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Aaron Judge and the case for 63 

When an emotional Patty Judge embraced Roger Maris Jr on the night of 20th September 2022 we knew we had all just witnessed something special. Aaron James Judge her son had just hit his 62 home run of an incredible record breaking season. Jesus Tinoco of the Texas Rangers will be forever linked to the other side of this record when his pitch was knocked out of Globe life field and a 61 year record owned by Roger Maris senior was broken. Judge’s name entered the history books as the best American League and clean home run season in Major League baseball history. After years of history had just been rewritten the fans were jubilant. Major stations were tuning into every Judge at bat just so the live feat could be seen by as many as possible. We had waited so long for this to happen but in an alternate universe have we just been robbed of seeing this record broken again, of course we will never know but there’s a great argument to look at to see if this could have been a possibility.

Let’s start by looking at that historic 2022 year if we look at the fundamentals taken from ESPN.CO.UK Aaron Judge hit 62 home runs in 157 games at first look that’s a home run every 2.53 games but baseball isn’t about individual games it’s a lot more analytical than that. During this year where Judge was pretty much fully healthy (let’s be honest, is a pro athlete ever always 100 percent healthy) he had 570 at bats (AB’s) that’s a home run every 9.19 AB’s. Looking at plate appearances it became abundant especially towards the end of the season most pitchers were more scared of being remembered on the other side of the record. Pitching to Judge became more and more selective in total Judge walked up to the plate 681 times in 2022 so he hit a home run every 10.98 times he approached the plate. Quite frankly a remarkable achievement.

Video Taken from MLB's YouTube channel


So the 2023 season starts Judge signs the new deal 360m dollars over 9 years to at a 40m AAV (Average Annual Value) and becomes the new Yankees captain the highest AAV to a position player in history and the first Yankees captain since Derek Jeter. It was always going to be hard to expect the same results after a record breaking year but it was sure intriguing to watch. Judge hit a home run on his first Yankee plate appearance as captain could the main event be followed by an even better encore?

The Judge 2023 season is divided into 2 parts. Pre and post injury at the Dodger stadium where Judge made an incredible catch while smashing through the bull pen. I made a spreadsheet of every Judge PA (Plate Appearance) of the 2023 season, this was the situation up to this point.

Before the injury Judge had played 49 games he sat at 175 AB’s 42 runs, 51 hits, 35 walks, 40 RBI’s and 19HR’s sitting at an average of .291 a great start to the follow up season. Judge was on the IL for 42 games after missing a few games earlier in the season, (after a strain from a dive stealing base earlier in the year) this was his most significant injury stint of the 2023 year.


He came back against the Baltimore Orioles on 28th July and straight away earned 3 walks was this a sign to come, the big question is are pitchers scared to pitch at Judge?

The answer was yes this was a carbon copy of the end of the 2022 season. Pitchers are scared to pitch at the most dangerous hitter in the AL and arguably the most feared hitter in all of MLB.


After the injury it was clear that Judge wasn’t 100 percent but for a guy not fighting on full gas his stats were still very respectable. After the injury Judge played 57 games his stats were as follows 192 AB’s, 37 runs, 47 hits, 53 walks, 3 RBI’s and 18 HR’s at an average of .244.


So let’s look at the home runs Judge hit before the injury he was hitting a HR every 9.21 AB and after the injury it was a HR every 10.66 AB. so throughout the season he hit a HR every 9.91 AB. This means if he had played the full season he would have been on pace to hit 65.3 HR’s based on a 4 PA day on average per game. Obviously this wouldn’t have been the case and players get rested/injured and walks are included every season but the fact a sample size including injury can even predict this is remarkable.


So let’s look a larger sample size without injury from the start of 2022 up until the injury at dodger stadium Judge made 745 AB’s and scored 81 HR’s that’s a HR pace of a HR every 9.19 AB’s which mean before the injury he was on a pretty much identical pace 9.21 vs 9.19. The fact the difference is so close, and the injury stats improved closer towards the end of the season indicates one of two things either Judge has significantly become less injured, or he had become a significantly better batter including the injury.


Over the course of 2 years Judge made 937 at bats and scored 99 home runs that’s a home run every 9.46 AB, quite frankly this insane considering we have had a half-fit Judge during at least one quarter of this time. I decided to look at whether there is a disparity between the quality of team he faced so I looked at the 2023 season opposition. Baseball is hard as teams always flitter between hot and cold so I decided to look at teams based on who reached the playoffs in the 2023 season.


Judge played 62 games against teams who made the 2023 playoffs and his stats registered as 211 AB’s, 38 runs, 51hits, 51 walks, 39 RBI’s and 20 HR’s. Against non-playoff teams his stats stand at 156 AB’s 41 runs, 47 hits, 37 walks, 36 RBI’s ad 17 HR’s. There isn’t a massive difference against better teams for Judge and if anything he seems to be more clutch against better teams/pitchers. Both 3 run multi home run games came against a team that did and didn’t reach the playoffs with the Diamondbacks and first the Nationals. He seems to be able to bat against any level of pitcher.


So what about the 2024 season and beyond if Judge stays healthy he has a real crack at 63. It can be argued there are probably 3 more years of prime Aaron Judge. In 2024 the Yankees will play only 76 games against teams that made the 2023 playoffs so only 46.9% of games will meet the so called better teams with theoretically better pitching. A big thing will be the support if the Yankees provide a scarier opposition the chances of the unintentional intentional walk will decrease. The loss of a clearly concussed Rizzo hurt the Yankees massively last season. With the off-season acquisition of a so far only rental Juan Soto a 123 potential of DJ LeMahieu Soto and Judge (when DJ recovers from injury) and a hopefully fully recovered Rizzo hitting cleanup this is as good a year as ever for Judge to do it. We won’t know if he will do it Baseball is a game of variables and statistics but if any year is possible to break the record again surely if he is fully fit 2024 is the year.

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