Why Aaron Judge’s 62nd Homer Gives Him MLB’s All-Time Best Home Run Season | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

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With 62 within the bag, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is now the American League’s all-time single-season house run champion. Some may also acknowledge him because the “real” or “true” single-season champ for all of Major League Baseball.

That’s a no from us, however it’s with 0 reservations that we are about to argue for Judge’s 2022 season as essentially the most spectacular access in MLB’s six-member 60 Home Run Club.

First issues first, even though. Or fairly, 62nd issues 62nd.

Having already matched Babe Ruth’s previous file of 60 from 1927 on Sept. 20 and Roger Maris’ next file of 61 from 1961 on Wednesday, it used to be on Tuesday that Judge in the end claimed the all time AL mark for himself. His 62nd house run used to be a 391-foot blast off Texas Rangers righty Jesus Tinoco:

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Though Judge is still 11 home runs short of the MLB-record 73 that Barry Bonds hit in 2001, Roger Maris Jr. surely isn’t alone in his refusal to validate Bonds’ mark. After all, the era that contained not only Bonds’ 2001 season but also Mark McGwire’s 60-plus-homer efforts from 1998 and 1999 and Sammy Sosa’s from ’98, ’99 and ’01 can be fairly described as unusual.


The Other 60-HR Players Had Advantages

Barry Bonds (Harry How/ALLSPORT)

But do you know who doesn’t want to hear it? Judge himself.

The Linden, California native and formerly self-professed San Francisco Giants fan has said on more than one occasion that he still holds Bonds’ 73 blasts from ’01 as MLB’s real home run record, including in September in an interview with Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated:

“Seventy-three is the record. In my book. No matter what people want to say about that era of baseball, for me, they went out there and hit 73 homers and 70 homers, and that to me is what the record is. The AL record is 61, so that is one I can kind of try to go after. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it’s been a fun year so far.”

Back before he was Judge’s teammate on the Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton had a different take when he was making a run at 60 homers with the Miami Marlins in 2017. As he told Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, “Considering some issues, I do [believe 61 is the record].”

The blanks in Stanton’s statement were and still are easy to fill. Bonds, McGwire and Sosa had their homer-hitting heydays during the heart of baseball’s steroid era in the late 1990s and early 2000s. So even if MLB hasn’t scrubbed their achievements from the record books, there’s nonetheless a question about their legitimacy.

Perhaps all the more so given that all three players had strong ties to performance-enhancing drugs. We know for a reality that McGwire used androstenedione. For his section, Sosa reportedly examined sure for PEDs in 2003. Albeit a purportedly unwitting one, Bonds said, by means of his legal professional, to being a person in 2011.

There may have also been other home run-friendly factors during baseball’s steroid era. Expansion in 1993 and 1998 theoretically thinned out the league’s pitching, and a juiced ball might have been in play.

And yet credit goes to Mike Axisa of CBS Sports for making an argument five years ago that still rings true: If you’re going to ding Bonds, McGwire and Sosa for having played during the steroid era, then it’s only fair to also ding Ruth and Maris for the circumstances under which they chartered the 60 Home Run Club.

Ruth played when the American League and the National League had only eight teams apiece, with no interleague play. He was thus playing against the same seven opponents over and over again. This was also 20 years before MLB integrated in 1947, and the Bambino himself knew all about what kind of talent the league was keeping out.

Though it was 14 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier that Maris surpassed Ruth in 1961, that was an expansion year in more ways than one for the American League. It added two teams and lengthened its schedule from 154 to 162 games.


Judge Has None of These Advantages

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In the 75 years since Robinson first suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Major League Baseball has only become more diverse as it has been infused with talent from all over the world. In the sense that it hasn’t expanded since ’98, the league is also pretty well settled.

As for whether Judge could be juicing, suffice it to say there are good reasons seemingly not a single soul actually thinks so.

He hasn’t tested positive for anything, and he’s about the last player on the planet who would need to even think about taking PEDs to get better at his job. At 6’7″, 282 kilos, he is the largest hitter in MLB historical past. Accordingly, he hits the ball more difficult than someone within the game.

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Aaron Judge is first participant within the Statcast generation (since 2015) to have 5 batted balls of 110+ mph in one sport

Has Judge however benefited from enjoying his house video games at Yankee Stadium, the place the correct box foul pole is famously simply 314 toes away?

Yes, however no longer up to you could assume. The ever-useful Twitter account “Would it dong?” has flagged simplest two “unicorns”—that is, home runs that would be out at one stadium and nowhere else—for Judge at Yankee Stadium all year. Statcast places his anticipated house runs at 61, indicating that his rely is true the place it should be.

If Judge used to be doing all this amid the atypical home run environments of 2017, 2019 or 2020, there would inevitably be talk of juiced balls. Home runs are down in 2022, however, precisely because there are new balls that are not touring as a long way.

There’s additionally a compelling piece of circumstantial proof that the ball is not juiced.

If it used to be, one would be expecting Judge to have had corporate in his pursuit of house run historical past. In reality, Philadelphia Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber is his closest spouse with a rather paltry 46 house runs. Previously, a house run lead that enormous used to be identified simplest to Ruth and Jimmie Foxx.


If Anything, Judge Is Disadvantaged

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In addition to watered-down skill swimming pools, PEDs and juiced balls, you recognize what else is wonderful for house run hitters?

Familiarity.

Hypothetically, the extra occasions a batter sees a glass, the much more likely they’re to regulate to stated pitcher. This is quantifiably true inside video games, as batters fare higher in opposition to beginning pitchers the extra occasions they face them.

Nobody must be stunned to listen to that this benefit does not observe just about as a lot to Judge because it has to different individuals of the 60 Home Run Club. He’s the primary one to be caught with a 60-40 cut up for his matchups in opposition to starters and relievers:

Graph by means of Google Sheets

The distinction is in how frequently Judge faces a reliever for the primary time in a sport in lieu of a starter for a 3rd or fourth time. Those eventualities are the other of conducive to energy hitting in 2022, because the reasonable batter is slugging .446 in a 3rd matchup in opposition to a starter and simplest .376 in a primary matchup in opposition to a reliever.

This, in flip, additionally is helping provide an explanation for why Judge has observed such a lot of extra person pitchers than any of the 60-homer gamers who got here ahead of him:

And those 254 pitchers? They have not taken it simple on Judge.

He’s observed the next price of 95-plus mph fastballs (34.5 %) than all however 9 different hitters, and that is whilst he is observed fewer fastballs on a price foundation (49.9 %) than the typical hitter (55.7 %). Pitchers wish to feed him sliders, aka the pitch in opposition to which he has the best possible whiff price (34.1 %) out of the breaking ball circle of relatives.

Did Ruth, Maris, McGwire, Sosa or Bonds face such nasty stuff on a daily foundation? Nobody can say evidently, however “no” is a secure wager.

Consider what issues had been like in 2008, the primary 12 months Statcast lists pitch-tracking knowledge. The best possible price of 95-plus mph fastballs that any hitter noticed that 12 months used to be a trifling 20.7 %, whilst the whiff price at the reasonable slider used to be 3.7 proportion issues less than it’s in 2022.

If that is what issues had been like 14 years in the past, then it is arduous to fathom hitters had been dealing with as nasty and even nastier stuff in 2001. Or 1999. Or 1998. Or 1961. Or for sure 1927.

This isn’t to rule out the chance that somebody from the previous may have hit 60-plus house runs in 2022. Take it from Baseball Reference’s neutralized batting instrument, which posits that ’01 Bonds (69 HR) and ’98 McGwire (64 HR) may have achieved so.

But as that is the finish of the checklist, there is merely no longer sufficient to distract from the truth that just one individual has in fact crowned 60 house runs on this 12 months’s setting.

For this, Judge can, must and certainly will have to take a bow.


Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.

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