Aaron Judge bet on himself, and it appears he’s able to money in — if he can stay healthy.
After going deep twice in a loss on Monday to Baltimore, Judge, 30, the Yankees’ right fielder, had a major-league-leading 17 home runs. That was five greater than some other player this season through Monday, but things get truly impressive if you compare his season up to now to great seasons of the past.
He had more home runs than Babe Ruth had through 40 games in 1927 (13). He had greater than Roger Maris had through 40 in 1961 (11). He outdid Sammy Sosa’s 40-game totals in 1998 (7), 1999 (13) and 2001 (14). He had the identical number as Mark McGwire had in 1998, and greater than McGwire had in 1999 (12). He was only five wanting what number of Barry Bonds had in 2001.
Those years should sound familiar: They’re the eight seasons by which a player has hit 60 or more home runs.
“It’s really special,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said Monday. “I sometimes take it as a right, but not at once. He’s a very special player and clearly really carrying us offensively.”
Being the most effective hitter on the most effective team within the majors is definitely an argument for an even bigger contract than the seven-year, $213.5 million deal Judge rejected within the off-season. But when he wants to affix the rarefied air of 60-homer sluggers, and if he wants to influence his team to ensure even extra money to a player his age, he might want to keep himself on the sphere.
Unusually large for a baseball player, Judge is 6 feet 7 inches and 282 kilos. While that has led to tape measure power, surprisingly fast base running and superb defense, it has also resulted in a spotty injury history. In his 4 full seasons, he missed a combined 131 games. He also missed 32 of the Yankees’ 60 games within the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He has made it to 150 games only once.
The 2022 M.L.B. Season
“Chill out, all right? Don’t attempt to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls, it’s more democratic.”
- Look Good, Feel Good, Play Good. Smell Good?: For various players, a heavy dose of cologne or women’s perfume is the unlikeliest of performance enhancers.
- The Third Baseman’s Gambit: Manny Machado is the most popular hitter in baseball, and he’s coming on your Queen.
- The Loneliest Team in Baseball: The Oakland Athletics gutted their roster and flirted with Las Vegas. Now their fans look like in full revolt.
- King of Throws: Tom House has spent his life helping superstars get even higher. With a recent app he desires to fix young pitchers before they develop bad habits.
To hitch the 60-homer club, he probably must match, and even exceed, his profession high of 155 games played: In Major League Baseball’s eight 60-homer seasons, the players averaged 156.8 games.
It’s a feat that requires remarkable durability and consistency, a reality emphasized by the incontrovertible fact that in six of the eight instances, the player was later connected to performance-enhancing drugs. And since of injuries and regression to the mean, even players who got off to hotter starts than Judge cooled off because the season chugged along.
McGwire was well on his approach to a 3rd straight 60-homer season in 2000, with 20 through 40 games, but injuries limited him to 89 games and 32 homers. Albert Pujols had 20 through his first 40 games in 2006, but finished with 49. Luis Gonzalez had 20 through 40 games in 2001, but fell wanting 60, hitting 57. He recovered well enough, looping an R.B.I. single off Mariano Rivera to clinch Game 7 of that 12 months’s World Series for Arizona.
Three players (Mickey Mantle, Bonds and José Bautista) had 19 through their first 40 games of a season, and so they finished with 56, 49 and 43 home runs. Ten have had 18, and only two of those reached 50 for the season. Due to injuries, Gary Sánchez (2019) and Eric Davis (1987) didn’t even reach 40.
Judge is more likely to cool off even when he stays healthy. Many batters find that the ball carries higher because the weather warms, but Judge has typically done most of his damage in April, May and September, averaging a homer every 11.6, 11.4 and 11.1 at-bats in those months. In June, July and August, when he has ceaselessly handled nagging injuries, he has homered every 14.5 at-bats.
For now, the Yankees are having fun with the show. Next month, the team is anticipated to learn how much they should pay him this season — The Recent York Post reported his long-delayed arbitration hearing is scheduled for June 22 — and after the season, it’s going to learn how much he’s value on the open market.
If he stays mostly healthy and tops 50 homers for the second time in his profession — or if things go perfectly and he gets to 60 — which will result in a cope with a complete value of $300 million or more. If such a dream season also includes leading the Yankees to their twenty eighth World Series title, they might be glad to pay him that much.