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 154:
Aaron Judge through Game 154 of 2022: 60 HR
Team Game 154: 9/25 — 0-for1, 4 BB
The pendulum has fully swung the other way. Aaron Judge was consistently seeing pitches to hit in the zones throughout the first half of this month, and he responded by going on a home run binge. Something has finally flipped, as pitchers are now avoiding him like the plague. Yesterday, he drew four walks in five plate appearances. Anyone who’s getting on base 80 percent of the time is doing an excellent job, but it’s obviously not what we’ve come to see.
It’s been impressive to see Judge stay within his game and take what pitchers are giving him, but it must be getting frustrating after a homerless week. Hopefully, some brave pitcher somewhere comes back into the zone soon.
Roger Maris through Game 154 of 1961: 58 HR
Team Game 154: 9/19 — 1-for-5, 1 K
Nothing doing for Roger today, as he could only manage a single off of Hal Brown in a 3-1 win over the Tigers. The performance would dip his OPS for the season just below 1.000, where it would hover for the remainder of the year.
Babe Ruth through Game 154 of 1927: 60 HR
Team Game 154: 9/30 — 3-for-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB
There we have it. In the bottom of the eighth in a 2-2 game, Ruth stepped to the plate against Senators starter Tom Zachary. He sent a fly ball over the wall in right, setting the major league record for home runs with 60 in his team’s 154th game of the year.
This is also the rare homer from the Babe of which we have some (grainy) footage:
And thus, what was for decades the sport’s most cherished record was set.
Barry Bonds through Game 154 of 2001: 68 HR
Team Game 154: 9/28 — 2-for-3, 1 HR, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 R, 2 BB
Another huge game for Bonds, who was single-handedly trying to keep the Giants in the NL West race with the Diamondbacks. His 68th homer was a trademark moonshot, a blast to right-center field:
Chemically-aided or not, the ease with which Bonds produces such magnificent power is awe-inspiring. His lefty swing is actually pretty reminiscent of Judge’s 2022 stroke from the side. Both sluggers generate so much power with a swing that seems so controlled, almost elegant.
Mark McGwire through Game 154 of 1998: 63 HR
Team Game 154: 9/16 — 0-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K
McGwire fires a blank just as his rival moved into a tie with him yet again in the 1998 home run chase, unable to do much against Pirates starter Chris Peters, though the Cardinals broke through against Pittsburgh’s bullpen to win 4-0. This was the day after a doubleheader and the last game of a stretch in which McGwire played 14 games in 13 days, so perhaps the 34-year-old was feeling a little gassed.
Sammy Sosa through Game 154 of 1998: 63 HR
Team Game 154: 9/17 — 0-for-4, 1 K
McGwire’s Cardinals were game further into their schedule than Sosa’s Cubs at this point, so Sosa had a game in hand when he stepped to plate today. He wasn’t able to do much, failing to reach base after his 6-RBI game the day before. The Cubs did manage a 4-3 extra-innings win over the Padres to stay one game up on the Mets in the Wild Card standings.