the most valuable players on the Yankees’ roster. And just like his rookie card, his value can only increase in years to come.


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