Aaron Judge's response to May dominance proves he's locked into championship mindset

Here we go.
New York Yankees v San Diego Padres
New York Yankees v San Diego Padres / Orlando Ramirez/GettyImages

After being prematurely written off as having a fatal toe injury, it turns out nobody's having a May quite like Aaron Judge. Nobody has, in this game's history. It's quite possibly nobody will again -- unless somebody disrespects the Yankees' captain again next April, and he decides to take matters into his own hands once more.

Judge, seemingly either on second base or trotting home seconds after each swing of the bat these days, has tallied 12 doubles and 11 homers in his past 20 games, going yard against the Padres again late Saturday night to key another Yankees series win. That stretch rivals anything the slugger did during his 62-homer season (and, in fact, evokes the May hot streak that propelled his record-setting season forward; he followed up a six-homer April with 12 in May, then was off to the races.

The Yankees' captain was batting under .200 after play completed on May 2. After Saturday's launch party, he's raised his average to .280, and his 1.050 OPS leads all of baseball.

But he's been here before. He's mashed an American League record for homers, then watched as his castle crumbled around him in a horrid ALDS and four-game sweep against the Houston Astros. He heard boos -- BOOS -- after matching and exceeding Roger Maris, and while some players would've been scared off to San Francisco by such a callous display, Judge knew exactly how to take it. The boos were warranted. He didn't perform in October. He would simply have to wear them as long as he wore the pinstripes, until the day when it came time to flip the narrative.

How impressed is Judge by his recent stretch? "It's May." Plain and simple.

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has calmer response to May dominance than Alex Verdugo

Judge knows, in order to fulfill Yankee fans' championship expectations, he'll need an October that matches his May performance (or, if it's impossible to conjure up 11 more homers in 20 games, he'll at least need a representative postseason). It's particularly ironic that the month in which he's heated up is May, given that Dave Winfield famously earned the "Mr. May" nickname from George Steinbrenner as a scorned contrast to his October performance. Nobody wants that tag. Judge has proven what he came here to prove; when he's locked in, there's no better baseball player. Now, it's time for him to continue to grind in an effort to transport this exact level of performance to October's stage.

Not all his teammates were quite so willing to discount the Captain's greatness, though. No one treated Judge's streak more hilariously than Alex Verdugo, who would sell his right pinky for a season like his teammate's month.

Verdugo has contributed plenty to the Yankees' recent hot streak, fueled by otherworldly starting pitching, timely hitting, and a home run trio that looks like one of history's greatest when they're feeding off each other.

But, per Judge, what hot streak? It's May.