Aaron Judge continues to be pursuing his 62nd home run of 2022, which might break the record he currently shares with Roger Maris for essentially the most homers by an American League player in a single season.
Judge has three games left by which to hit No. 62, all of that are against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The primary game of a Tuesday doubleheader is now in progress, but Judge has been unsuccessful up to now, grounding out in his first at-bat.
Can Judge stand alone because the A.L.’s single-season home run king? That depends, partially, on the pitches the Rangers give him. Here is an easy way of estimating what number of opportunities Judge might still have remaining within the season. We are going to update this estimate after each of his plate appearances.
We estimate that Judge has 13 plate appearances remaining.
The Yankees have batted Judge within the leadoff spot for the past 22 games, partly in an effort to provide him as many at-bats as possible. Through Monday, Judge has averaged 4.66 plate appearances per game this season when batting first. Using that average, we expect that he can have roughly 14 plate appearances over the ultimate three games of the regular season. He has had one plate appearance in the present game up to now, so by our estimate he has 13 plate appearances remaining.
We estimate that Judge will see 20 more pitches within the strike zone.
Since Judge hit his sixtieth home run on Sept. 20, opposing pitchers have been somewhat more reluctant to provide him pitches he can hit — in any case, nobody wants to provide up a historic home run (or lose). In Judge’s 12 accomplished games since Sept. 20, pitchers have delivered about 1.57 pitches within the strike zone per plate appearance by Judge, in response to Major League Baseball’s zone charts (and counting intentional walks as plate appearances). That’s lower than his season average of 1.91.
We will’t know exactly what the Rangers’ pitchers will do in these final three games, nevertheless it’s a secure bet that they won’t give Judge all fastballs down the center. In the event that they proceed to pitch to Judge as other pitchers have in his most up-to-date games, his 13 remaining plate appearances should work out to about 20 more pitches within the strike zone.
After all, Judge could homer off a pitch outside the strike zone, and never every pitch throughout the strike zone is home-run material. There are also discrepancies in M.L.B.’s various interpretations of which pitches crossed the strike zone. But this serves as a rough estimate of the variety of hittable pitches Judge should still face.
We estimate that Judge has a 59% likelihood of reaching 62 home runs.
Within the 2022 season through Monday, Judge received 1,315 pitches within the strike zone and homered on 58 of them, as tracked by M.L.B.’s zone charts. (His other three home runs got here on pitches that were recorded by M.L.B. as either high or inside, or each, but we’re excluding those from this evaluation.) Which means he has homered on roughly 4.4 percent of pitches within the strike zone.
Now, time for some probability math. Let’s assume that every time Judge faces a pitch within the strike zone, he has an equal and independent 4.4 percent likelihood of homering — a very simplistic assumption, but a good one for this estimate. Given our estimate that Judge will face 20 more pitches within the strike zone, what are the chances that he’ll homer on a minimum of considered one of those opportunities — that the event that has a 4.4 percent likelihood of happening will occur a minimum of once in 20 tries? By the powers of probability, those odds are 59 percent.
Heading into the doubleheader on Tuesday, we estimated Judge’s possibilities at 63 percent, so his probability of success has dropped by about 4 percentage points after his homerless plate appearance.
Our original estimate of 63 percent aligned with how the sports books saw it. DraftKings, for instance, on Tuesday morning was offering -175 odds that Judge would hit a minimum of 62 home runs this season, which implied a probability of 64 percent.
With each unsuccessful plate appearance against the Rangers, Judge’s possibilities will proceed to tick downward, and he and his fans will probably sweat a bit bit more. Or perhaps Judge will hit a house run off the subsequent pitch he faces, and all of those estimates will now not be needed.