Major League Baseball often is criticized for its failure to develop its stars into household names for the length of its regular season — especially now after its best player, two-time AL MVP Mike Trout, will be sidelined for up to another month after thumb surgery. So Yankees rookie Aaron Judge is one of the best things to come along for the sport at the right time.
The slugger is already the runaway leader for AL Rookie of the Year. But many also consider the 25-year-old Judge the front-runner for AL MVP, both for the stats he has produced (.341/.448/.714, 22 homers, 49 RBI, five stolen bases) and the majestic homers (see: 495-foot blasts) he has launched. Suddenly, the 162-game marathon has some flair.
On Wednesday's episode of "The Herd," guest host Doug Gottlieb explained why Judge has the talent and charisma to reenergize the sport.
Brad PennerBrad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Gottlieb: Judge is the real deal
“Aaron Judge appears to be the real deal — he’s 6-8, 6-7, 280 pounds. So there’s not the sense that he’s Sammy Sosa — used to be a platoon player who steroided his way into being a home run hitter. Like he’s the real deal.”
Gregory FisherGregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Gottlieb: It's the perfect scenario
“He plays for the perfect team, he wears No. 99, he’s got a name like Aaron Judge — the Judge, the Judge has ruled, all these things ... all rise for the Judge. It just fits.”
Anthony GruppusoAnthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Gottlieb: Even the haters can join in
“And there’s also the certain kind of Haterade aspect to it, right? Which is, he is a Yankee, it doesn’t seem fair that they have this guy.”
John E. SokolowskiJohn E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Gottlieb: There's a cross-sport appeal
“He doesn’t look like a baseball player, he looks like a football player playing baseball.”
Andy MarlinAndy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Gottlieb: Judge strikes at the heart of the game
“’Casey at the Bat’ is about a mighty hitter. That’s the root of baseball. Big man with a bat, throwing the baseball, can you strike him out? It just all fits.”