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 head onto Game 129:
Aaron Judge through Game 129 of 2022: 50 HR
Team Game 129: 8/29 — 1-for-2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 2 BB
For most of this game, it didn’t look like Aaron Judge was going to even get a chance at smacking a home run. The Angels steered clear of throwing anything enticing to him, walking Judge in each of his first two at-bats (to the dismay of a generally pro-Yankees road crowd). That changed when the Angels brought in Ryan Tepera for Jose Suarez in the seventh, and Tepera gave Judge a chance in the eighth. Judge responded with this:
It’s hard to understate how incredible a season Judge has had to this point. If the season ended tonight, it would still be a historic run for Judge, making him just the tenth player in MLB history with multiple 50 home run seasons and the third Yankee, joining Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. He also joins Roger Maris (more on him in a second) as the only Yankees and only American League players ever to have hit 50 out before September began. Unreal.
Roger Maris through Game 129 of 1961: 51 HR
Team Game 129: 8/26 — 1-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Naturally, the man that Judge is primarily chasing didn’t stay still on this day either. Maris went back-to-back with Tony Kubek in the sixth inning of the Yankees’ game against the Athletics, chasing Jerry Walker from the game in a 4-0 hole. Maris’ 51st of the year was the last he’d hit in August despite having five more days in hand, setting up his 10-homer September/October to break Ruth’s record.
Babe Ruth through Game 129 of 1927: 44 HR
Team Game 129: 9/3 — 2-for-4, 1 K
Ruth had half of the team’s hits in this outing, but neither of them left the yard in a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia. Ruth’s well behind the pace at this point, but his hot streak is right around the corner.
Barry Bonds through Game 129 of 2001: 55 HR
Team Game 129: 8/25 — 1-for-3, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
Bonds’ two walks in this game were not of the intentional variety, but the Mets sure did not want to give him anything good to hit. Bonds still made them pay the one time he did connect with a ball, singling and later scoring on a John Vander Wal single. He even was active on the basepaths, stealing a bag earlier in the game. No long balls in this one though.
Mark McGwire through Game 129 of 1998: 52 HR
Team Game 129: 8/22 — 2-for-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB
McGwire’s Cardinals were truly sliding at this point in the season, falling to five games below .500 with a blowout loss to the Pirates (who were just a game below them in the standings). Despite this, McGwire’s bat was still cooking, and he made his presence felt in the first inning with a two-out solo shot off of Francisco Cordova. Much like Judge in the present day, Big Mac couldn’t will his team to wins by himself, but he was doing his part.
Sammy Sosa through Game 129 of 1998: 49 HR
Team Game 129: 8/22 — 0-for-5, 2 K
This series is centered on the incredible accomplishments that some historic hitters accomplished, but every now and then said hitters run into a dominant pitcher and can’t manage anything. That was the case for Sosa here, lined up against the one-time Houston Astro Randy Johnson, who was in the midst of a dominating run of his own down in Texas. Johnson won the battle this time, personally getting Sosa out three times over seven innings before turning it over to his bullpen, who got Sosa out another two times.