MIAMI – Aaron Judge’s victory in the All-Star Home Run Derby drew the event’s most viewers in nearly a decade.
The slugfest Monday night was seen by 8.69 million viewers on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and the company’s livesteams. That was up 55 percent from last year’s 5.62 million, the most since 2008’s 9.12 million and the second-most since 1999’s 8.91 million.
The derby got a 10.8 rating in New York, the highest since market records began in 1998. With Mike Moustakas of the Royals among the eight sluggers in the contest, it drew a 13.6 rating in Kansas City, the largest among metered markets.
Asked whether he thought of himself as the next Babe Ruth, Judge demurred.
“No. I think of myself as a little kid from Linden, California, getting to live a dream right now,” he said before Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.
Judge hit 47 home runs in the derby that totaled 3.9 miles, including four drives of over 500 feet. He also hit the Marlins Park roof, about 160 feet above the field.
The rookie right fielder for the New York Yankees leads the major leagues with 30 home runs.
“Aaron Judge has been absolutely phenomenal. I mean, there is no other word to describe it,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday, “He is a tremendous talent on the field, a really appealing off-the-field personality, the kind of player that can become the face of the game.”
Manfred said the Home Run Derby is different for players than the day to day of the season.
“Our game’s a team sport, right? That creates inherent limitations in term of how big a star any individual player’s going to become. It actually creates reluctance among players sometimes to market themselves,” Manfred said. “The great thing about the Home Run Derby, when you think about, it’s the one thing that we do on a national scale where you go out there and it’s about you as an individual player, and he certainly stepped up last night.”