Aaron Judge HR no. 13 leads Yankees to ’99 footsteps, tying the two-decade-old record

Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, and Alex Verdugo celebrate after the Yankees beat the White Sox 7-2 at Yankee Stadium on May 19, 2024.
Sara Molnick
Monday May 20, 2024

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Yankees captain Aaron Judge, facing White Sox right-hander Chris Flexen in the fifth inning, connected with an outside cutter and drove it the opposite way. The slicing two-run blast, measuring just 339 feet, marked his 13th homer of the season and seventh long ball in his last 13 games. His towering home run also cemented the Yankees’ 7-2 victory over the White Sox at Yankee Stadium, according to Statcast.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone later told Aaron Judge that the slugger was the only person capable of hitting a ball like that. Boone praised his star player’s ability to hold his ground, generating power behind the swing, and expressed his confidence that the ball would leave the yard.

“I said it to him a few minutes later, I’m like, ‘I think you’re the only person that can hit a ball like that,’ ” Boone said. “He held the ground so well, so he had some power behind it. But I did think it was going to go. Pretty impressive.”

With his 13 home runs, Aaron Judge now finds himself tied with Shohei Ohtani for the third-most in the majors, trailing only Gunnar Henderson and Kyle Tucker, who have each hit 15.

Leading in Home Runs in 2024 MLB as of May 19
PlayerTeamHome Run
Gunnar HendersonBAL15
Kyle TuckerHOU15
Aaron JudgeNYY13
Josh NaylorCLE12

Aaron Judge’s last nine hits have been predominantly extra-base hits, with eight of them coming in the past five games. After a relatively quiet start to the season, the Yankees captain has caught fire, batting .389 with an impressive 1.405 OPS over his last 21 games.

Yankees equal torrid 1999 pace

Aaron Judge in the Yankees dugout after hitting a home run against the Tigers on May 5, 2024.

Offensive fireworks have defined the Yankees’ blistering start in 2023. Their improved ability to put crooked numbers on the scoreboard has propelled them to an AL-best 33-15 record, matching the franchise’s hottest start since their 1999 juggernaut.

The Yankees are scorching out of the gates, matching the franchise’s best 48-game start in over two decades with a torrid 33-15 record after Sunday’s 7-2 win over the White Sox. Aaron Boone’s juggernaut has been powered by sensational all-around play. Through 48 games, the Bronx Bombers have plated four or more runs an incredible 31 times. The gaudy run-scoring backs up their elite rankings across numerous offensive categories entering Monday’s action. The Yankees sit among the top five in Major League Baseball in runs (233), hits (410), bases on balls (188), team batting average (.256), and OPS (.767). They’re also tied for the league lead in long balls with the Orioles, having launched 68 homers already.

On Sunday, it was unlikely heroes Jon Berti and Jose Trevino who keyed the latest victory out of the 8-9 spots in a relentless lineup.

“We’ve just been clicking on all cylinders it feels like,” explains Jon Berti, who homered in Sunday’s win. “Starting pitching, bullpen, offense, defense. It’s been a lot of fun when you’re playing baseball like that.”

While sluggers like Juan Soto and Aaron Judge have garnered headlines, the real story has been the Yankees’ impressive depth. With ace Gerrit Cole sidelined, the rotation has incredibly posted a 2.81 ERA – New York’s lowest mark through 48 games since 1951. Unheralded names like Carlos Rodon, who starred against Chicago, have stepped up alongside an unhittable bullpen led by Clay Holmes’ historic 20-game scoreless streak.

While matching their blistering 2022 start is impressive, Boone knows this scorching pace must carry into October for it to truly matter. The Yankees have the offensive firepower and enviable pitching depth to finally construct a championship squad. But they’ll need to sustain this torrid play deep into fall to cement their status among the franchise’s all-time great teams.

“We’re getting big contributions and big production from our big boys right now,” Boone said. “Those are the guys that are going to carry you. But when you’re getting contributions from now the guys that support up and down the lineup, that’s when you have a chance to have a special offense. We’re a long way from that but we’re seeing the signs of that that are exciting. And today it was Trevi and Jon down there.”

New York Yankees Aaron Judge (99) celebrates with Anthony Rizzo, right, after hitting a home run against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of a baseball game, Friday, May 17, 2024, in New York.
AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

With a murderers’ row of sluggers like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Juan Soto anchoring the lineup, the Yankees have blended power with patience and batting average in ultra-impressive fashion. If they can maintain this torrid offensive pace, they’ll be a formidable force to contend with all summer and into October.

Decoding Yankees’ winning formula

The New York Yankees are feasting on victories, and their recent 7-2 win over the White Sox showcased the secret sauce behind their success. Here’s a breakdown of their winning formula, a recipe any team would be wise to study:

It all starts with pitching dominance and the starter shuts down the opposing offense right from the get-go. On Sunday, southpaw Carlos Rodon sizzled against his former team, pitching six stellar innings, allowing only two runs while striking out six. This continues a hot streak: Yankee starters have claimed victories in seven straight games, remarkably surrendering just five runs in that stretch. Interestingly, the Yankees are one of only two teams where their starters have consistently pitched at least four innings every single game this season. Before Rodón’s fantastic outing, Yankee starters boasted a league-leading 3.00 ERA across 47 appearances.

Next, the offensive firepower takes over. The Yankees know how to capitalize on scoring opportunities early, grabbing the lead and keeping control of the game. Catcher Jose Trevino tied the game with a clutch two-run single in the second inning, setting the tone for a strong showing. Jon Berti then launched his first-ever home run in Yankee pinstripes, a three-run blast in the fourth inning, putting the game firmly in New York’s grasp. Then, Aaron Judge added the finishing touches with his 13th home run of the season in the fifth, leaving no room for doubt. This offensive efficiency is no fluke: the Yankees are an impressive 14-4 when they hit two or more homers in a game, and even more dominant at 24-2 when they score five or more runs.

Yankees' Aaron Judge rounds bases after his home run against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium on May 19, 2024.

Finally, the Yankees bullpen bridges the gap from the starter to the closer, ensuring a secure win. In this game, manager Aaron Boone strategically brought in Michael Tonkin after Rodón, who delivered a stellar 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Finally, closer Clay Holmes shut the door with two runners on base, securing the victory. The Yankees’ bullpen has been a force to be reckoned with all season, boasting a league-best 2.54 ERA.

This winning formula, a combination of strong pitching, early offensive bursts, and top-notch relief pitching, has propelled the Yankees to seven consecutive victories and solidified their position as the American League’s top team. At 33-15, they’ve matched their best 48-game start in over two decades, replicating their impressive performance from the 2022 season.

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