How will Aaron Judge's Cleveland debut stack up to these former baseball phenoms?

All rise.

For the first time during his historic rookie season, the Aaron Judge hype train is making a stop in Cleveland.

Having tallied an MLB-leading 34 home runs while compiling a .299 batting average, the New York Yankees right fielder is the runaway front-runner to win the American League's Rookie of the Year award and a legitimate candidate for MVP. On Thursday, he'll play his first game at Progressive Field, as the Yankees kick off a four-game series against the Indians at 7:10 p.m.

Judge, however, is far from the first baseball phenom to come through Cleveland. How have others fared in their Cleveland debuts? Let's take a look.

Ken Griffey Jr., June 9, 1989

Whether it be as a member of the Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Reds or Chicago White Sox, Ken Griffey Jr. was a regular in Cleveland over the course of his 22-year career. His first game in the Sixth City came as a 19-year-old rookie in 1989, as he batted 1-for-4 in a 5-4 Indians win.

In that same game, Griffey doubled up Cleveland DH Mark Salas, assisting on a double play to future Indians' shortstop Omar Vizquel. He would go on to hit 22 of his 630 career home runs in Cleveland.

Alex Rodriguez, October 14, 1995

While he would go on to enjoy one of baseball's most storied careers, Alex Rodriguez's Cleveland debut came in unceremonious fashion. Serving as a pinch-hitter in Game 4 of the 1995 American League Championship series, the 19-year-old Rodriguez struck out against Alan Embree for the final out of the Indians' 7-0 victory.

Rodriguez would go on to spend the entirety of his 22-year career in the American League, thus becoming no stranger to Cleveland. But of his 696 career home runs -- fourth all-time -- just 10 came in the Rock 'N Roll capital.

Derek Jeter April 2, 1996

Although not known for his power, Derek Jeter began his career vs. Cleveland with a bang, hitting a home run off of Dennis Martinez in the 1996 season opener. The shortstop's solo homer served as the second run in what would become a 7-1 Yankees victory.

Over the course of his 20-year career, Jeter would compile a .354 batting average (102-for-288) playing in Cleveland. In his final game at Progressive Field in 2014, he hit 2-4 in a 9-3 Yankees loss.

Barry Bonds, July 8, 1997

Having spent the entirety of his 22-year career in the National League, Barry Bonds never played a regular season game in Cleveland. He did, however, take part in the 1997 All-Star Game at Jacobs Field, going 0-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base in the "Midsummer Classic."

Bonds returned to Cleveland last September while serving as the hitting coach of the Miami Marlins.

Albert Pujols July 6, 2001

Although he began his career in the National League, Albert Pujols wouldn't have to wait long for his first game in Cleveland, as the St. Louis Cardinals came to town in 2001 for an interleague series.

In his first game at Jacobs Field, the eventual Rookie of the Year went 0-for-4 in a 14-2 Indians victory. He's since become a regular foe for the Tribe as a member of the Los Angeles Angels.

Mike Trout, April 28, 2012

Finishing second in MVP voting as a rookie, it didn't take long for Mike Trout to find success. But in the 2012 season opener, the Los Angeles Angels outfielder struggled at the plate, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout in a 2-1 victory at Cleveland.

Since then, Trout has won two MVP awards and made six All-Star teams. But in his most recent Cleveland outing, he replicated his debut with an 0-for-4 showing on July 27.

Kris Bryant, June 17, 2015

Kris Bryant's first welcome to Cleveland was a warm one. The Chicago Cubs third baseman went 2-for-6 in what was a 17-0 victory over the Indians.

One year later, Bryant's success in Cleveland would continue -- albeit on a much bigger stage. He went 7-for-26 with 2 home runs as the Cubs beat the Indians to win the 2016 World Series, with Bryant fielding the final out of Game 7.

Bryce Harper, July 26, 2016

Although he made his big league debut in 2012, Bryce Harper didn't play his first game in Cleveland until the Washington Nationals came to town for a pair of interleague games last summer.

In his first outing at Progressive Field, Harper went 0-for-5 in a 7-6 Indians victory. The following night, he'd bat 0-4, as the 2015 MVP and 5-time All-Star remains in search of his first career hit in Cleveland.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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