AP Photo/Adam Hunger
Be it today, tomorrow or any day between now and the finish of the 2022 season, it’s likely that that Aaron Judge will probably break the American League single-season home run record. When it happens, it’ll rightfully be observed as a problem.
For the time being, let’s not lose sight of another big-deal-type things Judge does.
His quest for Roger Maris’ 61 home runs from 1961 is only his most visible conquest, and also the one that’s closest to completion. The 6’7″, 282-pounder out of Linden, California, didn’t increase his total Monday, but only because he and the brand new York Yankees had your day off. As though looking for something to carry him over, he hit his 58th and 59th homers Sunday.
Therefore, that is where the 30-year-old Judge has been 16 games to go. He’s on pace for 65 long balls, essentially implying that only an ill-fated injury or perhaps a power outage famous brands which he’s rarely experienced will keep him from at the very least tying Maris. Even yet another would secure only the ninth 60-homer season in Major League Baseball history.
Yet even though the highly unlikely chance for Judge falling lacking 60 comes true, his 2022 season nonetheless stands to loom large in the history of MLB history.
He Doesn’t Need 60 to create Home Run History
AP Photo/Noah K. Murray
Yeah, yeah. Sixty is really a nice, round number and all, however the 59 home runs that Judge has are sufficient by themselves to place him firmly in “No Slouch” territory.
These 59 homers put him in a tie for ninth-most in one season is good, but we are able to do better by noting that they are the sixth-most by way of a right-handed hitter. On top of that? They’re probably the most by an American League right-handed hitter, a front which he surpassed Jimmie Foxx (1932) and Hank Greenberg (1938) on Sunday.
From here, we are able to enter how Judge’s 11 multi-homer games are tied with Greenberg (’38) and Sammy Sosa (1998) for MLB’s single-season record. And maybe into how little help he’s needed from the house run gods, as Statcast puts his expected output at 58.2.
Let’s be real, though. If there’s one statistic that basically gets at how dominant Judge has been this year, it’s the one which concerns just how many more home runs he’s got compared to the next guy on the leaderboard. That’s Philadelphia Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber with 39, a complete 20 home runs below Judge.
To the extent, Judge is wanting to achieve a thing that could previously only be connected with MLB’s O.G. home run hitter, Babe Ruth. He achieved a 20-plus-homer lead on the next-best slugger four times through the 1920s, lately in 1928.
That is to say that when Judge hangs to his lead over Schwarber, he’ll have pulled off a house run feat that baseball hasn’t observed in nearly a hundred years.
Odds, Ends and Triple Crown(s)
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Ah, but there’s more to offensive production than simply hitting home runs. A lot more, actually, that it really is possible to create even Judge’s 2022 season appear to be a ho-hum affair.
Take batting runs, which measures just how much better or worse than average a batter was in confirmed season. Ruth in 1921 and Barry Bonds in 2001 are at the top at 116, while Judge is…wow, outside the very best 40 at 75. Runs created is even less kind, also putting Ruth in ’21 and Bonds in ’01 at the top, but leaving Judge outside the very best 100.
So, those ideas exist. So when arguments contrary to the all-time-ness of Judge’s ongoing offensive onslaught, they’re not totally invalid.
Yet, they feel just a little weaksauce close to, well, this:
Even putting away the house runs for an instant, Judge’s other counting stats are kinda absurd. He’s currently only the 43rd player to ever set up 120-plus runs and RBI, 360-plus total bases and 80-plus extra-base hits in a season. Should he reach, say, 130, 130, 380 and 90, suddenly he’ll be on an inventory with only 17 other players.
Likewise, rate stats like his don’t usually go together either. The last time a professional hitter had both an on-base percentage over .400 and a slugging percentage over .700 in a season was Bonds in 2004. In the American League? Mark McGwire in 1996.
If you simply get back to Jim Thome in 2002 to get the final time an AL hitter had an OPS of at the very least 1.100, it certainly ought to be Judge’s 213 OPS+ pictured for the reason that tweet. To become more than 110 percent much better than the common hitter in confirmed season isn’t a standard thing among AL hitters. As of this moment, it’s only Judge and five others for the reason that club.
Now, only if Judge’s .316 batting average had but yet another point onto it. If it did, he’d be free from a tie with Xander Bogaerts for second place behind with Luis Arrez among AL hitters. And therefore, he’d maintain position to claim the Triple Crowns.
Yes, both of these.
There’s the normal one which counts average, home runs and RBI, and there’s the triple-slash one which counts average, on-base and slugging percentage. Whereas Judge will be the first since Miguel Cabrera in 2012 to claim the former, he could become only the ninth hitter (h/t Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs) to claim both, and the initial since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Whether Judge can finish the work is ultimately a matter of whether he is able to avoid cool down. His .491 average for September puts him through to everyone, including Bogaerts and Arrez:
Graph via Google Sheets
Along with his monthly strikeout rate right down to a season-low 22.5 percent, Judge is helping himself by putting more balls in play. That is good, because he’s hitting undoubtedly a league-best .452 when he makes contact on a pitch.
Quite simply: Yeah, his dual Triple Crown chase may be the real deal.
He’s Making ALL OF THIS Count
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Despite having Judge closing in on Maris rather than one, but two Triple Crowns, it’s no small testament to Shohei Ohtani that there surely is still a debate going on about who truly deserves the American League MVP for 2022.
It’s indeed a good someone to the extent that, unlike Ohtani, Judge isn’t both a top-five hitter and a top-five pitcher in the AL. He also offers an inferior lead on Ohtani in rWAR (9.5 to 9 8.7) than he does in fWAR (10.4 to 8.7), and there’s one more debate about whether WAR can adequately measure just how much Ohtani truly matters to the LA Angels.
By that same token, though, it should be fair to ask whether WAR can be underrating Judge.
It matters never to WAR that the 88-58 Yankees are playoff-bound as the 64-83 Angels have been eliminated from playoff contention on Monday. The unspoken implication there’s that when Judge and Ohtani were to swap places, the Yankees would be good and the Angels would be bad. In the abstract, it’s hard to argue with that.
Yet to take this stance is usually to be overly flippant about how exactly Judge has been mixed up in Yankees’ success not only abstractly, but often quite directly.
This, too, could be quantified, including through simple things such as New York’s records when Judge drives in a run (47-18) or hits a house run (37-11). Further, he’s got OPSes over 1.000 in high-leverage spots and late and close situations. Further still, his more specific feats include nine game-tying and 23 go-ahead knocks, including four walk-offs.
Whereas WAR cares not for clutch acts like these, other stats do. Probably the most easily explained of the bunch is win probability added, which measures just how much a new player adds or subtracts to his team’s likelihood of winning at any given moment. The larger as soon as and the more he comes through, the higher.
Judge’s WPA for the growing season is just one more league-leading mark at 7.3. Even though that isn’t a historic figure in and of itself, he stands to become listed on elite all-time company when he inevitably pairs it with 10 rWAR. Only six AL hitters have ever gone there, and none since Yaz in ’67.
This can invariably come off as a tacit endorsement of Judge’s case for the AL MVP, which…well, OK, maybe it really is precisely that.
Yet it’s way more meant as a full-throated endorsement for Judge’s 2022 season to possess a invest the inner circle of MLB’s all-time seasons. Because regardless of how you consider it, it’s basically impossible to view it is really as something apart from truly special.