We focus on Aaron Judge’s home run total. That’s the universal measuring stick for sluggers, one romanticized for generations. But it is a flawed metric when assessing the special season Judge is having for the Yankees.
The historic numbers we know are no longer cut-and-dry in the post-steroid era world. If Judge hits 60, that would be an accomplishment. But would 61 or 62 mean that much more? And does it even matter if (when) he falls short (likely well short) of 73 or 74? And is 58 or 59 all that different from 60 when you think about it?
There are just too many catches and caveats. The fairer way to quantify Judge’s brilliance this year is to dig deeper. Like the below.
Aaron Judge of the @Yankees has scored 14 more runs and hit 10 more home runs than anyone else in MLB this year.
Only one player in MLB history has finished a season with a double-digit lead in both categories: Babe Ruth, who did so 4 different times (1920, 1921, 1924, 1928).
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) August 9, 2022
Dodgers star Mookie Betts has pulled within 13 runs of Judge since this was tweeted. But still. Pretty remarkable, no?
Back to the home runs: Judge has hit 44 homers so far. His current pace projects he will slug 64 home runs, which would surpass Roger Maris’ 61 home runs in 1961 for the franchise record. And make him baseball’s true home run king in the eyes of many.
Even if Judge doesn’t get to 64 (or 62 or 61 or even 60), he can still finish this season in rare air.
There have been only 16 seasons of 57-plus home runs in history among 11 players. The list:
- Barry Bonds, 2001: 73 home runs.
- Mark McGwire, 1998: 70.
- Sammy Sosa, 1998: 66.
- Mark McGwire, 1999: 65.
- Sammy Sosa, 2001: 64.
- Sammy Sosa, 1999: 63.
- Roger Maris, 1961: 61.
- Babe Ruth, 1927: 60.
- Babe Ruth, 1921: 59.
- Giancarlo Stanton, 2017: 59.
- Jimmie Foxx, 1932: 58.
- Hank Greenberg, 1938: 58.
- Ryan Howard, 2006: 58.
- Mark McGwire, 1997: 58.
- Luis Gonzalez, 2001: 57.
- Alex Rodriguez, 2002: 57.
Some of the players who did not hit the 57-homer mark: Ken Griffey Jr., Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Hack Wilson. If Judge slows down to the point his long ball pace drops by seven homers, he still might join the exclusive club.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]