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Aaron Judge home run record chase: Tracking the Yankees’ stars road to 62

aaron judge, new york yankees
Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge has officially placed himself among the best home run hitters of all time. Yet, not only did he take ownership of the American League record for homers in a single season when he broke the mark of 62 on Oct. 4, but he is now among the immortals in the Yankees’ storied history because he surpassed a team legend in Roger Maris to become the AL home run king.

  • Aaron Judge stats (2022): .311 AVG, 62 HR, 131 RBI, 133 R, 16 SB

Judge’s chase for the team’s legendary record was one of the biggest stories in baseball during the 2022 regular season, even though the all-time mark of 73 set by Barry Bonds was never in range. That speaks to the brand appeal of the Yankees and the questions many have about Bonds and many other players in front of Judge on the single-season list.

Related: New York Yankees schedule, TV info

With Judge now at the top of the AL record books, let’s take a look at the All-Star’s historic run to 62 home runs during the 2022 season.

Aaron Judge’s five-month journey to 50 home runs

aaron judge, new york yankees
Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

In April, New York fans knew they had an elite home run hitter on their roster but they had no idea history was about to begin. The biggest story at the time was the fact that the Yankees and Judge could not come to terms on a new long-term extension during spring training. The narrative quickly changed as the 30-year-old got off to a strong start in the opening month of the season and smacked six homers to kick off the team’s 2022 campaign.

However, the former first-round pick topped that with what would be his second-best home run month of the seeing when he sent a dozen opposing pitches over the bleachers in May. Not only did he do that, but he also drove in 25 runs and helped to push the Yankees into first place. A spot they have held onto the entire season.

MonthHome Run AmountRuns Batted In
May 1225
July 1332

By June, when Judge slammed in another 11 dingers and drove in 21 more, the Yankees fanbase and the baseball world knew at the very least that there looked to be a legitimate MVP candidate playing in the Bronx. But July told a very different and contrasting story for the center fielder and the organization. Despite having his best home run (13) and RBI (32) months of the season, the Yankees started to show signs that their dominance in 2022 was at an end as they started to slump.

In August, the squad had by far their worst showing as their once unbelievable double-digit lead in the division slipped to single-digits and all of a sudden teams like the Tampa Bay Rays were actually a threat in the AL East. Unsurprisingly, along with the Yankees’ slump in the month, Judge delivered his lowest home run total of nine. However, the one silver lining to a miserable August was the fact that Judge ended it with over 50 homers. A stat that has only been achieved 43 times and by just 27 players in MLB history.

Judge’s September to remember and reaching 62

aaron judge, new york yankees
Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Hitting 50 is a special number in baseball lore, but getting to 60 and above puts an athlete in a special place with the home run-hitting immortals. On Sept. 3, Aaron Judge entered the team’s matchup with the second-place Rays with 51 slams. He added to the number when he deposited a 100 MPH pitch over 392 feet into the Yankee stadium stands in the team’s 2-1 loss. Let’s take a look at Judge’s historic pace at that moment compared to other MLB legends at that point of the season.

Through 133 games:

  • 2001 Barry Bonds: 56
  • 1998 Mark McGwire: 54
  • 1961 Roger Maris: 51
  • 1927 Babe Ruth: 47

The 6-foot-7 slugger would hit home runs in the next three games — including a 450-foot bomb — to reach 55 HRs through 136 games. The total had well surpassed his previous career high of 52 that he hit in his sophomore season in 2017, which was also the first year he earned All-Star honors.

Through 136 games:

  • 2001 Barry Bonds: 57
  • 1998 Mark McGwire: 54
  • 1961 Roger Maris: 53
  • 1927 Babe Ruth: 49

However, that wild power surge would be followed by a lull of four games where he hit no home runs. That quiet spell ended when he added to his total and closed in on Roger Maris as he took pitches deep in consecutive games to reach 57 home runs by 142. An impressive number that outpaced Maris by two and Yankees icon Babe Ruth’s 1927 season but five. However, it put him well behind Bonds and McGwire’s 60 that each had through that many games.

On Sept. 18, Judge would close in on the magical 60 when he hit home runs 58 and 59 on the same night where he also knocked in four RBIs.

Two days later, Judge joined the immortals of baseball by becoming the third fastest player to his 60 home runs in a season when he took a pitch from Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Wil Crowe to left field to reach 60 in the team’s comeback win that evening. It is an amount only five other players in baseball history have ever reached and took him to within one homer of the Yankees team record.

Through 147 games:

  • 2001 Barry Bonds: 64
  • 1998 Mark McGwire: 62
  • 1961 Roger Maris: 56
  • 1927 Babe Ruth: 54

Chasing Maris and more

Heading into the Yankees’ matchup with the Toronto Blue Jays on Sept. 28, Judge needed just one more shot to the outfield stands to tie Maris. He finally achieved what no other Yankees player has and matched the legendary team record with a two-run shot that broke up a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning of a game they would go on to win.

Then after a few days of missed opportunities, the legendary moment would come on Oct. 4 when the New York superstar opened up a game versus the Texas Rangers with the record-shattering shot to left field and actually sent the Texas fans into a frenzy.

That would be Judge’s final home run of the season and while he is the single-season king for dingers in the AL, Judge is only seventh on the all-time list for both leagues. Finish behind the likes of the aforementioned Bonds, St. Louis Carindals great Mark McGwire, and Chicago Cubs legend Sammy Sosa.

All-time single-season home run leaders:

  • Barry Bonds, 73, 2001
  • Mark McGwire, 70, 1998
  • Sammy Sosa, 66, 1998
  • Mark McGwire, 65, 1999
  • Sammy Sosa, 64, 2001
  • Sammy Sosa, 63, 1999
  • Aaron Judge, 62, 2022
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