We love all types of home runs, but Aaron Judge home runs? Those feel a little extra special. That’s certainly the case when discussing his 2017 and 2022 campaigns in particular. Judge has made his mark in Yankees history by having his name on the single-season and career home run leaderboards. His 2022 performance is also among the most powerful seasons in MLB history.
With that in mind, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and remember how he’s gotten himself to 200-plus dingers in such a short period of time.
Aaron Judge Home Runs: 2016-19
2016: 4 Home Runs
Judge made his MLB debut on August 13th, 2016 for the Yankees. His first taste of big-league pitching was a learning experience, to say the least. He did collect his first four career home runs that season, but the rest of his production wasn’t too great.
Those homers came with a -0.2 fWAR, 62 wRC+, and a 44.5% strikeout rate. Two of Judge’s homers came in his first two games with the Yankees. Those took place in the Bronx against the Tampa Bay Rays. Then, of course, he slugged just two more over his final 25 games.
Don’t worry — things got better. Much better.
2017: 52 Homers
See? I told you things would get better. Judge took the lessons he learned in that cup of coffee in the bigs the year prior and put everything into practice during his AL Rookie of the Year campaign. He also finished second to Jose Altuve in AL MVP voting.
Those 52 homers not only led the league in 2017, but it also broke Mark McGwire‘s MLB rookie home run record. Those honors belong to Pete Alonso now, but Judge will forever be able to say he was the first MLB rookie to ever record a 50-homer season. That’s definitely something.
The burly right-handed hitter got himself off to another hot start. But this time, he sustained it throughout the entire first half. Heading into the All-Star Game, Judge had already slugged 30 dingers while posting a .329/.448/.691 line. This stretch included two months of double-digit home runs (10 in April and 10 in June).
Even after winning the Home Run Derby in Miami, Judge couldn’t bust out of a two-month swoon at the plate. Between July and August, he combined to hit .207/.359/.402 with 10 home runs and 20 RBI in 223 plate appearances.
With the rookie home run record in his sights, though, he turned it on and finished with a flourish in September. His 1.352 OPS, 15 homers, seven doubles, and 32 RBI were the best of any month.
2018: 27 Home runs
How do you follow up a historic rookie season like the one Judge put together? After posting 8.8 fWAR in 2017, the outfielder followed it up with a 5.3-fWAR performance despite appearing in just 112 games. His home-run pace took a bit of a dive, as his ISO went from .343 to .249, but hey, keeping a 50-homer-per-year pace is hard.
All but 13 of Judge’s games played came between April and July, and his performance was mostly consistent. He posted a monthly OPS of at least .960 in three of four opportunities, all while slugging five-plus homers in each month.
There were two similarities when comparing this campaign to his rookie year, though. Once again, Judge got his season off to a fast start. In 128 plate appearances between March and April, he slashed .317/.453/.584 with seven home runs and 18 RBI.
The other similarity was his propensity for hitting home runs at Yankee Stadium. After slugging 33 of his 52 home runs in the Bronx the year before, Judge slugged 18 of his 27 dingers in front of the home fans.
2019: 27 Home runs
The 2019 season was yet another solid performance for Judge. He accumulated 4.5 fWAR with a 141 wRC+ and those 27 homers. The problem was that he once again couldn’t stay on the field at the same rate as 2017. Judge appeared in just 102 games, accumulating 447 plate appearances.
This was the season those above similarities stopped for the time being. Judge instead hit 18 of his 27 homers on the road, and since he missed time prior to the All-Star break, most of his power production came in the second half.
Finally getting healthy and being on the field consistently helped him get in a groove to finish the year strong. On the morning of August 1st, Judge had 11 homers. He used the final two months to slug 16 homers with 27 RBI in 217 trips to the plate.
Aaron Judge Home Runs: 2020-22
2020: 9 Homers
It’s not an exaggeration when I say 2020 was weird for everybody. It was great that MLB still had a season, even if it was only 60 games. Judge appeared in just 28 of them, and when looking at his monthly splits, his performance landed on two different ends of the spectrum.
July consisted of just 27 plate appearances. However, Judge still slugged three homers and posted a .974 OPS. Those good feelings kept going into August. He slugged six more homers with 12 RBI while slashing .317/.364/.781 in 44 plate appearances. But during his final 43 trips to the plate in September, he was a completely different hitter. This included no dingers, two RBI, and a .548 OPS.
2021: 39 Home Runs
It took him a few years, but Judge broke through that invisible 27-homer barrier for his most powerful season since 2017. More importantly, though, it was his healthiest. The outfielder racked up 633 plate appearances while appearing in 148 games.
Judge hitting home runs at an above-average pace when all things are equal is never really a question. Like his teammate, Giancarlo Stanton, it’s just a matter of how much opportunity he’s getting.
Once again, Judge slugged more homers on the road (24) than he did at home (15). Surprisingly enough, he was just a much better overall hitter away from Yankee Stadium. He drove in a lot more runs (57 vs. 41) and had a much higher OPS (1.019 vs. .810) as a visiting player in nearly an identical number of plate appearances.
His monthly homer production went on a roller coaster ride, and he finished at the top. After slugging seven in March/April, it went down in each of the following three months (six in May, five in June, three in July). But then he started climbing back up to the top with eight in August before finishing with 10 in September.
2022: 57 Homers (…and counting)
What else is there to say about Judge’s 2022 performance that already hasn’t been said? It’s been…ridiculous. His 33 home runs in the first half are among the most ever before the All-Star break, and it was partially powered by a ridiculous three-month stretch between May and July.
During this 357-plate-appearance sample, Judge slashed .298/.388/.689 with 36 homers, 78 RBI, and 73 runs scored. That’s a great year for many players, but that was just half of his 2022 performance. He didn’t hit fewer than 11 homers in any of those three months, either.
But it’s not like his August performance was anything to scoff at. Although Judge didn’t get to double-digit homers, he came close (nine) while posting a 1.091 OPS. At the time of this initial writing, his September is off to another fruitful start. As we’ve seen throughout this walk down memory lane, the regular season’s final month tends to be a good one for Judge.
When will he break Roger Maris‘ single-season Yankees record? How close will he get to 70? We’ll update this article as he continues his march toward history with one of the most powerful seasons in baseball history.