PITTSBURGH — Another day, another titanic home run by Aaron Judge.
This one, a moonshot to left-center that traveled an estimated 457 feet and accounted for the final run in the Yankees’ 11-5 victory over the Pirates on Saturday grabbed the attention of a certain Hall of Famer whom Judge has long admired and in recent years has gotten to know.
“I can’t help but retweet this shot by @TheJudge44 ;-),” Dave Winfield tweeted.
Judge, who met the former Yankee a couple of years ago during his first spring training with the big-league club, was taken aback when informed of the tweet. “Dave Winfield? That’s pretty cool,” said Judge, 24. “Never in my life would I have ever thought that Winfield would be retweeting one of my swings. That’s pretty cool.”
Judge said Winfield, a special assistant to MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, was always a favorite of his father’s when he played. “He’s a guy that I’ve watched,” Judge said. “My dad always talked about him.”
Not surprisingly, the 6-7, 282-pound Judge found a kindred spirit in the 6-6 Winfield, whom he caught up with during spring training when Clark and the MLBPA made their annual visit to Tampa. “It’s pretty cool to pick the brain of a Hall of Famer,” Judge said.
Winfield’s advice? “Just keeping everything simple,” Judge said. “He said it’s a complicated game; don’t make it too complicated. Simplify everything you can. If you start thinking about too many different things at the plate, you’re not going to be too successful. For [guys] like us who are big, just simplify it and get the barrel on the ball and good things will happen.”
That has consistently happened for Judge, who is hitting .281/.349/.667. His mammoth blast to left-center in the ninth inning gave him a team-best six homers and again left the Yankees’ dugout electrified.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Starlin Castro, who hit an impressive homer of his own, a three-run shot in the sixth that tied it at 3-3. “That sound. Every time he hits the ball, the sound’s unbelievable. It’s really fun to watch.”
It’s a sound that Austin Romine said is distinctive.
“You can hear it. Even if you’re not watching or you’re doing something in the dugout, you can hear it,” he said. “The sound off the bat, it’s amazing. It’s nice to see him locked in.”
Joe Girardi said his 52-year-old eyes had to strain a bit.
“I’m not sure I saw it land,” he said with a smile. “Sometimes these balls these guys hit, my eyes can’t follow them that far.”
Throughout Judge’s career, beginning in the minor leagues and continuing in the majors, scouts have discussed how much power he generates with a seemingly easy swing. “We talk about it all the time; his swing looks like it’s easy and the ball just keeps going,” Girardi said. “A lot of times they look like they’re pop-ups and they keep going and going. He’s got incredible power.”
Power that keeps impressing everyone but Judge, who again insisted he doesn’t pay attention to where his shots land. “Not really,” he said. “Just hit it, put my head down and start running . . . [just] feeding off what the team’s doing. Castro came up big, hit that three-run homer, so I’m just kind of feeding off my teammates, to be honest.”