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Chatelain: With Judge And Sanchez, History Repeating Itself Rather Quickly

By Ryan Chatelain
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As silly as it may seem to ask this about a team that has won 27 championships, the question is still appropriate: Are the Yankees really this fortunate?

Just months after the baseball world watched a rookie in pinstripes -- Gary Sanchez -- clobber homers at a historic rate, we've been given an encore in the form of a hulking right fielder.

As Yogi Berra would say, it's déjà vu all over again.

This past weekend, Aaron Judge entered Sanchez territory by sending three more balls rocketing out of the park. With 10 home runs, he shares the American League lead and also tied a rookie record for April.

"You kind of wonder what he's going to do," manager Joe Girardi said Saturday after Judge hit a two-run bomb against the Orioles. "I'm not sure you really expect 10 home runs from anybody in a month. I mean, that would be 60 in a year."

Entering this season, Sanchez was supposed to be the face of the Yankees' youth movement. Now he's, at best, part of a beautiful two-headed monster.

If you compare them side-by-side, Sanchez's hot streak from last season edges out what Judge has accomplished this year. At least so far.

But just the fact that we can even have such a debate -- much less about two players who should be around for at least another decade -- is borderline ludicrous.

Through 22 games this season, Judge is batting .303 with 10 homers and 20 RBIs. Through 22 games in 2016, Sanchez hit .405 with 11 home runs and 21 RBIs. He also tied the record for fastest to 20 career homers (50 games).

Sanchez's numbers are also more impressive because, save for two games in 2015, it was his first taste of big-league action. Judge, meanwhile, played in 27 games last season, but after homering in his first at-bat, slumped big time, finishing at just .179 with four homers and 10 RBIs.

However, it's easy to make the argument that Judge's struggles are also a positive at this point. He's been fully initiated -- he hit his first low point, made the necessary adjustments, put in the hard work and came out on the other side better than ever.

Sanchez still has that test ahead of him. He never experienced a drought worth mentioning last year. True, he was only hitting .105 when he strained his biceps in the fifth game this season, but was that enough of a sample size to qualify as a bona fide slump? Debatable.

One stat that Judge and Sanchez, who will begin his minor league rehab assignment Tuesday, are virtually tied in is the number of jaws they've left agape. You can practically invent a trivia game with the quotes about them.

For example, whom was this line uttered about?: "I haven't seen anything like it."

It's a trick question. Girardi and Brian McCann were among those who said as much about Sanchez last season. Matt Holliday repeated the same line Saturday when discussing Judge.

But right now, Judge is the star of this show.

You've seen Judge, right? As a friend of mine texted me during spring training after seeing a photo of the 6-foot-7, 282-pounder standing next to his teammates, "He looks like a maxed-out video game character."

Judge exudes power. Just ask the baseballs soaring deep into the cheap seats with the "Handcrafted for Aaron Judge" indentation left by his bat.

For crying out loud, one of his bombs Friday was clocked at 119.38 mph off the bat, the hardest-hit homer of the Statcast era.

Of course, this isn't a competition between Judge and Sanchez. And just imagine what people would be saying about the Yankees' offense, which scored 26 runs in the first two games against Baltimore this past weekend, if Sanchez had been healthy and performing at anywhere close to the level he did last summer.

Let's also not overlook that fellow Baby Bomber Greg Bird clobbered 10 homers in his first 34 games in 2015. In just about any other big-league city, that kind of barrage would keep fans buzzing for quite some time. In the Bronx, it's already been scrubbed from many memories, like a scene from "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." You can credit Sanchez and Judge for that.

For a rebuilding team, this is about as good as it gets.

On some level, hot-shot prospects Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier must be wishing their predecessors would have set the bar a tad lower to take off some pressure when their big days come.

Meanwhile, the biggest question about the Yanks (15-8) has evolved from "Can this team win a World Series?" to "Just how soon might this happen?"

Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryanchatelain

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