Welcome to a new daily feature for the final six weeks of the Yankees’ 2022 season. It’s no secret that at this point, Aaron Judge has become the story of Major League Baseball. He’s turned his final tour around the majors before free agency into his own playground of destruction, and even after going homerless for nine games, he got back on track against the Mets with homers on consecutive nights to reach No. 48.
The odds are understandably against Judge breaking the most obvious mark connected to him throughout the campaign — Roger Maris’ franchise and American League record of 61. Hitting 14 homers in 6 weeks is a tough ask. Approaching Barry Bonds’ 2001 high-water mark of 73 is even more of a long shot and would require a September for the ages.
But here’s the thing: Judge is a special talent. This is a man who clubbed 15 homers in September 2017 to become the first rookie to cross the 50-homer threshold. As recently as July, he hit 13 in a month, and due to the delayed start of 2022, he has a bit of wiggle room with six regular season games in October. If anyone can go off for a bonkers September, it’s this guy.
Given the way that the Yankees like to occasionally rest him and acknowledging the fact that if they clinch, they may take him off his feet once or twice down the stretch, he might not play all 38 of the Yankees’ remaining games. We’ll need the baseball gods to smile on his health, too, and for opponents to not pitch around him too much. Nonetheless, this will be a fun storyline to follow as the 2022 campaign comes to a close.
So follow along with us! Every day until Game 162, we’ll have a daily post comparing Judge’s pace to other historic sluggers through Game X of their own remarkable years. (We’ll get creative with other fun facts after Yankees offdays.) Note that we’re going by Team Game* in this regard since each player’s own rising game totals occurred at slightly different points in their seasons.
*Also remember that the 1927 Yankees played 155 games per the 154-game standard of the time, plus one tie that was later made up. Ties also created Game 163s for the 1961 Yankees and 1998 Cardinals. The 1998 Cubs played a Game 163 due to a Wild Card tiebreaker.
Aaron Judge through Game 124 of 2022: 48 HR
Team Game 124: 8/24 — 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, K, SB
As detailed on Tuesday night, Judge had the big blow in a 4-2 win over the Mets, belting his 48th long ball of the season on a 453-foot meatball from Taijuan Walker.
Roger Maris through Game 124 of 1961: 49 HR
Team Game 124: 8/20 (2) — 0-for-2, BB, HBP, 2 K
Maris had homered for No. 49 during the opener of a doubleheader in Cleveland, but his original team kept him off the board in the second game. From a team perspective, it didn’t matter, as this eventual championship club swept both contests.
Babe Ruth through Game 124 of 1927: 41 HR
Team Game 124: 8/27 — 2-for-4, 3B, HR, BB, 3 RBI
Believe it or not, the “Great Bambino” only had 40 homers through 123 team games in 1927, but he soon picked it up with a torrid final stretch to 60. That began on August 27th, when he slugged No. 41 off NFL Hall of Famer Ernie Nevers (yes, really). Meanwhile, the poor St. Louis Browns never had a prayer in this one with Ruth doing things like that. The legendary ‘27 Yankees won, 14-4, and St. Louis didn’t score its second run until it was 14-1.
Barry Bonds through Game 124 of 2001: 54 HR
Team Game 124: 8/19 — 0-for-2, 2 BB (1 IBB)
Yeah, Bonds passed the 50-homer mark in the Giants’ 117th game (only his 108th). It was a preposterous season, and he was sitting on 54 entering Game 124. However, while Tom Glavine and the Braves weren’t exactly sharp in this 4-1 loss, they did keep Bonds in the ballpark, albeit with two walks. So they had that going for them!
Mark McGwire through Game 124 of 1998: 49 HR
Team Game 124: 8/19 — 2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 BB, 2 RBI
This was a helluva day in the ‘98 Home Run Chase. McGwire’s Cardinals faced Sosa’s Cubs at Wrigley Field and they wrestled with the MLB home run lead. “Big Mac” did more than his fair share of work, launching a majestic shot in the eighth for No. 48 to tie the game against right-hander Matt Karchner. With the game still alive in the 10th, McGwire did it again off veteran Terry Mulholland with a blast to dead-center for No. 49, and the Cardinals won, 8-6. The man did not like letting Sosa snatch the lead away from him (as he had in the first).
Sammy Sosa through Game 124 of 1998: 47 HR
Team Game 124: 8/16 — 1-for-5, HR, RBI, K
The Cubs’ 124th game of ‘98 came a couple days prior to the Cardinals’ one that was just referenced in the McGwire entry. August 16th against the Astros was Game 124 for them, and don’t you worry — Slammin’ Sammy homered in this one, too. He took righty starter Sean Bergman deep to the opposite field for No. 47 on the memorable season, tying McGwire at the time. The Cubs needed it too, as it took them 11 innings to win, 2-1.