Aaron Judge of the Yankees looks on from the bench at Minute Maid Park on July 1, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Bob Levey
HOUSTON — Aaron Judge’s use of the word “surreal” to describe his season to this point is rivaled only by his home run total.
The word cropped up again Sunday when the rookie found out he had been voted into this year’s All-Star game as a starter.
“It’s the perfect word for it,” Judge, 25, said Sunday afternoon. “It’s surreal. It’s just a blessing, an incredible experience. I don’t have another word for it to be honest . . . but anytime you get an award like this, I feel like it’s a team award. I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for my teammates around me.”
Judge will be joined in Miami by four, and possibly five, teammates. Starlin Castro, Dellin Betances, Luis Severino and Gary Sanchez were selected for the team and Didi Gregorius has a chance as part of the “Final Vote.”
As for the Home Run Derby, Judge said he still had not made up his mind but did say there was some appeal in possibly competing against Sanchez, who has also been invited to participate.
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“That would be cool to compete against Gary,” said Judge, who leads all of baseball with 27 homers.
For Betances, it was his fourth straight All-Star bid. Castro, on the disabled list with a hamstring strain but expected back perhaps sometime next week, would be making his fourth appearance.
“I don’t know,” Castro said of if he would play. “My progress [recovering from injury] has been pretty good.”
It was the first All-Star bids for Severino and Sanchez and would be for Gregorius as well, should the shortstop win the Final Vote.
“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to play there in my first full season,” Sanchez said through his translator. “I’m very excited about that.”
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While surreal to Judge, it most certainly could not have been a surprise.
From the time the first round of balloting was released early last month it was apparent Judge would be one of the three starting outfielders.
He ended up with the most votes in the American League and second-most overall to Bryce Harper.
Judge’s numbers so far have been, well, surreal. He entered Sunday ranked first in the AL in homers, runs (70), RBI (62), OBP (.448), OPS (1.134), slugging (.686), walks (58), total bases (188) and WAR (5.1). He ranked third in average (.325).
All of that after striking in 42 of his 84 at-bats last season and a down-to-the wire spring training battle with Aaron Hicks for the starting job in right.
“There was a lot of unknown,” Judge said. “And I think that’s kind of what motivated me to go out there and do what I can every day. Do whatever I could to be a consistent part of this lineup.”