Don’t expect Aaron Judge to defend his Home Run Derby title.
The New York Yankees outfielder, who won last season’s midsummer homer-hitting competition, revealed Thursday he’s “leaning” toward not competing in this season’s event.
Judge’s decision isn’t etched in stone, as he admitted he still could change his mind. But it sounds like one victory is enough for the 2017 American League home run king.
“One and done, Home Run Derby champion,” Judge told reporters in Tampa at Yankees spring training, per ESPN.com. “It was a cool experience. I enjoyed it all, but I don’t think I really need to go out there and do it again.”
This comes on the heels of Judge expressing the same sentiment on a podcast released Wednesday by The Players’ Tribune, and maybe we shouldn’t be surprised given his regression immediately following last season’s All-Star break. Judge hit .230 with an .847 OPS in 107 July plate appearances and then really struggled in August, hitting .185 with a .680 OPS and 41 strikeouts in 116 plate appearances, before finally ironing things out down the stretch.
That said, Judge insisted Thursday his decision had nothing to do with his 2017 second-half swoon.
“Not at all. That’s the least of my concerns,” Judge said, per ESPN.com. “I know everyone always talks about the derby will do that, but it didn’t have that effect on me.
“Derby wasn’t even that big of a toll, to be honest. It was just like taking BP. It wasn’t anything too taxing. I wasn’t trying to swing 110 percent. I was taking a normal 80-90 percent swing, just trying to make contact.”
According to ESPN.com, Judge also declined to answer a question about whether his left shoulder injury that required offseason surgery had anything to do with his participation in the Home Run Derby.
Even if Judge doesn’t participate, the Bronx Bombers still could have multiple representatives. Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez took part in last season’s event, as did reigning National League home run champion Giancarlo Stanton, who was traded to New York from the Miami Marlins back in December.
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