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Jonathan Holder has a realistic shot of making the All-Star team

Middle relievers have only recently started receiving universal recognition for their individual performance in Major League Baseball, due to the new age of numbers in the sport. Saves are no longer the all-telling, ultimate stat about a reliever’s success and WAR, ERA+, and other metrics have opened the eyes of fans on just how valuable it is for a team to have dominant relievers outside of the ninth inning role. Their widely agreed on importance has led to a lot of non-closer relievers making the All-Star team in recent seasons. The American League squad had two of them in 2017 and 2015, and a whopping four in 2016. If this trend continues, the AL should feature at least one or two non-closer relievers, and possibly more, with the scarcity of lockdown closers in the AL in 2018. The Yankees feature a lot of highly talented middle relievers and the pitcher who has surprised everyone the most, Jonathan Holder, has a very realistic shot of cracking the AL All-Star squad.

Aaron Judge invited to participate in Home Run Derby, hasn't decided if he will compete

Unsurprisingly, Aaron Judge has been invited to participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby, which will take place July 10th at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. The rookie sensation has entered his name into AL MVP conversations and is now the favorite with Mike Trout missing a few weeks with an injury. The 6'7" outfielder would bring a whole new element of bat speed and home run distances to the annual long ball contest.

Photo Credit: Ben Margot/AP

Judge is not only going for the home run crown, but also trying to complete the Triple Crown, which is leading your respective league in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. He is currently in the lead or tied for first in all three categories in the AL. Judge is averaging 414 feet on his 23 bombs, including the longest of the season and in the Statcast era, a 496 footer against the Orioles. To go along with his 23 HRs, he’s got a slash line of .335/.445/.699 with 53 RBIs and 6 SBs.

Judge is unsure if he is going to participate yet, but it should be noted that five years ago, in July 2012, the former Fresno State outfielder won the College Home Run Derby at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

Joe Girardi also was asked about the possibility of Judge being in this year’s derby and seemed to approve of the idea. He stated he didn’t think it would affect Judge’s swing at all for the rest of the season and that he watches Judge launch homers to all parts of the field in batting practice.

Judge’s 2,631,284 All-Star votes are the most in the AL and second in all of baseball behind Washington’s Bryce Harper. It is all but guaranteed that Judge will be playing in the All-Star game and now, we can imagine a Home Run Derby final of Aaron Judge and the guy he’s been compared to, reigning champion Giancarlo Stanton.

Article by: Spencer Schultz
Follow me on Twitter @SpenceSchultz63
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