Even with the shoes of Derek Jeter being very difficult to fulfill, Aaron Judge will eventually take the reign as the next captain of the New York Yankees.
It took Yankees legend Derek Jeter just over seven seasons to be named the 11th captain in club history. But for star slugger Aaron Judge, it may take half as long. Now entering his fourth season as the Bomber starting right fielder, it’s clear Aaron Judge controls the emotion of this Yankee team. Both his humility and grace under pressure are attributes that command respect from his fellow teammates.
On May 22nd, 2017 the New York Yankees introduced “The Judge’s Chamber,” a special 18-seat section designed to replicate a judge’s bench. At that point in the season, Aaron had only hit 15 homers. The whole thing just seemed manufactured. It felt as if the organization was desperately trying to force their next star, their next Jeter, their next captain and was doing so aggressively.
Outside of the obvious personality traits, timing plays a major role in naming a captain. It took the Yankees eight seasons between 1995 and 2003 to name Jeter the successor to Don Mattingly. The team felt that both enough time had passed since Donnie Baseball and that Jeter had done enough on the field and in the clubhouse to earn the title.
No, Judge did not win four World Series during his first five seasons. In fact he hasn’t even played in one. But if you compare anybody’s playoff success to Jeter’s your going to be disappointed. Even the Yankees.
What Judge does have is a presence, something the organization clearly noticed early on. And I’m not talking physically. Like Jeter, Judge leads by example. He has a calming demeanor that stems from his reserved competitiveness. Most importantly, he’s able to keep everything in perspective. “It’s a long season,” we always hear Judge say even after a heartbreaking loss or personal failure that would discourage most young ballplayers.
Aaron Judge checks all the boxes; he has since he was a rookie with his own section in the Yankee Stadium stands. And now, as our mourning of Jeter turns into a celebration this year in Cooperstown, it’s time to pass the torch and the recipient is waiting with open arms in his right field bench.