Sixty is nifty
As Aaron Judge joins one elusive club, he's aiming to join another.
Only six players in MLB history have hit 60 or more home runs in a season.
With a ninth inning blast Tuesday against the Pirates, Aaron Judge has joined the elusive club.
The conversation around 60 has centered on lots of factors, including the steroids era and the "true" recordholder (I'll save you the time, it's Bonds).
Seasons like this one don’t come around very often. It took 34 years for Maris to pass Ruth, and 37 years for McGwire and Sosa to pass Maris, and after Bonds slugged 73 home runs in 2001, it's now been 21 years before someone else reached 60.
My book Playing Through the Pain: Ken Caminiti and the Steroids Confession That Changed Baseball Forever is available wherever books are sold.
We're watching history with every new at-bat.
No, Judge's march to 60 doesn't have the all-encompassing pop culture resonance of the 1998 home run chase. The fragmenting of viewership and rise of social media mean we watch baseball differently today. There is also less wide-eyed optimism, less gullibility, less hero worship.
Each era of baseball is different. Babe Ruth is the home run champion of the pre-integration era, and Roger Maris is the home run champion of the expansion era, and Barry Bonds is the home run champion of the steroids era, and Aaron Judge is the home run champion of the current era.
It's not yet clear how we will define the current era. The pre-integration era was first considered the live-ball era. The steroids era was initially classified as the Wild Card era, which seems apt in retrospect, given all of the pharmaceutical-aided randomness.
What is this current era's theme? The Statcast Era? The garbage can era? The rules era? The Manfred era? The gunk era? The new dead ball era?
The post-steroids era? Let's not get ahead of ourselves on that one...
However this era is defined, Judge has put together the finest single-season power display of the past 20 years. And now he's gunning for the triple crown, too, something only one player (Miguel Cabrera) has done since 1967.
Of the players to reach 60 home runs in a season, none has ever simultaneously led the league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. Ruth finished seventh in the league in batting average in 1927, while Maris batted a pedestrian .269 in 1961. During their 60-homer seasons, Sosa and McGwire split the league lead for homers and runs batted in and were nowhere close to the battling title. Bonds in 2001 was far off the pace for ribbies and batting average.
Judge is authoring the most complete 60-homer season.
How many will he hit? Will he win the triple crown? There are 19 games left in the regular season. The answers will come in time. For now, enjoy the show. We're bearing witness to history, again.