In 1936, a New York Yankees’ rookie by the name of Joe DiMaggio hit 29 home runs. It was the highest number of home runs ever hit by a rookie for the New York Yankees in a single season. That record was tied Wednesday by a kid named Aaron Judge.
The record somewhat surprisingly, especially for a team that has had as many high-powered stars as the Yankees, lasted 8o seasons; well 80 seasons and 83 games actually.
On Wednesday in the Bronx, Aaron Judge hit his 29th home run at the new Yankees Stadium in just the Yankees’ 83rd game. DiMaggio hit his 29th and Yankees’ record making home run at the home of the St. Louis Browns in his 128th game of the 1936 MLB season.
Aaron Judge is also a rookie, meaning he has accomplished in just barely over a half of the baseball season, what Joe DiMaggio accomplished in an entire season.
DiMaggio took 128 games to hit his 29 home runs and played in 138 games in his rookie season when teams still played the 154-game schedule that was kept in place until Major League Baseball began the expansion in 1961.
He began the 1936 season with the Yankees on the disabled list, making his MLB debut on May 3, 1936. He was just 21 years old.
Judge, on the other hand, is 25 years old. He is the same age as arguably the best player in the major leagues, Mike Trout. Trout, who debuted for the Los Angeles Angels at age 19, is a bit more like a modern Joe DiMaggio than Judge.
Still, there is no undermining what Judge has done so far in 2017, even if he is all of 25 years of age.
Judge is currently leading the entire league, not only in home runs (29), but also runs scored (74), RBI (65), walks (59), on-base percentage (.449), slugging percentage (.697), on-base plus slugging percentage (1.145) and total bases (202).
Judge was also voted by the fans to start at first base in the 2017 MLB All-Star Game next week. He led all players in the fan voting.
Oh, and he’s hitting a mere.321 at the plate. While it may not lead the league, it puts him up there with some very elite hitters.
Many power hitters often lead the league in numbers such as strikeouts and have low batting averages, but Judge, like Trout and DiMaggio before him, defies those numbers. All three maintain(ed) high batting averages and low strikeout rates while still hitting for power.
In fact, only two other players in MLB history have actually hit for 29 or more home runs prior to the All-Star break. Mark McGwire hit 33 for the Oakland Athletics in 1987, and Jose Abreu hit 30 for the Chicago White Sox in 2014.
What Judge is done is extremely rare. What will be truly interesting is to see where he goes from here.
Will he drop off in the second half of a season while he’s currently in the running to win not only the American League Rookie of the Year Award, but also possibly the American League MVP Award or will his torrid season continue? Will Judge eventually hit a sophomore slump in 2018 and never return to glory or will he become a legend like DiMaggio?
All of that remains to be seen, however. Judge’s insanely strong start to the 2017 season, his Giancarlo Stanton-like 6’7″ 282-pound physique, and his low strikeout rate lend themselves to the standout rookie being a big name and being around for a long time in Major League Baseball.
[Featured Image by Bob Levey/Getty Images]