Here’s what I wrote when he hit #61
Judge is one level-headed dude. He earned that record. He’s surrounded by a bunch of guys hitting less than .230.
On the other hand, the AL pitchers of 1961 couldn’t afford to pitch too carefully around Maris. He had four great hitters behind him – three MVPs (Berra, Mantle, Howard) and Moose Skowron, who hit 28 homers of his own that year. The details:
- Maris faced a lot of minor league pitching in 1961 because it was an expansion year. About 20% of those pitchers would have been in triple A if the league had the 1960 configuration in 1961.
- Maris received a grand total of zero intentional walks that year. Judge has been awarded 18.
- Maris came to the plate 157 times with runners in scoring position, and drew only 19 walks. Judge has had about the same number of opportunities (151), but was walked 40 times (18 intentional).
- Weirdly enough, Maris came to the plate with runners on second and third 20 times and received no intentional walks in those situations, and only one unintentional walk. (Walk rate: 5%) Judge has had only 12 such plate appearances, and three of those resulted in intentional walks, with one more unintentional free pass. (Walk rate: 33%)
- In seven of Maris’s “second and third” appearances, there was only one out – an obvious situation to walk a guy in the process of setting the all-time home run record, since it simultaneously avoids his bat and sets up the double play. No dice. They pitched to him all seven times rather than face Mickey with the bases juiced. In contrast, Judge had six chances in that situation, and was intentionally walked three of those times. Only three? Yeah, go figure. The other three pitchers or managers were obviously daft, since Judge took two of them deep, giving him a nifty 3.500 OPS in that situation.
RELATED: As of Wednesday morning, Judge has 694 plate appearances. Maris had 698 in 1961, and didn’t hit #61 until the very last game of the year, which was #163 in a 162-game schedule! (One game was rained out while tied. The stats counted since it went enough innings to be “official.”)