Bomb Squad: Judge Should Pass McGwire For The Rookie HR Record

Mike Murphy

Baseball has witnessed the emergence of two Goliaths this season in the form of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Both sluggers have mystified the crowds by redefining what we thought was considered ‘moon-shot’ home runs.

Now, we all knew that Stanton was capable of reaching the 50-60 home run plateau, and he may very well reach 70 if he continues his record-setting pace.

But Judge is on another planet than Stanton. We have not seen a rookie tear up Major League pitching for an entire season since Mark McGwire in 1987. For all we know, McGwire could have been using banned substances that year also, but Judge appears to be the ‘real deal’.

It is extremely difficult to get away with taking banned substances like HGH or steroids now that the drug testing has become more strict. Aside from that Judge is a naturally large human-being, standing 6-foot-7 and weighing 282 pounds. His proportions are similar to that of Rob Gronkowski, the tight end for the New England Patriots – and that dude has some serious natural power.

On Sunday afternoon, Judge blasted home runs 40 and 41 against the Rangers down in Arlington. With those homers, Judge joins elite company in Yankees history becoming the fifth player to hit 40 home runs before the age of 25. The others on the list include: Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth – all are Hall of Famers and legends in Yankees history.

Is it possible for Judge to hit 50 home runs this season and pass McGwire’s single-season rookie home run record of 49? The answer is a simple ‘yes’.

Now, the Yankees have only 20 games left in the regular season, so Judge will be pressed for time. The way he can reach that mark is if he can produce multi-HR games like he did on Sunday. He has four two-homer games this season.

Judge averages a home run every 11.8 at-bats, so with 20 games left and an average of 4.3 plate appearances per game Judge would be projected to hit seven home runs. Which would leave him one shy of McGwire’s record of 49.

Here’s why you ought to look past those numbers. Judge suffered at the plate during the month of August, hitting .185 with three home runs in 27 games (116 plate appearances). That month alone is enough to inflate his home runs per at-bat statistic to 11.8.

Judge took a complete 180 when the calendar flipped to September. He has surpassed his August home run total in just nine games – hitting four so far this month. His HR per at-bat in the new month is eight home runs per at-bat.

Plug that number eight into the equation above and he would end up with 10 home runs in the last 20 games of the season…if he can keep up his current pace.

Back in 1987, McGwire entered the month of September having hit three home runs in August and struggled at the plate hitting .212 – similar to Judge. McGwire bounced back in September by hitting .351 with nine home runs. Maybe it’s just the dog days of summer that got the best of both sluggers.

With or without the numbers, Judge has an excellent shot at making history by the end of this month. The question may not be if, but rather when will he surpass No. 49?

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