SI:AM | Aaron Judge Truly Cannot Be Stopped

He’s in the midst of a historic hot streak.
Judge (right) is putting up all-time numbers once again.
Judge (right) is putting up all-time numbers once again. / Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. I’m completely in awe of what Aaron Judge has done over the past five weeks.

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On May 4, I sat in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium and looked on with bewilderment as I witnessed something I had never seen before. Aaron Judge, the New York Yankees’ usually mild-mannered captain, took issue with a called third strike by home plate umpire Ryan Blakney, barked something at the ump and was ejected. After getting tossed, Judge got right up in Blakney’s face, acting more aggressively than I’d ever seen him in his nine years in pinstripes. It was the first ejection of Judge’s career.

It made sense that Judge would let his frustrations boil over. He was mired in a terrible slump to start the season, batting .209 with a .743 OPS and just six home runs in 35 games. It was fair to wonder if, at age 32 and coming off a toe injury that Judge had said would require “constant maintenance,” he was starting to decline.

So much for that. Since his ejection, Judge is on a hot streak of historic proportions. Over his last 33 games, he has hit 19 home runs with an eye-popping triple slash line of .421/.541/1.061. He’s the only player in MLB history with 19 home runs and at least a .420 batting average in a 33-game span.

Judge now leads the majors in all of the following statistical categories:

  • WAR (5.2)
  • Home runs (25)
  • RBIs (62, tied with José Ramírez)
  • On-base percentage (.437)
  • Slugging percentage (.712)
  • OPS (1.149)
  • Total bases (173)
  • Walks (55)
  • Extra-base hits (47)

Judge continued his hot streak on Tuesday night, going 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs in the Yankees’ 10–1 win over the Kansas City Royals. New York is now 26–8 since Judge’s ejection on May 4 and has the best record in the league this season at 48–21.

Judge has long been one of the most feared hitters in the majors, but he’s taken his game to a new level this year. His on-base percentage and slugging percentage are both higher than he’s posted in any season in his career, and he’s also striking out less than he ever has (in 24.1% of his plate appearances).

What makes Judge’s power display even more impressive is that he’s doing it at a time when offense is down across the league. There have been an average of 1.03 home runs per team per game this season, down from 1.21 last season. That’s the lowest rate since 2015 (1.01). That’s nothing new for Judge, though. When he hit his AL-record 62 home runs in ’22, teams averaged just 1.07 homers per game, down significantly from the 1.30 they averaged in the previous three seasons. That just goes to show how elite Judge’s power is. While other players’ offensive output is subject to changes in the offensive environment (including potential changes to the composition of the baseball), Judge has the strength and skill to send the ball over the wall with remarkable consistency.

If Judge keeps up his torrid pace, he has a chance to have a truly historic year. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that he could break his own AL record for home runs in a season. He’s currently on pace for 58 homers. Judge, though, was his typical humble self after his big game Tuesday, refusing to dwell on his accomplishments too much.

“I try not to look up [at my stats], even when I’m hitting .150, I try not to look up there,” Judge said. “I try to look at [Juan] Soto’s stats while I’m up there to feel good about myself. … It’s still early in the season; I’m just trying to put together good at-bats. We are facing some tough teams with some great pitching staffs.”

Dec 28, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Jets’ Aaron Rodgers stands on the sidelines in game vs. Browns.
Rodgers will not attend Jets mandatory minicamp. / Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

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The top five…

… things I saw last night:

5. Scottie Scheffler’s response to a kid asking a question in his press conference.
4. Marlins prospect Troy Johnston’s unique bat flip.
3. Reds prospect Noelvi Marte’s quick reaction to get the out on a ball that bounced off the pitcher’s foot.
2. Japanese phenom Rintaro Sasaki’s first home run in the United States. Sasaki hit a record 140 home runs in high school in Japan and chose to play college baseball at Stanford rather than play professionally in Japan so that he could get to the major leagues faster. Sasaki will begin playing for the Cardinal next season. But first, he’s playing for the Trenton Thunder of the MLB Draft League (a showcase league for college players).
1. The Dodgers’ four home runs in the sixth inning of their win over the Rangers.


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Dan Gartland

DAN GARTLAND

Dan Gartland is the writer and editor of Sports Illustrated’s flagship daily newsletter, SI:AM, covering everything an educated sports fan needs to know. Previously published on Deadspin and Slate, Dan also is a former Sports Jeopardy! champion (Season 1, Episode 5).