Back in spring training, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge rejected a very reasonable. It was a bold decision, no doubt about it, and Judge has responded this season by doing what seemed impossible: he’s made himself more money. Some players would crack under that pressure. Judge hasn’t. He’s thrived.
Judge reached a milestone Monday night in Anaheim, cracking his MLB-leading 50th home run of the season. He followed it up Tuesday with homer No. 51. Judge also leads the league in walks, runs scored, RBI, total bases, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, and both the FanGraphs and Baseball Reference 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 Aug. 31:
- Aaron Judge, Yankees: 51
- Kyle Schwarber, Phillies: 36
- Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals: 33
- Austin Riley, Braves: 33
- Mookie Betts, Dodgers: 32
Slugging 51 homers through 131 team games puts Judge on pace to hit 63 home runs this season (63.1, to be exact). We are just about into September and Judge has maintained a home run pace that not only gives him a chance at 60 homers, but also a chance to set a new American League single-season record. That is still Roger Maris’ 61 homers with the 1961 Yankees.
“I try not to, but people keep asking me that question,”. “… 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.”
There is some wonderful symmetry in Judge’s pursuit of Maris’ AL home run record. Maris, who passed away in 1985, hit 61 homers 61 years ago in 1961. He also wore No. 9. Judge wears No. 99. Also, Judge hit his 203rd career home run on Aug. 10, the same number of homers Maris hit with the Yankees.
“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 in what he accomplished. Sixty-one is a unique number,” Kevin Maris, one of Roger’s sons, told MLB.com in August. “… But (we) would be excited for (Judge if) he is able to 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 …….