New York Yankees Aaron Judge is on pace to break the American League (AL) single-season home run record of 62, which he set last year.
Judge hit his 19th home run of the season on Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. He led off the sixth inning with a 4-1 lead and pulled an 82 mph slider from right-hander Shelby Miller over the left field fence.
It moved him to within one of the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso for the majors’ home run lead and widened the gap to four in the AL to the Houston Astros’ Jordan Alvarez and the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani for second place.
After missing 10 games with a hip injury, he has exploded into the home run lead since his return. He had 13 homers in 19 games through today’s game against the Dodgers after being silent since returning on April 10 and then blasting two against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 14. That’s a homer every 5.31 at-bats during that stretch.
In an article titled “Can Aaron Judge Make 2023 Better Than 2022?”, MLB.com wrote, “Based on his performance so far this season, you can reasonably infer that he can replicate 2022, and maybe even make it better. He was named AL Player of the Month in May, and if he continues his remarkable play since returning from a hip injury, he could outperform himself.
In 16 games from May 14 to June 1, Judge had 12 home runs and a 1.588 OPS. According to MLB.com, he only had one other 16-game stretch last season that was better than that. In a 16-game stretch from July 15 to August 2, he had 13 home runs and a 1.612 OPS, meaning he’s not far behind where he was last year.
MLB.com took a hard look at the numbers: He’s hit 19 homers in 49 games to date. Last year, he hit exactly 19 home runs in 49 games based on his playing time. So we can assume that he’ll keep the same pace for the rest of the year. Judge hit just one home run in the first 13 games of the season last year. But after that, he produced a home run every 8.6 at-bats, reaching 62 home runs.
There are 102 games left this season. Assuming he misses about four games, similar to last year, he will play in 98 games. His average at-bats per game last year was 3.63. Multiply that by 98 games, and you get 335.74 shots. Divided by 8.6 at-bats, that’s 41 home runs, which means he can add 41 more home runs to reach 60 for the rest of the season.
MLB.com concludes that he should reach 60 homers and a 1.100 OPS this year, noting that he hit 62 homers and a 1.111 OPS last year, and that “with a margin of error of plus or minus three homers for these rough calculations, 63 homers is not out of the question, and given how hard he’s hitting this year, 63 shouldn’t be thrown out the window.
According to Statcast, the percentage of hard hits with a batted ball speed of 95 mph or higher has increased from 61.8% last year to 메이저놀이터 62.6% this year, while his average batted ball speed has increased from 95.9 mph to 97.2 mph and his barrel percentage has increased from 26.5% to 30.4%.
Asked about the secret to his steep upward trajectory at the plate since his return, Judge said in a local interview after hitting a two-homer game against Tampa Bay on March 14, “It’s just the simple idea of sending the ball out there instead of thinking I’m going to hit it right. I just think about being ready to hit and not letting good pitches go by.”
The only other players in history to hit 60 homers in back-to-back years were Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 and 1999 during the “steroid era. There is both realistic and statistical optimism that Judge can become the first player in the “clean era” to hit 60 homers in back-to-back years.