Aaron Judge Feels 'No Pressure' in 2nd Season Amid High Expectations

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2018

FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 file photo, New York Yankees' Aaron Judge follows through on a two-run home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium in New York. Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is a finalist for AL MVP and Rookie of the Year, giving him a chance to become just the third player to win the awards in the same year. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America revealed the finalists for its major awards on Monday night, Nov. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)
Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

Making the All-Star team, winning the Home Run Derby, winning American League Rookie of the Year and finishing runner-up in the AL MVP award race all in one year is a tough act to follow.

Some may have been daunted by the expectations that would follow. New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is not.

"With the team we've got, there's no pressure," Judge said, per Coley Harvey of ESPN, when asked about how he will follow up a sensational rookie campaign. "Like I've said before, no one guy doesn't have to do the job of other guys. There's 24 guys behind him, willing to help him out. For me, it's just about taking it one at-bat, one pitch, one play at a time."       

The 6'7", 282-pound outfielder burst onto the scene last year, hitting .284/.422/.627 while smashing an AL-leading 52 home runs—the most ever by a rookie—and knocking in 114. Those numbers earned him a variety of awards, including a Silver Slugger. Not bad for a first season in the New York spotlight.

Not only did he have an outstanding individual season, but the Yankees also came within one win of the World Series. All they did this offseason to try to get over the hump in 2018 was acquire the reigning National League MVP, Giancarlo Stanton.

All that's followed that trade has been months of Bronx Bombers hype and World Series-or-bust expectations.

For Judge, it's all about consistency throughout the 162-game grind. He looked like the MVP favorite while hitting .329 and mashing 30 home runs in the first half last year, but he faded after the All-Star break, hitting just .228 with 22 home runs.

Teaming up with Stanton can be both a blessing and a curse for Judge. It takes some of the individual pressure of powering an offense off the 25-year-old, but it also adds an enormous amount of pressure to the team to win championship No. 28.

The good news for Yankees fans is that Judge enters the season feeling relaxed and ready to go. The key will be finding ways to stay loose as the season goes on.

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