BALTIMORE — Bryce Harper. Mike Trout.
Those are the only two players in baseball with more All-Star votes than Aaron Judge, with the Yankees’ 25-year-old rookie right fielder looking like a lock to start in his first-ever Midsummer Classic on July 11 in Miami.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Judge said after learning of the first returns on the AL fan ballot, which were released on Wednesday. “It’s pretty crazy. I don’t really have any words for it.”
The Yankees find themselves in first place in their division thanks in large part to Judge, who has put on an incredible power display after having to fight his way for a starting spot in spring training.
“I’m living the dream,” Judge said. “I’m getting paid to play a kids’ game, a game I’ve played since I was a little kid playing T-ball. I’m here with the New York Yankees, we’re in first place, and I enjoy every day I come to the ballpark. We’ve got a good team here. I’m blessed to be in this situation. Hearing that I’m third in the All-Star voting, I never would have thought something like that.”
Judge said he’s still undecided as to whether he’d participate in the Home Run Derby if asked – he added he’d like to consult other players like mentor Matt Holliday, who has done it before – but Joe Girardi wouldn’t stop the 6-foot-7, 282-pound slugger, who leads the majors with 17 bombs, from participating in the event.
“I’m never going to tell a player not to do it,” Girardi said. “The big thing about the Home Run Derby is you don’t get hurt and you don’t change your swing. This is a guy that his line-drives go out. The only thing that doesn’t really go out are his groundballs, and he’s not trying to hit those anyway.”
Judge participated in a Home Run Derby when he was in college. He won it, by the way.
“It’s just BP (batting practice),” said Judge, who seemed unconcerned about any of his swing mechanics getting fouled up. “It’s just taking BP with a bunch of people watching.”
Judge has done well with all eyes on him so far. And the fans have certainly embraced him.
“This is just outside noise,” he said. “I’ve got a job to do on the field. It’s a great accomplishment that I’m third in the voting, but like I said before, I’ve got a job to do on the field. That’s where 100 percent of my focus is. I think it’s still May, right?”
Starlin Castro, who has produced in the cleanup spot after Greg Bird went down with injury, ranks first among all AL second baseman in the voting.
“I’ve never started. I went three times with the Cubs (as a reserve),” Castro said. “I think it’s really emotional right now (for me). There are still a lot of games left, but if we keep playing like we’re playing, hopefully the fans keep voting for us.”
Castro has cooled off a bit after getting off to an unreal start, but he said: “I think at the end of the year my numbers will be there.”