There will be a new Home Run Derby king at this year's signature All-Star Game event.
New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge told The New York Post on Tuesday that he will sit out the annual home run hitting contest, scheduled for July 16 at Nationals Park in Washington, during this year's All-Star Game festivities.
"There is no need to do it," Judge said Tuesday when asked about defending his title.
Judge won last year's competition at Marlins Park, beating Miguel Sano of the Minnesota Twins 11-10 in the final. He became the fourth Yankees player to win the Derby, joining Tino Martinez in 1997, Jason Giambi in 2002 and Robinson Cano in 2011.
Judge, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year and AL home run champion, dismissed any chance that he would change his mind by this year's All-Star break, even if MLB pressured him to participate.
"Pressure won't do anything," said Judge, who fell into a deep hitting slump after winning last year's Derby.
Judge was hitting .329 with 30 homers and 66 RBIs at the 2017 All-Star break, then batted .179 with seven homers and 16 RBIs with 67 strikeouts in his next 44 games through the end of August.
Judge finished the regular season with an AL-leading 52 home runs.
When asked in spring training if the post-Derby slump would impact his decision to avoid the event, Judge shook his head.
"The Derby wasn't even that big of a toll, to be honest," he said. "It's just like taking BP. It really wasn't too taxing. I wasn't trying to swing 110 percent, I was taking a normal 80, 90 percent swing, trying to make contact."
Judge strongly hinted to reporters then about "leaning" toward not taking part in any future Derby competitions. He didn't offer any reasons behind his decision, other than to say that it was a personal choice.
"One and done, Home Run Derby champion," Judge told reporters. "It was a cool experience. I enjoyed it all, but I don't think I really need to go out there and do it again."