At 31, Aaron Judge overtakes Babe Ruth, hits halfway mark to HR history

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge celebrates as he rounds the bases after his two-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto, Sunday, June 30, 2024.
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
Esteban Quiñones
Monday July 1, 2024

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Aaron Judge, the New York Yankees’ standout slugger, hit his 31st home run of the 2024 season in Sunday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The powerful blast to center field traveled 423 feet with an exit velocity of 109.8 mph off Kevin Gausman’s fastball.

With his latest home run at Roger Center, Aaron Judge surpassed legendary Babe Ruth in one notable category. The slugging outfielder set a new franchise mark for homers hit before July 1. Ruth had held the previous record with 30, achieved in both 1928 and 1930. The Sultan of Swat clubbed 60 homers in his iconic 1927 season.

Aaron Judge’s power surge comes as the Yankees struggle through a recent slump, having dropped seven of their last 10 games. Despite the team’s recent woes, he contributed two hits and two RBIs in Sunday’s contest.

The 30-year-old is on pace to shatter his personal best for home runs in a season. Aaron Judge’s 31 home runs lead the majors, significantly outpacing his nearest rivals, Shohei Ohtani of the Dodgers and Gunnar Henderson of the Orioles, who are tied at 26 each. With this pace, Judge is halfway to the 62 home runs he hit in 2022, setting the American League single-season record.

Aaron Judge’s consistent power-hitting has sparked speculation about whether he can surpass his previous AL record. If he maintains his current trajectory, he could potentially challenge his own record. Through 85 team games, Aaron Judge has played in 83, putting him on track for 58 homers this season when adjusting for playing time.

Aaron Judge, a player for the New York Yankees, will be playing against the Blue Jays on June 30, 2024.
Yankees

But Comparing his current statistics to his 2022 performance highlights his potential to break the record once more. Aaron Judge is outpacing his historic 2022 campaign, having launched his 31st home run of 2024 nearly two weeks ahead of last year’s schedule. This impressive acceleration has sparked excitement among Yankees fans and baseball enthusiasts, fueling speculation about another potentially record-breaking season.

Aaron Judge’s performance has surged since April, when he managed only six home runs, likely due to the lingering effects of an abdominal injury from spring training. He bounced back in May with 14 homers and has already added 11 in June.

Aaron Judge’s MVP-caliber first half has been pivotal for the Yankees, who are currently vying closely with the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East lead and are on pace to win over 100 games this season.

Aaron Judge’s season already a part of Yankees lore

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees has etched his name alongside Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth as just the third player in franchise history to tally 80 RBIs before July. The slugger solidified his stellar season in Sunday’s 8-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, launching a two-run homer that helped the Yankees split the four-game series.

He now leads Major League Baseball with 31 home runs and 82 RBIs, continuing to post historic numbers as the Yankees (54-32) vie with the Baltimore Orioles for the AL East lead.

Manager Aaron Boone marveled at Aaron Judge’s unwavering performance, noting that the slugger consistently finds himself in discussions alongside baseball legends Gehrig and Ruth. Boone described his captain’s 2-for-4 outing, which included a towering home run to center field, as almost routine given his lofty standards.

“He’s in that company all the time now,” said manager Aaron Boone. “It’s incredible, what he’s doing. It really is. Kind of ho-hum 2-for-4 today with one off the batter’s eye. He’s in those conversations all the time now with Gehrig and Ruth and whatever superlative you can find. He keeps putting himself in those conversations.”

Teammate Gleyber Torres lauded Aaron Judge’s leadership and impact on the team, highlighting the captain’s ability to excel at an elite level when healthy. Torres emphasized the team’s excitement in playing alongside such an exceptional talent.

“Amazing,” he said. “It’s no surprise to anybody. When he’s healthy, he can do everything he can do. And it’s real special. … He’s a leader, so it’s amazing. I’m so glad I play with him and he keeps rolling.”

Aaron Judge, a player for the New York Yankees, will be playing against the Blue Jays on June 30, 2024.
Yankees

Despite his individual accolades, including contention for the Triple Crown with a .316 batting average (tied for the MLB lead with Shohei Ohtani), Aaron Judge remains focused on team success. He played down personal achievements, stating that his primary objective, alongside his teammates, is winning a championship.

Analysts suggest that batting behind Juan Soto, renowned for his patience and offensive skill, has significantly contributed to Aaron Judge’s success this season. This dynamic pairing has boosted both players’ performances and positively impacted the Yankees’ overall lineup.

As July unfolds, Aaron Judge’s remarkable pace continues to propel the Yankees in their quest for the AL East title and postseason glory.

Ruth’s 1928 campaign, when he hit 54 home runs and drove in over 140 runs, culminated in a World Series victory for the Yankees. The franchise hasn’t hoisted the Commissioner’s Trophy since 2009, leaving fans hopeful that Aaron Judge’s historic performance might herald a return to October glory. As the calendar turns to July, all eyes will be on Judge to see if he can sustain this remarkable power output and potentially challenge the single-season home run record.

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