Aaron Judge stuck on 60 home runs as Yankees clinch AL East title, goodbye Wild Card Series

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is stuck on 60 homers. Judge went 0-for-1 with four walks in Tuesday night’s win over AL East rival Toronto Blue Jays (NYY 5, TOR 2). It’s the second four-goal game of Judge’s career. Judge is of course chasing Roger Maris’ American League single-season record of 61 home runs set in 1961.

More importantly, the Yankees clinched the AL East title and a Wild Card Series bye with Tuesday’s victory. The Astros and Yankees will be the top two seeds in the AL and will therefore go straight to the ALDS. The AL Central champion Guardians will play in the best-of-three Wild Card Series, although they will host all three games. The three joker places are still undecided.

As for Judge, he’s 5-of-19 (.263) with 12 walks and eight strikeouts in seven games since hitting his 60th home run last Tuesday. This equates to a base percentage of 0.548. Here’s the AL’s single-season home run rankings:

  1. Roger Maris, 1961 Yankees: 61
  2. Aaron Judge, Yankees 2022: 60+
  3. Babe Ruth, 1927 Yankees: 60
  4. Hank Greenberg, 1938 Tigers: 58
  5. Jimmie Foxx, 1932 Athletics: 58

The seven-game home drought is the second longest of the season for Judge. He had a seven-game drought from April 14-21 and a season-record nine-game streak from August 13-21. Judge hit eight homers in his next 10 games after that April drought, and nine homers in his next 14 games after that August drought.

In addition to Maris’ record, The judge is also suing the triple crown. Tuesday’s game leaves him with a .314 batting average, just ahead of Luis Arraez (.313) and Xander Bogaerts (.311). Judge leads the league by good margins with 60 home runs and 128 RBIs. Miguel Cabrera won baseball’s last Triple Crown in 2012.

Judge will be looking to hit his 61st homer in Wednesday’s series finale in Toronto. The Blue Jays will start with right-hander Mitch White, who allowed two career hits in two at-bats against Judge. After Wednesday’s game, the Yankees will return home for a three-weekend series with the Orioles, giving Judge a chance to catch Maris at Yankee Stadium.

The AL East title is New York’s first since 2019 and only their second since 2012. They’ve had a very eventful season. The Yankees peaked at 61-23 on July 8, the best record in baseball in 6½ games, but have only been 34-36 since, including a horrific 3-14 streak in August. They have since righted the ship with a 16-7 record in September.

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