New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge looks like he was born to play baseball. A 6’7″, 280-pound behemoth who hits home runs seemingly without trying, Judge was a three-sport star in high school (he also played football and basketball), an all-conference performer in college and a top pick in the MLB Draft.
In his first major league at bat, Judge hit a home run.
Then, in his second game, Judge hit another home run, and it looked as if he was on the way to becoming the next Yankees star. After that, though, Judge hit just two home runs the rest of the season (in 25 games) while striking out 41 times. His batting average of .179 was one of the worst in the entire MLB.
Despite all of his potential, some people started to doubt Judge then. One baseball scout said that Judge could turn out like Dave Kingman, a good-but-not-great New York player (for the Mets, not the Yankees). Local news wondered whether Judge’s strikeouts would be a long-term concern.
Some players might have let those doubts affect them, but Judge used the negativity as inspiration. He made a note on his phone with his batting average — .179 — and looked at it every day to remind himself that he needed to improve.
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One year later, Judge is leading all of baseball in home runs, tallied more All-Star votes than any other player and looks like the frontrunner to become MVP in the American League. He’s appeared on Jimmy Fallon and even has his own cheering section at Yankee Stadium.
Oh, and on Monday night, he also won the Home Run Derby in epic fashion, bashing balls over 500 feet, hitting the roof of Marlins Stadium multiple times and knocking out 47 home runs.
So, don’t be afraid to fail. Everyone fails — even Judge, who has struck out more than 100 times this season. The key is to use that failure as inspiration to work hard and improve every day.
And that’s why we can all learn something from Aaron Judge, even if we might never hit home runs for the Yankees.