Does Yankees slugger Aaron Judge look like he’s on the verge of reaching milestones very few MLB hitters have achieved in the game’s history? If he’s feeling any kind of pressure, he’s not showing it. And that’s the case for both how he discusses it with the media and his play on the field.
As New York continues marching toward another American League East title, the club’s best hitter is absolutely annihilating just about everything opposing pitchers send in his direction. And when I say “just about everything”, that’s not an exaggeration.
Aaron Judge is sprinting toward history (and the AL MVP)
There is still two weeks’ worth of games left for the Yankees to play before the postseason gets underway. Judge had accrued 10.4 fWAR so far this year. Outside of Barry Bonds, the only hitter who has accumulated more in a single season is Mookie Betts in 2018 (10.6).
With the way New York’s outfielder is playing right now, he’ll pass Betts within the next day or two.
Prior to Tuesday’s action, Judge owns a 210 wRC+ through 631 plate appearances. Once again, outside of Bonds, nobody has finished a year with a number higher than that since 2000.
On the way to securing his fourth All-Star Game selection this past July, Judge obviously put together a tremendous first half. Not only did his 33 homers lead the league, but he slashed .284/.364/.618 with all those dingers, 70 RBI, and 74 runs scored. This performance led to an ultra-healthy 174 wRC+.
Somehow, his second half has been that much better. Through his most recent 242 plate appearances, Judge has added 26 homers, 57 RBI, and 48 runs scored to go along with a .374/.508/.850 triple slash and a 271 wRC+.
Septembers are almost always fun for him
This season, Judge has posted a wRC+ better than 200 in each month since July, with September currently being the icing on the cake. In 71 plate appearances this month, he’s slashing .491/.586/1.018 with eight homers, 14 RBI, 18 runs scored, and a 334 wRC+.
While this is on an absurd level, September has historically been one of Judge’s best months. If we look at it solely from the perspective of power production, it’s been his best.
Judge has racked up 539 plate appearances in September throughout his career, which is just about the equivalent of a full season. In that time, he’s posted a 1.012 OPS with 43 home runs and 91 RBI. That OPS is his second-best of any month, those homers are the most, and those RBI are tied for the most (but not for long).
Let’s break down his September production since his 2017 Rookie of the Year campaign.
So, as long as Judge gets a full month’s worth of plate appearances, he ends the regular season strong. His September performance in 2017 is especially eye-popping because he hit just three homers with a .680 OPS and a 91 wRC+ the month prior. With Mark McGwire’s rookie home run record in sight, he got hot and made it happen.
While Judge hasn’t really had a tough month this year, that story sure does sound familiar as he continues chasing Maris.
Where will Judge’s home run total end up?
New York has played 146 games so far this season, and Judge has 59 homers. Through that same number of games in 1961, Maris had 56 homers. Ruth had 53 dingers at this point in 1927.
If Judge keeps up his current pace, he’ll finish the year with 65 home runs, according to Sarah Langs of MLB.com. Sure, that wouldn’t be too close to McGwire or Bonds, but it’d be both a Yankees single-season record and the most ever by an American League hitter.
The above table shows that September has typically been one of Judge’s best when looking at monthly splits. Finishing with a flourish is happening again for the slugger in 2022. The question now is what will his home run total actually end up at?
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• Why Mets’ 2022 postseason berth is a little extra special
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• WFAN’s Joe Benigno loves Joe Flacco (just 7 days after destroying him)
• MLB will take Aaron Judge milestone risk on Apple TV after all