62! Aaron Judge now owns the all-time American League homer record


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.”)

4 thoughts on “62! Aaron Judge now owns the all-time American League homer record

  1. LMAO. My O’s-fan bud Chuck would have gigged me for not mentioning Gentile. All that pent-up energy from being blocked by Hodges and Norm Larker in the Dodger organization for half a dozen or so years. And in my first year as an Indians fan (moved to Ohio from LA that year), watching the Rock hit 45 for the unappreciative fans in Detroit – they were inexplicably pining away for Harvey Kuenn.

    1. Diamond Jim really tore in up in the minors – four consecutive 100-RBI seasons. I wonder why the Dodgers didn’t trade him earlier.

      He hit more than 400 homers in pro ball, but 245 of them were in the bushes.


      Colavito also had some mammoth seasons in the minors before the Indians found a spot for him.

      When I was a kid, some major leaguers played a short exhibition game in my native Rochester, and they also had some skill competitions before the game. I don’t remember the homer-hitting or base-running champions, but I clearly remember that Colavito “threw a homer” over the fence in left center from home plate to win the distance competition. I’m not sure how far that was, but the ball had to travel close to 400 feet.

  2. And Maris had two new expansion team staffs to pick on. Lot of prodigious hitting in the AL that year – Norm Cash and his .361, etc.
    Judge’s plate discipline really is impressive, particularly compared to when he came up. Like fellow behemoth Frank Howard, there was “a lot of strike zone to work with” (W. Ford). Not quite a 6’7″ Steven Kwan* but close enough.
    And Ohtani will have something Judge won’t. Some Cy Young votes.
    * Kwan had a nine-pitch AB Sunday where he went from 0-2 to a full count to a grand slam.

    1. Lost in the press frenzy about Mantle, Maris and Cash that year was one of the most remarkable seasons in baseball history.

      Diamond Jim Gentile hit five grand slams that year, including two consecutive at bats in one game. He knocked in as many runs as Maris (141), although Maris came to the plate 97 more times. Gentile batted .370 with runners in scoring position. No other man since the 19th century has knocked in that many runs in fewer than 490 at bats. Barry Bonds couldn’t even do it the year he hit 73 homers.

      (2001 Bonds and 1961 Gentile had nearly identical numbers in those two stats. Gentile had ten more at bats and four more RBI.)

      Of course, to be fair, grand slams are no fair basis for comparison. The likelihood of Maris coming to bat with the bases full, batting behind Kubek (.306 OBP), Richardson (.295 OBP) and the pitcher, was close to zero, He got only two chances all year to hit a salami, compared to 20 for Diamond Jim.

      Another interesting fact about 1961:

      For all their vaunted power – Mantle, Maris and four other guys with 20 homers or more – the Yankees did NOT lead the league in runs that year. They finished second behind the Tigers of Cash, Colavito and Kaline.

      (Neither did their pitching staff hold the opposition to the fewest runs. That honor went to the Orioles.)

Comments are closed.