The Tuesday Discussion: Aaron Judge and Milestones
October 4, 2022
This week we asked our writers:
What did/do you find more compelling, Aaron Judge's chase for the Triple Crown or the Home Run record?
Here are their replies:
Cary Greene - I find Judge's pursuit of the Triple Crown to be a tiny bit more compelling, now that he's already tied Roger Maris. I think at this point, Judge is a longshot to win the Batting Title though, where as he might hit a few more home runs in the Texas series, so Yankees fans everywhere have multiple reasons to watch the last series of the season, despite the Yankees having already clinched!
Ed Botti - Both are incredibly fascinating and exciting to watch.
But, I find the Triple Crown chase a little more compelling. I have been anticipating the Home Run record since he hit #50 on August 29th. So I am not overly surprised that he was able to get #61.
The Triple Crown came more as a surprise to me, since he was hitting .294 on August 30, 10th in the league, while Arraez was hitting .319 leading the league.
It would be great if he can get that Triple Crown!!
James Vlietstra - At this point, there’s no way that Aaron Judge is going to challenge for the Major League single season home run record of 73.
He already, at the minimum, has clinched a tie for the franchise and American League record for home runs with 61. That is quite an accomplishment.
To potentially win the Triple Crown on top of that would be a nice cherry on top of an already historically significant season.
The problem he is facing is that he’s not getting a lot of hittable pitches and the Twins seem content to allow Arraez to win the batting title while sitting on the bench.
Regardless, it’s been a fun journey. Having the privilege to be able to watch Judge play day in and day out has been surreal. Now to add some more hardware to the trophy case, including MVP, Silver Slugger, World Series ring, WS MVP will truly be a season of a lifetime.
Paul Semendinger - Hitting 61 or 62 home runs is amazing. Winning the Triple Crown, for me, is even more amazing. Both are legendary accomplishments, but since the modern game began (circa 1920) the only players who have won the Triple Crown have been Hall of Famers (except for Miguel Cabrera who will be a Hall of Famer when eligible). A player can have a remarkable season and lead the league in batting or homers, or RBI's, but to lead in all three at the same time is a very special and very rare accomplishment. For Judge to win the batting title, he's going to have to accumulate a ton of hits over the last four games - he'll need to be consistently good. To reach 62 home runs, he just needs one more good swing. It's been great watching it all, but I am finding the Triple Crown chase to be more compelling.
Tim Kabel - I am slightly more intrigued by Aaron Judge’s chase for the home run record. The Triple Crown is a very rare feat but, to break the record that has been in place for 61 years is extremely special.
Ethan Semendinger - Over the course of the history of the MLB, a player has hit 60+ home runs just 9 times. This 9 times figure includes once by Babe Ruth, once by Roger Maris, once by Aaron Judge, once by Barry Bonds, twice by Mark McGwire, and 3 times by Sammy Sosa. Regardless of how you feel about players using steroids, we can universally agree that those later 3 players do have question marks about how "natural" their home run collecting was.
Alternatively, over the course of the history of the MLB, a player has won the triple crown just 17 times (this does not include Tip O'Neill doing so in 1887 in the American Association).
Ultimately, it would seem that the achievement that has been done fewer times in history would also be the more interesting chase to watch, though I'd argue against the home runs. It's something we've seen challenged before and much more recently when Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 in 2017 (though, Miguel Cabrera's 2012 triple crown is also in recent memory). And- arguably more importantly- Aaron Judge's home run chase has been a constant talking point by baseball and the baseball press for MONTHS now. We know he's chasing Ruth/Maris/the AL record. We've known for a while now.
However, it was only up until a few weeks ago that the media started to look at the numbers (helped a ton by Judge's .417 batting average in September of 2022) and realize that he has/had a legitimate shot at the triple crown. Combined with the allure of being an "all-around hitter" instead of someone who just plays for the long-ball, the lack of constant media attention to it, and the much more strong history surrounding the triple crown, I find it much more intriguing to follow.