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 157:
Aaron Judge through Game 157 of 2022: 61 HR
Team Game 157: 10/1 — 0-for-2, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 1 K
Another day, another game of opposing pitchers avoiding Aaron Judge. To be fair to Orioles hurlers, they are faced with a conundrum: they can take the chance of giving up a historic home run, or guarantee that they’ll appear cowardly in front of an audience of millions.
Austin Voth and Spenser Watkins apparently decided to lock in the look of cowardice, rarely giving Judge a chance to swing. On the couple of occasions that the Orioles came into the zone, Judge failed to capitalize, which I guess earns Voth and Watkins a smidge of credit. While they ultimately did a poor job, allowing Judge, the leadoff hitter, to reach base three times in five tries, they did strike Judge out twice.
Roger Maris through Game 157 of 1961: 59 HR
Team Game 157: 9/24 — 1-for-3, 1 1B, 1 BB
A quiet day for the Bombers as a whole in 1961, with Maris managing just a single as the Yankees cobbled together only five hits against Boston starter Bill Monbouquette. Maris’ teammate, first baseman Bill Skowron, was the only one able to do damage, with his 28th homer of the year a solo shot that gave the Yankees their lone run in a 3-1 loss. Maris still sat one shy of Ruth with less than a week left in the season. Nervy times, these must have been.
Babe Ruth in 1927: 60 HR
Ruth’s remarkable 1927 ended after the Yankees’ 155th game of the regular season.
Barry Bonds through Game 157 of 2001: 69 HR
Team Game 157: 10/2 — 1-for-2, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 HBP
Bonds spent plenty of time on the bases on this day, though he never rounded them after a four-bagger. He was walked twice, once intentionally, and also hit by a pitch from Houston starter Shane Reynolds. Bonds’ contributions helped the Giants to a crucial 4-1 win, though the Diamondbacks team they were chasing also won, leaving San Francisco two games back with five to go. Not only was Bonds racing against time to catch McGwire’s total of 70 homers, so too were the Giants desperately trying to reel in Arizona.
Mark McGwire through Game 157 of 1998: 65 HR
Team Game 157: 9/20 — 3-for-4, 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Another dominant game from McGwire, this one nudging him two homers clear of Sosa. McGwire punished a meatball from Milwaukee pitcher Scott Karl in the first, opening the scoring with a line drive that somehow ended up deep in the left field bleachers:
Karl couldn’t have given McGwire a better to pitch to hit, and the slugger obliged with his 65th homer. Now, if only a current day pitcher would do the same for Judge!
Sammy Sosa through Game 157 of 1998: 63 HR
Team Game 157: 9/20 — 0-for-4, 1 R, 1 K
A disappointing game, as not only did Sosa fall two behind his rival, the Cubs dropped a game they had to have, falling 7-3 to an also-ran Reds team. Chicago was fighting the Mets for the NL Wild Card slot, and New York won on this day behind eight shutout innings from Al Leiter to move one game ahead of Chicago. Much like Bonds’ 2001 campaign, Sosa’s historic chase was also part of a pennant race that came down to the wire.