Aaron Judge launched his 61st home run of the year Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, tying Roger Maris' 61-year-old single-season records for both the American League and the New York Yankees. Judge had recently become the first player to clear the 60-homer threshold since 2001, when Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa each accomplished the feat.
To mark the occasion and to honor Judge's brilliant season (it's conceivable he might win the Triple Crown), we've decided to relive his year-long, one-person Home Run Derby by highlighting his 10 most memorable home runs this year. There's always room for disagreement when it comes to exercises of this nature, but we've attempted to curate a list that offers something for everyone: historic home runs, mammoth blasts, pivotal hits and balls that appear to move at the speed of light.
The home run is, in many respects, the great unifying religion of this game; come then, we say, and join hands as we kneel at the altar of the dinger.
1. No. 61: Judge matches Maris
Date: Sept. 28
Situation: Top of the seventh; tied; one runner on base
Opposing pitcher: Tim Mayza, Blue Jays
It took more than a week after Judge delivered his 60th home run, but he tied Maris with a blast to left field to break a tie. Statcast measured the exit velocity at greater than 117 mph, making it his hardest-hit home run of the year. Take a look:
2. No. 60: Judge ties Babe Ruth
Date: Sept. 20
Situation: Bottom of the ninth; down by four; no one on base
Opposing pitcher: Wil Crowe, Pirates
Judge was clearly sitting on a dead-red fastball after working the count to 3-1, and Crowe abided. To Judge's credit, he made it count, sending the ball deep into left-center field. This home run tied Judge with Babe Ruth for the second most in both Yankees and American League single-season history. It also began a comeback effort that saw Giancarlo Stanton cap the night with a thrilling walk-off grand slam.
3. No. 36: Longest of the year
Date: July 22
Situation: Top of the fifth; up by two; no one on base
Opposing pitcher: Tyler Wells, Orioles
Judge had already homered once earlier in this game, a three-run shot off Wells in the top of the third. For our money, this was the more memorable of the two home runs because it was (and continues to be) the longest of his season. Wells threw a 2-1 changeup that faded into Judge's swing plane. He got all of it, sending the ball an estimated 465 feet to left-center field, where it cleared both bullpens.
4. No. 10: The first walk-off
Date: May 10
Situation: Bottom of the ninth; down by two; two on base
Opposing pitcher: Jordan Romano, Blue Jays
This was the first of Judge's three walk-off home runs so far this season. He fell behind 1-2 in the count to Romano before feasting on a hanging slider. Judge knew it was gone off the bat and he took a few steps to admire it. A fan seated in the first row of the second deck made a nice snag to gain a souvenir. This win moved the Yankees to 21-8 on the young season. All of summer was waiting ahead. Times were good, man.
5. No. 28: So long, 'Stros
Date: June 26
Situation: Bottom of the 10th; tied; runners on the corners
Opposing pitcher: Seth Martinez, Astros
Judge's second walk-off of the season came in a difficult situation. He was down 0-1 in the count to Martinez, a funky low-slot righty who had the shadows working in his favor. Martinez threw a slider that backed up on him, and Judge took full advantage. It wasn't his longest or hardest-hit home run, but it sailed quickly into the Astros bullpen in left-center for the victory. The Yankees not only split their four-game series with the Astros as a result, they improved to 53-20 on the year.
6. No. 39: Blast off Barlow
Date: July 28
Situation: Bottom of the ninth; tied; no one on base
Opposing pitcher: Scott Barlow, Royals
Judge's third and most recent walk-off home run. Barlow had retired the previous batter, the newly acquired Andrew Benintendi, on four pitches. Judge evidently saw all he needed to see during that at-bat, jumping on a first-pitch fastball and smoking it over the Royals bullpen in left-center field. The win improved the Yankees' record to 67-33. Barlow would get charged with a loss in the next night's game, too.
7. No. 1: The first of many
Date: April 13
Situation: Bottom of the fifth; down by two; no one on base
Opposing pitcher: José Berríos, Blue Jays
The beauty of a home-run chase is that every link in the chain matters. As such, we had to put Judge's first home run of the season on here somewhere. He hit this in the Yankees' sixth game of the year. Who would've imagined he'd hit 60 more (and counting) afterward? Fittingly, No. 1 came on the first pitch he saw of this at-bat. Berríos threw a sinker a little up and a little inside, trying to get in on his hands, yet Judge was able to get around and muscle it out to left field.
8. No. 15: Second-deck shot
Date: May 22
Situation: Bottom of the eighth; down one; no one on base
Opposing pitcher: Kendall Graveman
This home-run pitch happened to be similar to the one Judge hit against Berríos. With an 0-2 count in place, Graveman threw an elevated, upper-90s sinker in and off the plate. That didn't stop Judge from cranking it into the second deck. Judge's home run tied the game, making it one of the most important home runs he's hit from a Win Probability Added perspective. Alas, the Yankees would go on to lose by a 3-1 final.
9. No. 41: A grand time
Date: July 29
Situation: Bottom of the eighth; ahead by two; bases loaded
Opposing pitcher: Jackson Kowar
Here we have the more notable of Judge's two grand slams this season. Kowar threw a first-pitch changeup that stayed up. Judge didn't appear to get all of it, but he got enough to muscle it out to right field. His other grand slam, for those wondering, came a few weeks prior against Pirates lefty and former teammate Manny Bañuelos.
10. No. 48: The (previously) hardest hit
Date: Aug. 23
Situation: Bottom of the fourth; tied; no one on base
Opposing pitcher: Taijuan Walker, Mets
Some people like their home runs hit long, some people like their home runs hit hard. This is for the second crowd. Judge smoked a full-count sinker on the bottom, inside corner that cleared the playing field in a hurry. According to Statcast, the official exit velocity on the home run was 115.9 mph.
That remained his hardest-struck home run of the season until No. 61, as well as his fourth-hardest hit ball overall.