June 18, 2024

What we’ve seen over the last month as Aaron Judge has resumed hitting home runs like he did two years ago on his way to 62 is just how much he lost, and what we lost, on a Saturday night in June over a year ago. Judge was chasing a ball in right field at Dodger Stadium when he slammed into a door, tearing tendons in his right big toe. He wouldn’t play again until late July. What we lost when he was out of the Yankees’ lineup were home runs. There are a lot of them.

Judge has hit 15 home runs in the previous month before returning to Yankee Stadium following the Yankees’ recent West Coast trip. He had six and was hitting.197 on May 2. He now has 21, a batting average of.288, and has just put together one of the most amazing months of extra-base hitting in Yankees history.

If Judge stays healthy this summer and the rest of the way, we might be talking about him running at 60 again soon. And if Juan Soto continues to bat ahead of him like he has since Opening Day, the two of them have a chance to do something for the Yankees that only Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Roger Maris, and Mickey Mantle have ever done.

Hit 40 home runs or more in a single season.

So Judge might make more home run history at Yankee Stadium. Soto might be right there with him. Judge is currently on track to reach the middle 50s in home runs for the third time in his career, a feat Ruth accomplished four times for the Yankees. A little more than a month after turning 32, No. 99 is still in the peak of his career and has once again emerged as baseball’s most dangerous hitter, surpassing Soto, Shohei Ohtani, and everyone else.

We keep comparing Ohtani to Ruth because of how he pitched and hit before to this season, conjuring the incredible memories of what Ruth did for the Red Sox before joining the Yankees and virtually creating the home run in baseball. But when Judge has been able to stay on the field, beginning with breaking the rookie record for home runs with 52 in 2017, he has become a modern-day Ruth for the Yankees, larger than life in the same way that The Babe was.

Judge hit 62 home runs in ’22, more than Ruth ever did in a season and one more than Roger Maris hit in ’61 — a season in which both he and Mantle pursued Ruth all the way to September for the Yankees. Last season, despite missing 56 games, Judge hit 37 home runs. If he had played the same 157 games he did in 2022, the number would have been approximately 54. It is about what Judge is on track to accomplish this season, at least thus far.

 

Aaron Judge | Biography, Home Runs, Yankees, & MLB | Britannica

After hitting No. 21 on Saturday night at Oracle Park, here’s what the boy who grew up in Linden, Calif., approximately an hour and a half away, had to say:

“I’ve got a lot of family in town, a lot of friends in town,” Judge stated. “We need to do something special for them.” I’m just trying to stay focused and put on a performance.”

Judge has more extra-base hits in May than any Yankee player since Joe DiMaggio in July 1937. It was only the eighth time in AL/NL history since World War II that a hitter had produced multiple extra-base hits in a month.

Then he and the Yankees cruised through June, sweeping the Giants. Yeah. Judge had remained trapped inside and put on a show. He returns home to New York with 21 home runs and 47 RBIs. Soto, who bats ahead of him, now has 17 home runs, 53 RBIs, and a.322 batting average. It’s only the first week of June, but the two of them have already combined for 38 home runs and 100 RBIs. Ruth and Gehrig reached 40 or more together in 1927, 1930, and 1931. The Babe hit 60 home runs in 1927, while Gehrig hit 47. Gehrig even tied Ruth in 1931, hitting 46. Then Maris and Mantle did what they did in ’61, combining to hit more homers — 115 — in one season than any two Yankees ever had.

 

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Even in the last 20 years in baseball, two or more players on the same club hitting 40 or more has only happened nine times. Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds for the Cardinals in ’04; David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez did it for the Red Sox in both ’04 and ’05; Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome for the White Sox in ’06; Mike Trout and Pujols for the Angels in 2015; Josh Donaldson and José Bautista for Toronto in ’15; Nolan Arenado and Carlos González for the Rockies also in ’15; then Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien for the Blue Jays in ’21. In 2023, three Braves teammates hit 40 or more home runs: Matt Olson (54), Ronald Acuña Jr. (41), times and Marcell Ozuna had 40.

Despite their extensive home run history, the Yankees have experienced this four times. And it might happen again in real time.

“Talk to me at the end of June,” Aaron Judge remarked.

The rest of baseball has received a warning.

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