Aaron Judge chasing home run history: Yankees star on pace to break Roger Maris’ record; will he get there? – CBS Sports

Aaron Judge chasing home run history: Yankees star on pace to break Roger Maris' record;  will he get there?  - CBS Sports

Back in spring training New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge rejected very reasonable seven-year contract extension worth $213.5 million. It was a bold decision, no doubt about it, and Judge responded this season by doing what seemed impossible: he did himself. more money Some players would crack under that pressure. Judge did not. He prospered.

Through Sunday’s games Judge owns a .301/.389/.669 batting line and an MLB-leading 43 home runs. He also leads baseball in runs scored (91), RBI (97), total bases (267), OPS (1.058), OPS+ (196), and both the FanGraphs (6.8) and Baseball Reference (6.3) versions of WAR. The race for the home run title isn’t much of a race at all.

Here is the MLB home run leaderboard as of August 8:

  1. Aaron Judge, Yankees: 43
  2. Kyle Schwarber Phillies: 34
  3. Yordan Alvarez, Astros: 30
  4. Austin Riley Braves: 29
  5. Pete Alonso, Mets: 29

Despite a home run last weekend Judge has been on a rampage since the All-Star break, going deep 10 times in 16 games played in the second half. He has more second half home runs than the Marlins. Literally the whole team. Miami has somehow managed to hit just eight home runs since the All-Star break.

Sluting 43 home runs through 109 team games puts Judge on pace to hit 64 home runs this season (63.9, to be exact). We’re now more than a week into August and Judge has maintained a home run pace that not only gives him a shot at 60 home runs, but also a shot at setting a new American League single-season record. That is still Roger Maris’ 61 home runs with the 1961 Yankees.

“I try not to, but people keep asking me that question,” Judge told our Matt Snyder at the All-Star Game when asked if he was thinking about chasing 60 home runs.. “… 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 there. Just being halfway through, it’s hard to talk.”

There is some amazing symmetry in Judge’s pursuit of Maris’ AL home run record. Maris hit 61 home runs 61 years ago in 1961. He also wore number 9. Judge wears number 99. The question is, can Judge actually break Maris’ record? Or hit 60 homers in general? Here’s what you need to know about Judge chasing Maris.

Single-season home run leaderboard

Before we go any further, I should note that only eight times in MLB history has a player hit 60 home runs in a season, and six of the eight came during the so-called Steroid Era. What we’re talking about Judge might do, doesn’t happen often. Here are the eight 60-home run seasons in history:

  1. Barry Bonds, 2001 Giants: 73
  2. Mark McGwire, 1998 Cardinals: 70
  3. Sammy Sosa, 1998 Cubs: 66
  4. Mark McGwire, 1999 Cardinals: 65
  5. Sammy Sosa, 2001 Offspring: 64
  6. Sammy Sosa, 1999 Offspring: 63
  7. Roger Maris, 1961 Yankees: 61
  8. Babe Ruth, 1927 Yankees: 60

Giancarlo Stanton set MLB’s most recent run at 60 home runs, going deep 59 times in his 2017 NL MVP season. That includes a truly amazing stretch in which Stanton hit 30 home runs in a 48-game span. Ryan Howard hit 58 home runs in his 2006 NL MVP season. Even in this homer-happy era, it’s not often a player makes a true run at 60 dingers like Judge is this year.

Which Judge has already done

While we focus on how many home runs Judge will end the season with, it’s important to note that we’re discussing this because of what Judge has done so far. He is the 10th player in history to hit 43 home runs through his team’s first 109 games. Only three players (five occasions) hit more. Here are the five:

Barry Bonds, 2001 Giants

50 (2.18 G per HR)

73 (2.22 G per HR)

Mark McGwire, 1998 Cardinals

46 (2.37 G per HR)

70 (2.31 G per HR)

Mark McGwire, 1996 Athletics

46 (2.37 G per HR)

52 (3.12 G per HR)

Babe Ruth, 1921 Yankees

46 (2.37 G per HR)

59 (2.59 G per HR)

Mark McGwire, 1999 Cardinals

44 (2.47 G per HR)

65 (2.49 G per HR)

McGwire’s home run rate slipped significantly after his first 109 games in 1996. The others all more or less maintained their home run rate through the rest of the season. When you’re chasing 60 home runs, I think the first 30 are a lot easier to hit than the last 30 for a lot of reasons, including fatigue. The hardest part of this hunt is still before a Judge.

“Aaron is cut out for this. If we’re in a month, six weeks, and he’s knocking on the door of things like this, and we understand the attention that’s going to come with that, I can’t. think of anyone more equipped to handle it, ” Yankees manager Aaron Boone recounted News day earlier this month. “I think you can start at the beginning of this year with all the talk centered around the contract and how that affected him. He’s built for this. I think anything you throw at him, whether he hits a number or doesn’t get. to a number, I don’t think the circumstances and the pressure will be a reason he does or doesn’t.”

What Judge needs to do the rest of the season

Judge needs to hit 18 homers in New York’s final 53 games to match Maris’ AL record, meaning he needs 19 homers to break the record and 17 to reach 60. Judge has hit 22 homers in his last 53 games and that it’s not even his most productive 53-game stretch of the season — he hit 24 home runs in 53 games from June 3rd to August 2nd.

Here are the steps Judge must maintain to reach those milestone totals:

62 home runs (new AL single-season record)

19

2.79

61 home runs (ties Maris’ AL record)

18

2.94

60 home runs (ninth 60-homer season ever)

17

3.12

The current pace of judge

2.53

If you’re thinking big, Judge will need to hit a home run once every 1.97 games from here to match (let alone beat) Bonds’ single-season record of 73 home runs. As much fun as that chase would be, Judge won’t get there. Unless Judge goes nuclear hot the next few weeks and catching Bonds becomes plausible, Maris’ AL record is the only realistic target.

The remaining schedule of a judge

Judge must be playing in the right home ballpark to make a run at 60 home runs. Yankee Stadium is one of the most home run happy stadiums in the big leagues, although Judge doesn’t exactly pad his total with short right field porch cheapos. His 412-foot average home run distance is fifth highest in baseball among players with at least 20 home runs.

According to Statcast, Judge has hit just two home runs this season that would have been home runs at Yankee Stadium and only Yankee Stadium: a 364-footer against Shane McClanahan on June 15 and another 364-footer against Jonathan Heasley on July 30.

That home run against Heasley was Judge’s 200th career home run. He hit 200 career home runs in just 671 games, second fewest ever behind Ryan Howard (658).

It’s no surprise that Judge’s career home run rate at home (one per 13.1 plate appearances) is higher than his home run rate on the road (one per 16.3 plate appearances). That works against Judge in his pursuit of Maris’ AL record as the Yankees will play just 25 of their remaining 53 games at home. Here’s the stat breakdown of those 53 games:

Yankee Stadium

25

112

Fenway Park

5

107

Global Life Field

4

96

Ring Central Coliseum

4

69

Angel Stadium

3

114

Rogers Center

3

114

American Family Field

3

119

T-Mobile Park

3

92

Tropicana Field

3

89

What these numbers mean is Yankee Stadium inflates home runs by right-handed hitters to 112 percent the league average. RingCentral Coliseum, on the other hand, suppresses right-handed home runs to just 69 percent the league average. The higher the number, the more home run friendly the stadium is, at least when it comes to right home runs.

The good news: Judge will play 30 of the team’s remaining 53 games in a good stadium for right-handed homers, or 57 percent. The bad news: The Yankees end their season with four makeup games in Texas (that’s one of the series delayed by the owners’ lockout), so if Judge sneaks up on 60 homers in the final week, he’ll have to. get it into a ballpark unfriendly to righty power hitters.

The other good news: I’m not entirely sure home run park factors apply to Judge. As noted earlier, his power is mammoth and only a few players have averaged more distance on their home runs this season. He can hit the ball from any part of any park. That said, in order to get 60 home runs, Judge will need some cheap ones along the way. The schedule seems to work in his favor.

What about his workload?

This is important. The Yankees have 53 games remaining but Judge almost certainly won’t play all 53. The Yankees are all-in on load management, have been for years, and they rarely deviate from their rest schedule. In fact, Judge was out of the lineup last Wednesday even though the Yankees had an off day Thursday. They used it as an opportunity to give him two straight days off his feet.

Judge has been completely healthy this season, not a single day-to-day injury situation, and he’s started 101 of his team’s 109 games (he’s been pinch-hit four times). A similar pace would have Judge starting 49 of New York’s final 53 games. Four fewer starts could really cut his home run total! It could also cost Judge a shot at Maris’ AL record.

The Yankees are a postseason lock and the ultimate goal is to win the World Series (Judge himself would tell you that), so they’ll do what they think is best to make sure the team is in the best position come October. That said, they don’t ignore the home run chase and the potential history, especially since it will put a lot of bums in the seats come September. How could the Yankees sit Judge at home in September?

My guess — and I stress this is just a guess — is that the Yankees will revise their rest schedule a bit, and rather than give Judge full days off down the stretch, they’ll give him more (perhaps a lot more) time at DH . Judge’s rest schedule is definitely something to keep an eye on, especially as we head into September and have a better idea of ​​whether Judge really has a chance at Maris’ AL record.

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