Aaron Judge is having a season to remember for the New York Yankees. Just how will we remember it? Well, that’s the part to be determined. See, Judge is hitting homers at a blistering pace — threatening to break Roger Maris’ American League (and Yankees) record for long balls.
Even if he falls short of that mark, he’s threatening to hit more homers than anyone has in a single season in 20 years. Oh, and he could make himself a lot of money in the process, from the Yankees or someone else, after declining an extension offer in the spring.
So, it’s time to start tracking his chase for history.
How many homers does Aaron Judge have now?
48. Entering Monday’s Subway Series against the New York Mets, Judge had been stuck on 46 for nine games, a relative eternity in his mammoth 2022. He has now struck twice in two games against the Mets. His fourth-inning blast Tuesday went 453 feet in the blink of an eye.
The brief homer drought coincided with a brutal stretch of losing for the Yankees, but Judge’s production has not been the problem. Here’s his homer breakdown by month:
How many homers is Aaron Judge on pace to hit in 2022?
If he plays all the Yankees’ remaining games, Judge’s current pace would get him to 63eclipsing Roger Maris’ historic 1961 total of 61.
Of course, he’s not a lock to play every game, and he’s certainly not assured of keeping up his prodigious pace. The ZiPS and Steamer projection systems at FanGraphs both forecast Judge for 58 homers right now.
If he did eclipses 57, it would be just the 17th MLB season with that many homers.
What home run records is Aaron Judge chasing?
While Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire trounced Maris’ longstanding record in their late ’90s, early 2000s slugfests, they all did so in the National League. The Yankees great’s mark, 61, still stands in the AL.
In fact, the top AL home run seasons are still held by the likes of Roger Maris, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg. The closest any modern player has come to beating Maris was Alex Rodriguez’s 57-homer campaign for the 2002 Texas Rangers.
Maris and Ruth (in 1927) have the only 60-homer seasons in Yankees history, with Ruth also logging a 59-homer year in 1921. Judge himself was the last Yankee to surpass the 50-homer threshold, during his Rookie of the Year -winning 2017
Is there other history on the line?
Yes. Judge looks assured, barring an injury, of becoming just the 10th player in MLB history with two or more 50-homer seasons. Sosa, McGwire and Ruth have the most all time, with four each. The last player to notch a second 50-homer season was Rodriguez. He wound up with a total of three.
Judge, who is 30 years old and in the middle of a career season, certainly has a chance to keep climbing this list.
As he races toward a potential AL MVP award, Judge could also best his teammate Giancarlo Stanton’s single-season homer mark among active players. Stanton crushed 59 homers during his 2017 NL MVP season for the Miami Marlins.
How will Aaron Judge’s season affect free agency?
The Yankees made what appeared to be a fairly reasonable contract offer before the season started — seven years, $213.5 million that would have begun in 2023. Judge and the Yankees settled on a $19 million salary for 2022 shortly before they were due to go to arbitration . Judge, of course, was always well within his rights to push towards the free agent market. And as it turns out, he made the right decision.
His 2022 has been a roaring success, one of the most glorious contract year wins in recent memory. While the Yankees season as a whole has cooled off recently, Judge is still barreling towards a monster pay day. At this point, the homer history doesn’t matter so much as sustaining his overall excellence and avoiding serious injury. Judge has been the second-best hitter in baseball in 2022, 92% better than the league average hitter by the park-adjusted metric wRC+, second only to Paul Goldschmidt.
When he hits the market this winter, he could now reasonably command something in the neighborhood of $300 million. The main limiting factor is his age. He’ll turn 31 in April, which puts a cap on the length most teams would be willing to sign up for.
Beyond the Yankees, his potential suitors could include the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets and Boston Red Sox.