MLB home run leader Aaron Judge says he'll skip 2024 Home Run Derby

Aaron Judge, MLB's current home run leader, is skipping the 2024 MLB Home Run Derby, he told the New York Post on Saturday.

The New York Yankees slugger is currently well on his way to a third home run title, hitting his 28th long ball of the season after a quiet April and torrid May. He sits four homers ahead of second place, currently occupied by the Baltimore Orioles' Gunnar Henderson.

Judge confirmed he had been asked if he would participate and he said no, reportedly saying, "There's no need this year."

The Home Run Derby has long struggled convincing many of the game's biggest sluggers to participate, with some hesitating due to worries about the effects of taking dozens of full-effort swings in a row, some being superstitious and some plain just not wanting to do it.

In Judge's case, he competed in the 2017 Derby as a rookie and won, a highlight in a star-making season that also saw him win AL Rookie of the Year honors and finish as runner-up for MVP.

BRONX, NY - JUNE 21: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees in the dugout during the first inning of the game against the Atlanta Braves on June 21, 2024 at Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Aaron Judge will not rise for the 2024 Home Run Derby. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Judge has not competed in the Derby since, but told the Post "I'm not done with it" and "Once it's back in New York, I'll be there."

When exactly the Home Run Derby will be next played in New York City is anyone's guess. The next three All-Star Weekends are already spoken for, with 2024 in Texas, 2025 in Atlanta and 2026 in Philadelphia. The last Home Run Derby to be held in New York was in 2013 at the New York Mets' Citi Field, where Yoenis Céspedes prevailed.

The Yankees last hosted the event in 2008, when Josh Hamilton honored the last season of the old Yankee Stadium with a legendary performance.

After 2026, the new Yankee Stadium will be one of only two MLB stadiums in use to have not hosted an All-Star Weekend, alongside the Tampa Bay Rays' decrepit Tropicana Field. It's hard to see Judge's pledge to participate in the Derby being a significant factor in MLB's decision-making for the site of the 2027 All-Star Game and beyond, but they at least have that fact on their side.