Aaron Judge chases elusive, elite 60-homer milestone amid ifs and buts

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Aaron Judge is the biggest hitter for the New York Yankees in the 2022 season. He inched closer to breaking Roger Maris’ 61-year, single-season record with his 54th home run against the Twins on Monday. It was his third home run in as many games.

The slugger also has the most walks, RBI, total bases, slugging percentage, OPS+, OPS, and the maximum number of runs this season. He is also the highest-ranking player in the FanGraphs and WARP. Judge remains the runaway leader in the race for the most home runs.

But back in spring training, the California-born outfielder didn’t agree to a $230 million, seven-year contract and signed a $17 million deal that runs through this season. That too to avoid arbitration. Many criticized Judge to miss out on a very reasonable deal. However, today, those critics see it as a brave choice.

No doubt, Judge has responded to contract criticism by doing something that seemed “impossible” to many. He has gained more money this season by letting his bat speak. Some players wouldn’t be able to handle criticism. Judge hasn’t done that by stopping short of responding to contract rumors. He has done well with his bat.

In the Major league this season, until September 5, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees has the maximum of 54 homers. The Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber is placed second with 36 home runs. Austin Riley of Atlanta is just one short of Kyle. Paul Goldschmidt of the Cardinals ranks fourth with 34 while Dodger Mookie Betts has 33 home runs.

Where does Judge stand today?

Judge is on track to hit 65 home runs this season if we go by forecasts made by analysts. He has hit 54 home runs in 135 games (64.8, to be exact). Now that it’s September. Judge has kept up a home run pace that gives him a minimum chance at both 60 home runs and a new American League single-season home run record. Roger Maris hit 61 home runs with the Yankees in 1961.

“I try not to, but people keep asking me that question,” Judge responded when asked about him going after Maris’ record at the All-Star Game. He told “… I might have a better answer at the end of the year if it happens. If I get to that point, we can talk about it. Until then, it’s just so hard. We’re only halfway through. Only being halfway there, it’s tough to talk about.”

Judge’s attempt to break Maris’ AL home run record has a lot of great symmetry to it. Maris, who died in 1985, hit 61 home runs in 1961, 61 years ago. He wore No. 9 as well. Judge’s number is 99. Also, on August 10, Judge hit the 203rd home run of his career. Maris hit 203 home runs with the Yankees too in August.

“It’s always nice to see dad brought back in the public eye a little bit for his accolades in baseball. He accomplished a lot in the game. We couldn’t be more proud of what he accomplished. Sixty-one is a unique number,” told Kevin Maris while speaking about the record of his father Roger. After his response was sought on Aaron Judge’s chasing of 61 homers this season, he responded, “… We would be excited for Judge if he can achieve the monumental task. It’s something that is a unique record, one of the best in sports. Hitting a baseball is not easy. To accomplish that, you have done it over a season, not just one game or one at-bat.”

The question now is whether or not Judge will be able to beat Maris’ record. Or hit an overall total of sixty home runs? The following is all the information you require regarding Judge’s pursuit of Maris.

Judge and the best home run records in a single season

Judge has 54 till September 5, 2022. What we think Judge might do is not something that happens often in the history of baseball. Before him, there are eight others with a record of more than 60 home runs in a single season. Six of them belong to the infamous “steroid era.” Here are eight of those magnificent players who surpassed the 60-homers milestone in one season.

Player Team Year Total Home Runs
Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants 2001 73
Mark McGwire St. Louis Cardinals 1998 70
Sammy Sosa Chicago Cubs 1998 66
Mark McGwire St. Louis Cardinals 1999 65
Sammy Sosa Chicago Cubs 2001 64
Sammy Sosa Chicago Cubs 1999 63
Roger Maris New York Yankees 1961 61
Babe Ruth New York Yankees 1927 60

Giancarlo Stanton was the last player in MLB to chase the elusive 60 home-run club. In his 2017 NL MVP season, he went had 59 homers. That includes a crazy stretch where Stanton hit 30 home runs in 48 games. In 2006, when Ryan Howard was the NL MVP, he hit 58 home runs. Even in this age of faster and more home runs, Judge is one of the few players who have a real shot at hitting 60 home runs this season.

“Aaron is cut out for this. If we’re a month from now, six weeks from now, and he’s knocking on the door of those kinds of things, and we understand the attention that’s going to come with that, I can’t think of someone more equipped to handle it,” according to New York manager Aaron Boone.

He also added, “I can think how difficult it was to start the year when all the talk centered around the contract and how that’s affected him. He’s built for this. I think anything you throw at him, whether he gets to a number or doesn’t get to a number, I don’t think that the circumstances and the pressure are going to be a reason he does or doesn’t.”

Judge at Yankee Stadium

Aaron plays in the right ballpark while getting closer to hitting 60 home runs. Yankee Stadium is one of the ballparks in the major leagues where home runs come easily if have the power to hit. It should come as no surprise to find that the slugger boasts a better rate at home – one every 13.2 plate appearances – than on the road, which stands at one every 16.1 plate appearances.

But Judge isn’t exactly adding to his total with short, cheap hits to the right field porch. Judge has only two home runs this season at Yankee Stadium. The first one was a 364-footer against Shane McClanahan on June 15 and the second was a 364-footer against Jonathan Heasley on July 30.

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

Judge can knock the ball out of the park no matter where he is. Having said that, Judge will need a few easy home runs along the way to reach his goal of 60 home runs. It would appear that he will benefit from keeping to the schedule.

What more Judge should do?

This is a crucial point. There are still 27 games left for the Yankees to play, but Judge might not participate in all of them. He needs just 7 more to equal Maris. But the Yankees have a history of keeping to the rest schedule.

Judge hasn’t had a single day-to-day injury this season, and he’s started 127 of his team’s 135 games. The slugger took over the role of a pinch-hitter four times. At the same rate, Judge would start 26 of New York’s last 27 games. His number of home runs could go down if he made two fewer starts. It could also keep Judge from breaking Maris’ record.

Even though they had a bad stretch, the Yankees are almost certain to make the playoffs. Their ultimate goal is to win the World Series. So, they will do what they think is best to put the team in the best position for October. Still, they are aware of the home run chase and what it could mean for history, especially since it will bring in a lot of fans in September. How could the Yankees leave Judge at home in September? They won’t mind changing their rest schedule for a player who has emerged as a rallying symbol for fans in New York.

Let’s know what you think about it. Should Judge get rest? How many homers he will score this season?

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