Batting Around: The jury deliberates on whether Aaron Judge can reach Babe Ruth and Roger Maris territory
Written by Mike Axisa on June 23, 2022
We are almost three months into the 2022 regular season. The sample sizes are no longer small, but there is still a lot — A LOT — of season to play, and plenty of teams are still vying for a spot in the new 12-team postseason format.
Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we debated whether the White Sox should move on from Tony La Russa. This week we’re going to discuss a hallowed home run milestone.
Do you think Aaron Judge can hit 60 home runs this year?
R.J. Anderson: I’m going with no. I’d like to see it, of course, but it’s hard to hit 60 home runs. Judge obviously has the strength to do it, as well as the incentive (it’s his walk year) and the environment (hey, it’s OK to benefit from your home park), but that’s often not enough. Besides, he has an injury history and the Yankees — the best team in the American League — might decide that resting him for the postseason is more important than allowing him to pursue a 60-homer season to the bitter end.
Dayn Perry: I’ll say yes. I worry about his durability, sure, but I think the warmer months would benefit his pace. Plus, there’s always the chance MLB has swapped out the deadened ball for the rabbit ball. I think resting him for the playoffs is a possibility, but the lure of letting him take his hacks as he approaches such a rare benchmark will be very tempting for a players’ manager like Aaron Boone.
Matt Snyder: I really hope so, as Internet chaos can be quite entertaining and the thought of people breathlessly arguing on social media whether Aaron Judge is the “real” record-holder by passing Roger Maris but falling shy of the likes of Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds is pretty funny, in a sick way. While we’re here, I might as well pour some gasoline on the matter: The real record is 73.
Anyway, I’ll go with no. There are just too many things that have to go his way in order for it to happen and the smart money is on at least one of those things going wrong.
Mike Axisa: Hey, Roger Maris is still the single-season home run king! In the American League, anyway. His 61 homers in 1961 are still the most in AL history. Six of the nine 60-homer seasons in history have been hit by National League players — Bonds once, McGwire twice, Sosa thrice. Only Maris and Babe Ruth have done it in the Junior Circuit.
To answer the question: sure, I think Judge could hit 60 homers. He has the strength and plate discipline (and plays in the right ballpark) to hit 70 or even 80 homers. Will it happen? Nah, I don’t think so, even though Judge has impressively maintained a 62ish homer pace the last few weeks. It’s just that 60 home runs is so many home runs and so much has to go right to get there. Judge has to stay healthy, the Yankees can’t rest him too much down the stretch, other teams have to actually pitch to him, etc. There’s no shame in 50-plus dingers.
I will note that, following his two-homer effort Wednesday, Judge had 27 homers in 69 team games. Giancarlo Stanton had 18 homers through 69 team games in 2017, the year he won NL MVP and hit 59 homers. Judge is well ahead of Stanton’s pace and plays in a much more homer friendly ballpark. I don’t think it’ll happen but 60 homers is not completely impossible.
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