Who truly is the face of Major League Baseball? Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs is a World Series champion and a fan favorite. However, he has Anthony Rizzo on his team as his presence seems to overshadow what Bryant does on the field at times. Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals puts up the numbers and is very popular, but has a tendency to struggle in the big games. How about Mike Trout? The former American League MVP plays for the Los Angeles Angels and, much like Harper, puts up great numbers and is a very popular player. When it comes to the playoffs, he has struggled to help get the Angels over the hump and lead them to a title.
So if none of these guys can be the face of baseball, then who is? How about Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees?
In 2016, Judge made an impact even in his first professional game at Yankees Stadium. He wasted no time as he homered and fans instantly gushed over how special he was. Also, he plays in one of the biggest sports markets in New York City and has been a huge fan favorite.
During his rookie season, set a major league record for most homers by a rookie with 52, passing Mark McGwire’s 47 total in 1987 with the Oakland Athletics. He was the fastest MLB history to 60 home runs. He even got a nickname, “All Rise”, which became his calling card last season. They even installed the chambers in right field at Yankees Stadium where fans can sit with a judge robe and have a foam gavel that says “All Rise.”
Judge has been featured on a couple different ESPN commercials during the last year. He also has done late night shows with Jimmy Fallon. On a particular episode, he interviewed Yankees fans in Bryant Park on what they thought of Judge as he was wearing glasses in disguise. He has also graced the cover of Sports Illustrated multiple times once as the cover boy with the headline “ALL Rise.” On March 26, 2018, the shared the SI cover with new teammate Giancarlo Stanton. This year Judge was the cover boy for the popular MLB the Show 2018 video game on PlayStation 4.
Why is he the player to be the face of baseball? Well besides the popularity that Judge brings, he plays the outfield for probably the most storied franchise in Major League Baseball in the Yankees. Also, he is extremely humble and has a flare for big moments in key spots for New York.
Judge, since entering the league in 2016, has hit 64 home runs with 145 RBIs while posting a .274 batting average. In his first ever playoff game last year, Judge homered off Jose Berrios, ultimately helping the Yankees win 8-4. In the American League Championship Series, he ignited a comeback in Game 4 as they trailed 2-1 in the series. New York was down 4-0 until he belted a homer then hit a double later in the game to tie it up. They would win that game against the Houston Astros, but lose the playoff series in seven. Fast forward to this season, many think the Yankees are one of the favorites to win it all because of Judge, provided that he does not have a letdown.
For Judge to sustain the level of popularity throughout baseball, he will need to continue to stay humble and continue to produce at a high level of success. Thus far, he has been steady. Playing in New York City could be very daunting for any player, but for Judge he seems to have a good grip on the media and the fan base. He will also need to win a ring.
To be the face of baseball you need to sustain a high level of success, have a good perception in the eyes of MLB fans, be marketable, and be a winner. Judge fits into all of those qualities and that is why he is potentially the face of Major League Baseball.