Welcome back to the Aaron Judge Home Run Record Tracker! We’re taking a daily look at where Aaron Judge’s monster season tracks compared to some of the other historic single-season home run leaders in anticipation of Judge potentially joining their ranks. We’ll be going by Team Game because not every player’s seasons were in sync with the calendar days and everyone didn’t play all of the team’s games, which makes this our universal standard. Let’s run through Game 156:
Aaron Judge through Game 156 of 2022: 61 HR
Team Game 156: 9/30 — 1-for-2, 2 BB (1 IBB), 1 K
Orioles starter Jordan Lyle got Aaron Judge to go down swinging in his first at-bat, and while Judge got him back with a single in the third, that was the end of Baltimore really pitching to him on Friday night. Lyles got ahead of him 1-2 in the sixth before nibbling led to a walk, and in the eighth, a 2-0 mid-at-bat injury delay for reliever Félix Bautista only prolonged what eventually became an intentional walk. The Yankees took an L and Judge was kept in the ballpark.
Roger Maris through Game 156 of 1961: 59 HR
Team Game 156: 9/21 — 0-for-4, 1 K
Orioles right-hander Jack Fisher gave up a historic home run to Roger Maris just a few days after this, but on September 21st, he simply dominated New York at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. The only Yankees to get hits were left fielder Héctor López, pinch-hitter Tony Kubek, and pitcher Bill Stafford. All other players took a collar, and that included Maris, who struck out in at-bat No. 1 and was then held to two fly balls and a comebacker during Stafford’s three-hitter. Amusingly, the Yankees scored three runs anyway thanks to four Orioles errors, but the home team won, 5-3.
Babe Ruth in 1927: 60 HR
Ruth’s remarkable 1927 ended after Yankees’ 155th game of the regular season.
Barry Bonds through Game 156 of 2001: 69 HR
Team Game 156: 9/30 — 0-for-1, 2 BB (1 IBB), 1 HBP
In the third inning of Game 156, Brian Tollberg got Barry Bonds to ground out to shortstop. Even though Bonds started, that was his only official at-bat on the day, as otherwise, the Padres gave him nothing at all. Both of his walks came on four pitches, and reliever José Núñez gave him a back-bruiser on a 1-0 pitch in the seventh. Bonds was in the on-deck circle with Trevor Hoffman closing out a Padres win, and there he would remain. That’s a .750 OBP night, but no help in the home run department as Bonds remained one shy of Mark McGwire’s 1998 record of 70.
Mark McGwire through Game 156 of 1998: 64 HR
Team Game 156: 9/19 — 0-for-4, 1 HBP, 4 K
There was no headway to be found in Game 156 of the great 1998 home run race either, as McGwire suffered one of his worst games ever. He got plunked in his first plate appearance and then struck out in four consecutive at-bats — just the fifth time in his career that he’d fanned four times in one game. The first two came against Brewers starter Steve Woodard and the next two were at the hands of relievers Alberto Reyes and Bronswell Patrick. McGwire also made an error in the field! It just wasn’t his night.
Sammy Sosa through Game 156 of 1998: 63 HR
Team Game 156: 9/19 — 0-for-4, 3 K, 1 GIDP
If you kept the old SportsCenter highlight package above, then you also caught a glimpse of Sammy Sosa’s own bad day. Reds right-hander Jason Bere turned magician by striking out Sosa in three-straight at-bats, and future All-Star reliever Danny Graves got him to bounce into a game-ending double play.