Back in spring practice, New York Yankees hitter Aaron Judge turned down a very reasonable one. It was undoubtedly a bold decision, and Judge has responded this season by doing the seemingly impossible: He made himself more Money. Some players would collapse under that pressure. judge not. He blossomed.
Judge hit his MLB-leading 54th home run of the season Monday afternoon against the Twins, his third homer in as many games. Judge also leads the league in Walks, Runs Scored, RBI, Total Bases, Slugging Percentage, OPS, OPS+, and both the FanGraphs and Baseball Reference versions of WAR. The race for the home run title is not a race at all.
Here is the MLB home run rankings as of September 5:
- Aaron Richter, Yankees: 54
- Kyle Schwarber, Phillies: 36
- Austin Riley, Braves: 35
- Paul Goldschmidt, cardinals: 34
- Mookie Betts, Dodgers: 33
With 54 home runs in 135 team games, Judge is capable of hitting 65 home runs this season (64.8 to be exact). It’s September and Judge has maintained a home run pace that not only gives him a chance to hit 60 home runs, but also a chance to set a new American League season record. That’s still Roger Maris’ 61 home runs with the Yankees in 1961.
“I don’t try, but people keep asking me that question.”. “…I might have a better answer by the end of the year if it happens. When I get to that point we can talk about it. It’s just so hard until then. We’re only half done. Just being halfway is it’s hard to talk about.”
There’s a wonderful symmetry in Judge’s pursuit of Maris’ AL home run record. Maris, who passed away in 1985, hit 61 home runs 61 years ago in 1961. He also wore the No. 9. Judge wears the No. 99. Also, on August 10, Judge hit his 203rd career home run, the same number of home runs Mari’s hit with the Yankees.
“It’s always nice to see dad being brought back into the public eye a little bit for his awards in baseball. He achieved a lot in the game. We couldn’t be prouder of what he has achieved. Sixty-one is a unique number, “Kevin Maris, one of Roger’s sons, told MLB.com in August. “…But (we) would be happy if (judge if) he is capable of (the) monumental task. It’s something that is a unique record, one of the best in the sport. One Batting baseball isn’t easy. To achieve that, you’ve made it through a season, not just one game or one at-bat.”
The question is, can Judge actually break Maris’ record? Or generally hit 60 home runs? Here’s what you need to know about Judge hunting Maris.
Home run leaderboard for a season
Before we go any further, I should mention that only eight times in MLB history has a player hit 60 homers in a season, and six of the eight came during the so-called steroid era. What we’re talking about Judge possibly doing doesn’t happen often. Here are the eight 60-homer seasons in history:
- Barry Bonds, 2001 Giants: 73
- Mark McGwire, 1998 Cardinals: 70
- Sammy Sosa, 1998 cubs: 66
- Mark McGwire, 1999 Cardinals: 65
- Sammy Sosa, 2001 cubs: 64
- Sammy Sosa, 1999 cubs: 63
- Roger Maris, 1961 Yankees: 61
- Babe Ruth, 1927 Yankees: 60
Giancarlo Stanton hit MLB’s last run with 60 home runs and hit 59 deeps in his 2017 NL MVP season. That includes a truly mind-blowing stretch where Stanton hit 30 homers in 48 games. Ryan Howard hit 58 homers in his 2006 NL MVP season. Even in this homer-lucky era, it’s not often that a player makes a real run at 60 Dingers like Judge is this year.
“Aaron was made for this. When we knock on the door of things like this in a month, in six weeks, and we understand the attention that will come with it, I can’t think of anyone better equipped to handle it.” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said so Newsday earlier this month. “I think you can start all the talk around the contract and how that has affected him earlier this year. He’s built for it. I think whatever you throw at him, whether he gets a number or not I don’t think the circumstances and the pressure are going to be a reason why he does or doesn’t do it.”
What Judge has to do for the rest of the season
Judge needs to hit seven home runs in New York’s last 27 games to match Maris’ AL record, meaning he needs eight home runs to break the record and six to hit 60.
Here are the steps the judge must maintain to reach those milestone totals:
62 Homer (new AL single season record)
61 Homer (ties Maris’ AL record)
60 homers (ninth all-time 60-homer season)
Judge’s current pace
The Yankee Stadium factor
Judge is certainly playing in the right home ballpark to hit a run at 60 homers. Yankee Stadium is one of the home game stadiums in the major leagues, although Judge doesn’t exactly pad his total with short right porch cheaps. According to Statcast, Judge has hit just two home runs this season that would have been home runs at Yankee Stadium and only Yankee Stadium: a 364-foot play against Shane McClanahan on June 15 and another 364-foot play against Jonathan Heasley on the 30th of July.
That home run against Heasley was Judge’s 200th career home run. He hit 200 career home runs in just 671 games(658).
It’s no surprise that Judge’s career home run rate at home (one every 13.2 plate appearances) is higher than his home run rate on the road (one every 16.1 plate appearances).
The judge can hit the ball from any part of a park. That said, to get 60 home runs, Judge needs some cheap ones along the way. The schedule seems to be working in his favor.
What about his workload?
This is important. The Yankees have 27 games left, but Judge may not play all of them. The Yankees have used load management for years and rarely deviate from their rest schedule.
Judge has been perfectly healthy this season, not even a single commonplace injury situation, and he’s started 127 of his team’s 135 games (he’s been hit by a pinch four times). A similar pace would see Judge start in 26 of New York’s last 27 games. Two starts less could reduce his home run overall. It could also cost Judge a shot at Maris’ AL record.
Despite a bad patch, the Yankees are on the verge of a post-season suspension and the ultimate goal is winning the World Series (the judge himself would tell you that), so they will do what they think best to ensure that the team is in the best position heading into October. That means they’re unaware of the home run chase and potential history, especially since it’s going to get a lot of ass in the seats in September. How could the Yankees sit at home judges in September?
My guess – and I stress this is just a guess – is that the Yankees will revise their rest schedule a bit and instead of giving Judge full days off, they’re giving him more (possibly a lot more) time DH. The judge’s rest schedule is definitely a thing to monitor.
https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/aaron-judge-home-run-tracker-yankees-star-on-pace-to-break-roger-maris-al-record-after-homer-no-54/ Aaron Judge Home Run Tracker: Yankees star on pace to break Roger Maris’ AL record after No. 54 homer