Aaron Judge is having a remarkable start to the 2022 season, with a .311 batting average, .383 on base percentage, .675 slugging percentage and a 199 weighted runs created plus, signifying that he’s been nearly 100% better than a league average hitter.
He’s even managed to decrease his strikeout rate; throughout his career Judge has struck out in 29.4% of his at bats, dropping to 25.8% this year.
Despite the significantly deadened ball Major League Baseball rolled out, Judge has accumulated 22 home runs in only 54 games, a 65 home run pace over a full 162 game schedule.
An astonishing 38% of Judge’s fly balls have become home runs, and even more impressively, he’s hitting the ball harder than essentially everyone in the league. His Statcast rankings are exceptional; 98th percentile in max exit velocity, 99th percentile in hard hit percentage, 100th percentile in average exit velocity and 100th percentile in barrel rate.
While MLB records list Barry Bonds as the all time single season home run leader with 73, many baseball fans have diminished Bonds’ record and the late 90’s single year totals of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa due to their association with steroids.
Roger Maris on the other hand, faces no such controversy regarding his 61 home runs for the 1961 New York Yankees.
While there’s a long road ahead for Judge to exceed that historic number, a New York Post report quoted Roger Maris Jr. saying he would be “very happy” if Judge is able to sustain his success for the rest of the season.
Maris Jr. treats his dad’s 61 homers as the “real” MLB record, so Judge exceeding it, in his estimation, would continue the long-running trend of Yankees players breaking the single season record:
You don’t want to see dad’s record go, but if it happened, I can’t think of a better guy to do it. He’s a great Yankee. To do it in New York, how cool would that be? First we had [Babe] Ruth, then we had dad, and then to have Judge, that would be pretty awesome. I can’t think of a better storyline.”
It’s hard to blame Roger Maris Jr. for celebrating his dad’s achievements, and it’s great to see his support for Judge potentially exceeding that historic number. If Judge does break the “record,” it would rightfully be considered a tremendous accomplishment that would generate national interest, but considering him the “actual” home run leader is a bridge too far.
If nothing else though, it adds yet another reason to pay attention to Aaron Judge’s tremendous start to the year.