After hitting .179 with a 44 percent strikeout rate in 27 games in 2016, Judge has come on strong in his rookie season. Judge is hitting .341 with an MLB-leading 22 home runs. He could make a rare opening statement: Only two players have won Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season, Fred Lynn in 1975 and Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.
WHAT ARE THE COUNTS AGAINST THE DEFENDANT?
Two strikes are no obstacle. He has nine homers in two-strike counts this season, tied with Eric Thames for the most in the majors. He’s slugging .532 in two-strike counts this season, second-highest in the majors behind Bryce Harper (.543).
Judge is the third Yankees player to wear number 99. Brian Bruney wore it in 2009 (39 innings pitched) and Charlie Keller wore it in 1952 (one plate appearance).
Judge leads the majors in home runs with 22. He’s the first Yankees rookie to hold sole possession of even the AL lead in home runs for a day, and he’s held it for 37 days this season.
He became the first rookie in MLB history to be the first player to 20 homers in a season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Yankees player to be the first to 20 homers in a season was Alex Rodriguez in 2007.
Judge hit his 26th career home run in his 86th career game, tied with teammate Gary Sanchez for most career HR through 86 career games in Yankees history.
ORDER IN THE COURT
How He Hits
Soft pitches: Judge has a .680 slug percentage in plate appearances ending on soft pitches, second-highest in the majors (Justin Bour .724). Eight of his 22 home runs have come on those pitches, only three players have more HR on soft pitches (Joey Votto, Cody Bellinger, and Justin Bour each have nine).
Plate discipline was an issue for Judge last season. He had a 30 percent chase rate and 43 percent swing-and-miss rate. This season, he has a 22 percent chase rate and 32 percent swing-and miss rate.
BURDEN OF PROOF
It looks like Judge hits long home runs, and there’s evidence to back that up. On Sunday, he hit a 496-foot homer, the longest HR since ESPN began tracking in 2009. Judge’s 22 home runs have been calculated at an average of 416 feet this season.
POLL THE JURY
At the last balloting update on Tuesday, Judge checked in with 1,893,260 votes for the All-Star Game this season, the most of any player in the American League.
FINAL VERDICT: HOW MANY HR WILL HE END UP WITH?
Judge has 22 home runs in 62 team games, which puts him on pace for 57 this season.
If he manages 23 more, he’ll have the 20th season of 45-plus home runs in Yankees history. Those seasons were by Babe Ruth (nine times), Lou Gehrig (four times), Mickey Mantle (two times), Alex Rodriguez (two times), Joe DiMaggio (once), and Roger Maris (once). If he gets to 57, he would be tied for 14th-most in a season in MLB history. Two Yankees have hit 57-plus homers: Babe Ruth (twice) and Roger Maris (once).
Tune in Wednesday night to see Judge in action as the Yankees take on the Angels at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN.