Aaron Judge never faced Giancarlo Stanton.
His Yankees’ teammate Gary Sanchez knocked him out in the first round.
Instead, Judge was pushed to the limit by Stanton’s teammate, Justin Bour.
But displaying the same power that has made him the biggest story of the first half of this season, Judge smacked 23 homers to oust the last Miami Marlin standing and eventually took home his first Home Run Derby championship with 47 overall.
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Judge gave the 37,027 fans in attendance at Marlins Park and the millions watching around the world a power display to remember. He became the first rookie to win the Derby and fourth Yankee overall joining Tino Martinez (1997), Jason Giambi (2002) and Robinson Cano (2011).
“I was pretty tired after the first round,” Judge said. “That's the one that got me. But once I had those little breaks in between, for the next two and three rounds, I felt fine. I was ready to go.”
After overcoming an impressive performance by Bour 23-22 in round 1, Judge went on to beat another rookie, Dodgers’ first baseman Cody Bellinger 13-12 in the semifinals and the Twins’ third baseman Miguel Sano 11-10 in the finals.
Judge, who leads the majors in home runs this season with 30, hit second in each matchup.
Judge hit the longest home run of the competition – 513 feet - in the semifinals.
He also hit home runs of 504 feet and 501 feet and averaged 435.3 feet.
“Adrenaline was pumping a little bit,” Judge said. “I tried to use the whole field and just square up every ball I could.”
Stanton and Bour did not stay after the competition to speak to the media.
Their teammate Marcell Ozuna, who will start in left field for the National League in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, did have some praise for Judge.
“Before I wasn't thinking my boy Stanton wasn't going to win the home run derby because he did really good last year and won,” Ozuna said. “But this year? That kid [Judge] is amazing. Hopefully, God blesses him and he can do whatever he wants in this game.”
Judge’s long-distance show started even before the Derby itself.
During pregame batting practice, Judge sent a ball into the air that hit the edge of the retractable roof at Marlins Park that the Statcast tracking system projected at 463 feet.
Not long after Sanchez beat Stanton, Bour made everyone wonder for a bit if the top two seeds would fall in round 1.
Bour, whose longest home run was 464 feet, spread the ball to all fields and brought the crowd to its feet several times as he posted an impressive 22 home runs.
“I didn't even think about [not facing Stanton],” Judge said. “I was just trying to get out of the first round to be honest.”
With the pressure on, Judge answered quickly as his first three swings resulted in home runs and he steadily chipped away until he hit what he believed were an equal 22 home runs during his regulation time.
But one of his homers was ruled to have stayed in play.
Judge didn’t know that until he hit a home run with roughly 10 seconds left in his 30-second bonus period. Judge took a few steps away from the plate believing he had advanced before someone on the field told him he wasn’t done.
A poised Judge walked back quickly, squared up and hit the decisive home run as time expired.
“It was a blast,” Judge said. “I enjoyed every minute of it.”
With a thunderstorm raging outside the closed stadium, the fireworks started early inside when Sanchez brought Stanton’s bid for a repeat Home Run Derby title to an abrupt end.
Stanton watched Sanchez put on a power display similar to his own last season in San Diego and narrowly beat him 17-16 in a first-round matchup at Marlins Park that provided plenty of thrills for the fans.
Stanton, who broke the record for most home runs in the event’s history last season at Petco Park with 61 overall, fell short of joining Ken Griffey, Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Cespedes (2013-14) as the only players to repeat as Home Run Derby champions.
Sanchez, who has only 13 home runs this season partially due to a biceps injury that kept him out for most of April, was criticized for his invitation to the Derby by Rays’ first baseman and former Marlin Logan Morrison.
Sanchez didn’t disappoint, however, putting on a power display that included a 483 foot home run off the window panel in left field past the stands.
“I felt good that I was able to advance,” Sanchez said. “I didn't win. But I'm glad my teammate [Judge] won.”
Sanchez set the bar high, but Stanton rose to the challenge.
With former Marlins video replay coordinator Pat Shine throwing to him again as he did last year, Stanton started raised his bat to the crowd and started swinging.
Stanton started sending baseballs rocketing past the Marlins Park home run sculpture and others speeding into the seats in the blink of an eye.
He hit one even higher off the window than Sanchez did - 496 feet. That mark fell a foot short of his longest in the 2016 Derby.
Stanton cut Sanchez’s lead to 17-13 and then hit two laser-like homers just before his regulation time expired. But in the 30-second bonus round, Stanton hit a series of pop-ups and line drives to the short outfield, connecting only once before time expired.
Stanton had the top exit velocity of the competition with a 121 mph blast during his round.