New York Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge achieved a major milestone this weekend. He became the second rookie in MLB history to reach the 40-homer threshold in a single season as he swatted his 40th and 41st home runs against the Texas Rangers on Sunday.
Milestone Weekend for Rookie Slugger Aaron Judge
Before the weekend began, Mark McGwire had sole ownership of the 40 home run realm when he accomplished the feat in 1987 with 49 big flies. Prior to the All-Star break in July, Judge was on pace to surpass McGwire’s record. But a mid-season slump prolonged this milestone day into the final month of the regular season.
Despite the setback, Judge prevailed. He etched himself into franchise history books as only the fifth Yankee to hit 40 or more home runs at or before the age of 25, joining the likes of Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.
In his postgame interview, Judge reflected on the momentous day.
“Never, as a kid, did I ever think I’d be in the same sentence as those guys, so it’s quite an honor. It’s pretty humbling,” he said according to MLB.com.
With 20 regular season games remaining for the Bronx Bombers, Judge is eight home runs shy of tying McGwire and nine short of surpassing him. Beating McGwire would render him the only player in MLB history with 50 big flies in their rookie campaign.
Perhaps the lesser-known accomplishment the Fresno State product achieved this weekend was the record for walks in a rookie season. Previously set by Les Fleming in 1942 with 106, Judge earned his 107th walk in the second inning Sunday.
While he will continue to set the mark for single season walks by a rookie, Judge’s quest toward home-run history will continue to be excessively scrutinized for the remainder of the season.
Only time will tell if Judge will rise to the occasion.
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