Aaron Judge is the all-time American League home run king in one season. The New York Yankees superstar outclassed Roger Maris with his 62nd homer in 2022, scoring a lead over the Texas Rangers in Tuesday’s penultimate game of the season.
His torrid campaign, which will almost certainly earn him the AL MVP award, has now firmly cemented his place in history. The 2022 Judge is the ultimate power standard for the legendary Yankees and AL franchise.
It took several tense days to push the past. Judge hit his 61st homer on Sept. 28 – last Wednesday – then labored breathlessly at bats, on ESPN live and, for the most part, in balls for nearly a week. He registered five walks and an inning hit in five interim games, compared to only three hits.
But on Tuesday night, in the second game of the Texas doubleheader, he jumped a 1-1 slider off Rangers starter Jesús Tinoko, sending history over the left field fence. He landed in Section 31 at Globe Life Field., and the fan who grabbed him was reportedly taken away by security and had a big decision to make. Historic home run balls have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past.
Chasing the house without suspicion
Many will regard Judge as the flag bearer of home runs in the history of the game, period, despite the actual record books. The only previous seasons to surpass Maris’ 61s were Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in the steroid era that shone and then shocked baseball in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
All three of these batters came under serious suspicion of doping, and McGuire later admitted this.
Kevin Maris told New York Magazine that he views his father’s 61 as a real record and will be happy for Judge when that moment comes.
“I think the public opinion is that dad does have a record,” said Kevin Maris. How can you tag people who are known to cheat the game? This is not the case in any other sport. So I’ll have to go to the court of public opinion.”
Roger Maris, Jr. then followed Judge for most of the chase, saying the same to just about anyone who was willing to listen.
In fact, the 2001 season with 73 homers by Bonds still holds the crown. And Judge, for his part, admits it. He told Sports Illustrated that he considers Bonds to be the single-season home run king. It’s worth remembering Judge grew up in Northern California. while Bonds made noise in San Francisco and was nine years old in the 2001 season.
With which everyone can agree: no one has reached such heights for decades. The player closest to this was teammate Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 homers for the Miami Marlins in 2017. Alex Rodriguez came closest to this AL player with 57 homers in 2002.
Thus, talking about how to classify Judge’s season as one of the debatable greatest players of all time is perhaps less important at this point than the clear skies that Judge repeatedly pierced with the ringing of moonshots and stadium-sized roars.
Opportunities were never a question for the referee. This is a player who arrived in the majors – hell, arrived on this planet – designed to challenge home run records. In his first full season, he won the Rookie of the Year award and hit 52 home runs.
Achieving its potential in sustained outbreaks has been a challenge. This year is only the second time he has reached 600 plate appearances in a season since that rookie campaign. Under the microscope after Judge turned down a renewal offer from the Yankees ahead of the season, he produced one of the best contract year performances of all time, improving himself as a hitter in almost every way. He leads MLB in on-base percentage and miss percentage and threatens to win the Triple Crown in the AL.
Sure, he led in homers and RBIs for most of the season, but the batting title didn’t seem to be on the cards back in August. Then—amidst the constant hum of his power output and the constant pressure from the Yankee attack that came crashing down on his shoulders in August—Judge also took the time to improve.
“I’ve seen a lot of greats – Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera – they always hit over .300 and the power just came with them,” Judge said in late July when he averaged .294. “It has always been my goal to get above 0.300 and we will continue to work on that.”
So while Judge’s home run level may require some mental sorting among the steroid-fogged ancestors, the meaning of his greatness this year is refreshingly clear. He is on track to become the third active player in the 10-WAR season, joining Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. He claims the best parking-adjusted OPS+ offensive record all season since Barry Bonds.
Whether it’s the rigorous PED testing, the steady pulse of Statcast’s numbers, or the sheer logic of a 6-foot-7 giant in thin stripes hitting baseballs far, the pinnacle of Aaron Judge’s experience feels like a phenomenon to be thoroughly savored – understandable but not thoughtful. expected.
The Best of Judge’s Historic Homers 2022
There were so many homers. Let’s take a look at the most memorable ones. Ever a measurable player, we’ll sum up his homers in countable superlatives.
The longest: There was a lot of discussion early in the season about the Baltimore Orioles’ deeper left field fence and how it could hold back the Yankees. Part of that fury was fueled by Judge himself, who called the changes to Camden Yards a “travesty” in May after a deeper wall cost him a three-homer game.
“I’m so sad”, The referee told MLB.com’s Brian Hoch. “Now it looks like Create-A-Park.”
By July, he had found a solution. Just hit one at 465 feet – far, far over the wall.
The shortest: It takes at least a few frontier flyballs to hit that many homers in one year. So we take our hats off to Homer who just got through this. wall scraper in opposite field against the White Sox that no one knew it would be 12th in a very important round the world season.
The most difficult: Turns out his biggest hit was quite significant: a record-breaking 61st explosion last week in Toronto. According to Statcast, he smoked a 117.4 mph Tim Miza pitch over the left field wall against the Blue Jays.
The most important: You could make a strong case for this shot against the Mets, but with the added chance of winning and the added chance of winning the championship, Judge’s most significant long ball came against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 10.
It was a classic backyard baseball fantasy: the Yankees were losing two, and the two men were losing at the bottom of the ninth. He left with a towering homer down the left field line. This gave them four games in East Alabama and started a winning streak that put what was considered a competitive division out of reach for most of the summer.
Is there another story on the line?
In addition to chasing the Triple Crown, Judge’s 11 multiplayer games in 2022 are also tied with Sammy Sosa (1998) and Hank Greenberg (1938) for the most games in a single season. He came down on homers in batches, crushing Nos. 56 and 57 in one game against the Red Sox, then Nos. 58 and 59 in a game against the Brewers.