Aaron Judge hits 61st HR to tie Maris’ AL record, may get 64 home runs this season

Aaron Judge at 61 HR
Sara Molnick
Thursday September 29, 2022

Table of Contents

Aaron Judge hit his 61st home run of the season on Wednesday to earn a place among the most prolific home-run hitters in the Major League. The Yankees slugger equaled Roger Maris, who hit 61 homers in 1961, for the single-season record in the American League.

Now an elite MLB superstar, Judge leads the majors in home runs. He has the best batting average and on-base percentage at present. The power hitter is set to win the first Triple Crown in a decade as he tops the table in RBI, walks, and runs scored. Aaron Judge is currently the best slugger with the highest slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+.

Just weeks before this season started, the Yankees presented unsuccessfully tried to have the star player for seven years by offering him $213.5 million. However, Judge rejected the extension deal. It was an audacious choice, there is no question about that. But Aaron Judge has responded to it by doing something that seemed impossible. He has made himself much more valuable by successfully chasing the 61-year-old AL home-run record.

Players often succumb to pressure but Aaron Judge has done very well to handle it and stayed focused on his batting. He also remains above all in FanGraphs and Baseball Reference’s WAR. There was hardly anyone who can come close to his home runs this season.

Let’s see how is the homer leaderboard for this season till September 28.

PlayerTeamHomeruns
Aaron JudgeYankees61
Kyle SchwarberPhillies42
Pete AlonsoMets40
Yordan AlvarezAstros37
Austin RileyBraves37
Mike TroutAngels37

Aaron Judge is currently on pace to hit 64 home runs for the season after slugging 61 home runs through 155 games played with his team.

There is a wonderful sense of symmetry in Aaron Judge’s attempt to break Maris’ record for most home runs hit in the American League. Maris, who passed away in 1985, set the record for most home runs in a single season with 61 in 1961. In addition, he wore number nine. The number 99 is worn by Judge. On August 10, he hit the 203rd home run of his career. This is the same number of home runs that Maris hit while playing for the Yankees.

Single-season home run leaderboard

Before we go any further, I want to point out that in the history of MLB, only nine players have hit 60 home runs in a single season, and six of the top six of those nine players did it during what has become known as the “Steroid Era.” What we think Judge might do is not something that happens often. Here are the nine 60-homer seasons in history:

PlayerTeamYearTotal Home Runs
Barry BondsSan Francisco Giants200173
Mark McGwireSt. Louis Cardinals199870
Sammy SosaChicago Cubs199866
Mark McGwireSt. Louis Cardinals199965
Sammy SosaChicago Cubs200164
Sammy SosaChicago Cubs199963
Aaron JudgeNew York Yankees202261 (counting)
Roger MarisNew York Yankees196161
Babe RuthNew York Yankees192760

Giancarlo Stanton made MLB’s last run at 60 homers. In his 2017 NL MVP season, he hit 59 home runs. That includes a really crazy stretch where Stanton hit 30 home runs in 48 games. In 2006, when he was the NL MVP, Ryan Howard hit 58 home runs. Even in this age of home runs, it’s not often that a player comes close to hitting 60 home runs.

The Yankee Stadium factor

Aaron Judge certainly plays in the right home ballpark to make a run at 61-plus homers. Despite the fact that Yankee Stadium is one of the ballparks in the major leagues with the highest number of home runs hit, Judge has not padded his total with any short right field porch cheapies.

Going through the Statcast, it reveals that this season, Aaron Judge was able to score only two home runs that befit the “benefitted home runs” at Yankee Stadium. One was a 364-footer on June 15 in a game with the Tampa Bay Rays. The second was also a 364-footer on July 30 while facing the Kansas City Royals.

Aaron Judge hit the 200th home run of his career during his at-bat against Jonathan Heasley of the Rays. In only 671 career games, he became the second player ever, behind only Ryan Howard (658), to reach the 200-homer.

It should come as no surprise that Judge’s career home run rate at home (one every 13.2 plate appearances) is significantly higher than his home run rate on the road (one every 16.1 plate appearances). Aaron Judge has the ability to hit the ball out of the park no matter where he is. The Yankees’ final three home games of the season will take place against the Orioles from September 30 to October 2.

What about his workload?

This is a big deal. The Yankees still have seven games to play, but they have already won the AL East and a Wild Card Series bye. Those seven games don’t have any point. Aaron Judge’s manager Aaron Boone has said that he might give him a day off at some point to give him a break before the playoffs. This could happen soon, but it doesn’t look like it will happen during the next home stand. If 50,000 Yankees fans show up and Aaron Judge isn’t in the lineup, they might burn down Yankee Stadium.

Judge himself would tell you that the ultimate goal is to win the World Series.

Should the Yankees consider giving Aaron Judge rest before the playoffs start?

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