MIAMI — Aaron Judge met the through-the-roof expectations set for him before the Home Run Derby by hitting the one at Marlins Park.
The favorite going into the event, the Yankees rookie took home the crown Monday night, putting on a show in all three rounds with colossal blast after colossal blast, four of which surpassed 500 feet, including a 513-footer.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” former Yankee and current Mariner Robinson Cano said in the American League clubhouse. “Not only the home runs, but to go opposite field so many times. He made this ballpark look like nothing. I thought I’d seen it all before, but he’s something else. He didn’t even look tired.”
The second-seeded Judge, who beat fifth-seeded Miguel Sano of the Twins, 11-10, in the final, said he didn’t feel pressure going in despite the outside chatter.
“I’m a rookie, this is my first time doing it, I’ve got no expectations,” said Judge, who leads the major leagues with 30 home runs and is very much in the conversation for AL MVP. “I’m just going to go in there, have some fun and see what we could do tonight. It was a blast. I enjoyed every minute of it.”
On Monday afternoon, Dellin Betances all but predicted what transpired. “This guy puts on a show every single day in batting practice,” he said. “I think he’ll do the same tonight.”
Judge, who won the only other home run derby he entered — the 2012 college version while he was at Fresno State — did that and more.
The 6-7, 282-pound outfielder had players from both leagues jumping up and exchanging high-fives along with many in the sellout crowd of 37,027 at Marlins Park, who booed Judge during pre-event introductions and cheered hometown favorites Justin Bour and defending champion Giancarlo Stanton.
In the three previous years those measurements were kept, no one had surpassed 500 feet. Stanton came the closest when he planted one 497 feet last year in San Diego.
Judge was denied a homer when one moonshot clipped the rafters in left-center, an area that had never before seen a baseball, according to locals.
But as Cano noted, almost as impressive was the dispersal of homers — most to left and left-center but plenty to center, right-center and right.
“He just finds a way to hit my barrel,” Judge said of Yankees batting-practice specialist Danilo Valiente, who threw to Judge and Gary Sanchez. “He’s a fantastic coach and better person.”
The eighth-seeded Sanchez, whom the Rays’ Logan Morrison had said didn’t belong in the Derby, took out the top-seeded Stanton, 17-16, in a first-round upset. Sano then beat Sanchez, 11-10, in the semis.
The 6-6, 245-pound Stanton, asked about Judge much of this season, seemed to get a little tired of it Monday, though he wore a wry smile.
“Hopefully he’s answered as many questions about me as I do about him,” Stanton said.
The ones Judge was asked mostly dealt with the possibility of meeting Stanton in the final. He replied, “Like I’ve said, I’ve got to get out of the first round first.”
It was a prophetic hedge.
Judge watched the seventh-seeded Bour hit 22 home runs, punctuating many of them by riling up the crowd with the ball still in flight.
“I was nervous going into it,’’ he said. “I think everybody was a little nervous, but once Justin put on a show like that, it was just, ‘I have to go to work.’ ”
Judge’s first swing in the first round resulted in a homer to center. His third sailed 440 feet to left. His seventh traveled 501 feet.
Judge tied Bour with less than 10 seconds remaining in his four minutes and advanced with a liner to left in extra time. Players received an extra 30 seconds if they hit two balls more than 440 feet.
After Sano posted 10 homers in the final, it took Judge just over two minutes to put up 11 and end the competition. He immediately celebrated with Valiente and the other Yankees All-Stars: Luis Severino, Starlin Castro, Sanchez and Betances.
Every player who advanced showed fatigue. Everyone but Judge, that is.
“I was pretty tired after the first round. That was the one that kind of got me,” he said. “But once I had those breaks in between, I felt fine. I was ready to go. Like I said, Danilo just kept hitting my barrel, so he made it easy.”
With David Lennon
A long-distance look at Aaron Judge’s HR Derby show:
Total number of feet HRs traveled
Average distance of HRs