All Rise: Aaron Judge Stands Alone With The Rookie Record For Home Runs

All rise and salute the Judge, the Yankees Aaron Judge, for surpassing Mark McGwire’s rookie single-season record of 49 home runs when he crushed his 49th and 50th homers on Monday afternoon.

Earlier this month, we highlighted Judge and made the prediction that he would break McGwire’s home run record. It was doubtful that Judge could reach 50 homers after his poor month of August where he only hit .185 with three home runs. Heading into the final month of the season Judge had 37 home runs and would need to have his most powerful month at the plate to set the new record – the highest amount of homers he hit in a month was 10 (April and June).

In 1987, McGwire was in a similar situation as Judge. He too hit a slump during the dog-days of August when he only belted out three home runs and batted .212. But in September he bounced back with his best average at the plate all season, hitting .351. During that month he would hit nine more home runs and set the record at 49.

When we highlighted Judge on September 11th, he had just hit home runs 40 and 41 against the Rangers. At the time the Yankees had 20 games remaining on the schedule and Judge was on pace to hit exactly 49 home runs if he continued the pace of hitting a home run every 11.8 plate appearances.

If he were to maintain that pace, he would need to have a couple games with multiple home runs. Which is exactly what happened. He recorded multi-home run games on Sept. 14 against Baltimore, Sept. 24 against Toronto, and two more on Monday against Kanas City.

Those three multi-homer games put him well ahead of schedule when we projected his stats. So the only question remaining is how many more home runs can he hit before the season ends on Oct. 1st?

The guy is hitting a home run every 5.8 at-bats in the month of September and averages 3.4 at-bats per game. Since the Yankees have six games left, it is possible to see Judge end up with 53-55 home runs. This is assuming he gets three at-bats per contest and continues the pace of a home run every 5.8 at-bats.

It’s fun to ponder whether Judge would be in a race to 60 homers with his National League counterpart Giancarlo Stanton had the rookie not hit a rough patch in August.

This 2017 season could be the first of many 50-plus home run seasons for Judge. But can he be a guy that could challenge Barry Bonds’ all-time home run record of 762?

At age 25, Judge would really need to hit the ball at an alarming rate to surpass 700 career home runs. He would need to hit 45 home runs per season for the next 15 years to surpass 700 home runs. Not even Hank Aaron, baseball’s most consistent hitters, could maintain that type of consistency in his later years.

We can bank on Judge getting close to 500 home runs if he continues to hit 35-plus a season for the next 15 years – a number that is more realistic as the slugger creeps into his late-30’s.