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. Now, for Game 133:
Aaron Judge through Game 133 of 2022: 52 HR
Team Game 133: 9/3 — 2-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 2 K
This game was almost too on the nose. The Yankees wasted a strong overall pitching performance, looking entirely inept and/or uninterested at the plate. Aaron Judge did what he could, smashing a home run in the ninth to try and bring his team back from the brink:
But of course, no one was on base for Judge’s blast. What could have been a game-tying or go-ahead dinger was merely a solo shot that cut the Rays’ lead in half. Judge has 52 homers in 133 games, a genuinely magical performance that is being overshadowed by the putrid performance of the players around him.
Roger Maris through Game 133 of 1961: 51 HR
Team Game 133: 8/31 — 0-for-4, 1 BB, 1 K
A tough game for Maris, and in fact, one of his toughest of the entire 1961 campaign. By WPA this was Maris’ 10th-worst game of the year. Zoom in on this performance’s impact on the Yankees’ title chances, and this was actually Maris’ fifth-worst game of 1961 by Championship Probability Added, with CPA estimating that Maris took about half a percentage point off of the Yankees’ World Series odds with this game. It makes some sense, as the Yankees were clinging to a 2.5-game lead in the AL on the Detroit Tigers entering the day, a lead that was trimmed to 1.5 games by the end of play.
Babe Ruth through Game 133 of 1927: 47 HR
Team Game 133: 9/6 (2) — 1-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K
The Babe continued his tremendous sixth of September, notching another homer in the back half of a doubleheader against the Red Sox after smashing two earlier in the day. The Yankees and Boston would play the final game of a five-game series the next day, and as you’ll see tomorrow, Ruth finished off the set in style.
Barry Bonds through Game 133 of 2001: 56 HR
Team Game 133: 8/29 — 1-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K
A relative quiet game for Bonds, as notching a single and a walk in four trips to the plate lowered his season OPS from 1.320 to a measly 1.316. As has been said before in this space, even in Bonds’ worst games of 2001, he still typically found his way onto the base paths a couple times and found a way to impact the game offensively.
Mark McGwire through Game 131 of 1998: 54 HR
Team Game 131: 8/26 — 2-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 K
McGwire moved to 54 homers through 133 team games, with just another mammoth shot off of Justin Speier:
This two-run homer put the Cardinals up 3-0, but this game actually featured a tremendous St. Louis collapse. The Cards expanded the lead to 6-0 by the end of the eighth, but below it all in the ninth. John Frascatore allowed three consecutive solo home runs to open the final frame, and Jeff Brantley came on to give up a game-tying three-run homer to then-rookie/current A’s manager Mark Kotsay. The Marlins would go on to win 7-6 in extras.
Sammy Sosa through Game 133 of 1998: 52 HR
Team Game 133: 8/26 — 1-for-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI, 3 K
Sosa and McGwire were even in team games played at this point, and Sosa kept pace, smashing a solo homer of his own, a no-doubter to left off of Brett Tomko:
It wasn’t a great game otherwise for Sosa, but no matter, the fans were there to see dingers.