Aaron Judge is not the only MLB rookie hitting a ton of home runs this season
It's more than 'just' Aaron Judge, you know. And here's proof
So here's a rundown of all rookies in MLB history who have hit 30 or more home runs in a season ...
|Wally Berger||Atlanta Braves||1930||38|
|Hal Trosky||Cleveland Indians||1934||35|
|Rudy York||Detroit Tigers||1937||35|
|Ted Williams||Boston Red Sox||1939||31|
|Walt Dropo||Red Sox||1950||34|
|Frank Robinson||Cincinnati Reds||1956||38|
|Jimmie Hall||Minnesota Twins||1963||33|
|Jim Ray Hart||San Francisco Giants||1964||31|
|Willie Montanez||Philadelphia Phillies||1971||30|
|Ron Kittle||Chicago White Sox||1983||35|
|Jose Canseco||Oakland Athletics||1986||33|
|Pete Incaviglia||Texas Rangers||1986||30|
|Mike Piazza||Los Angeles Dodgers||1993||35|
|Tim Salmon||Los Angeles Angels||1993||31|
|Nomar Garciaparra||Red Sox||1997||30|
|Albert Pujols||St. Louis Cardinals||2001||37|
|Ryan Braun||Milwaukee Brewers||2007||34|
|Chris Young||Arizona Diamondbacks||2007||32|
|Jose Abreu||White Sox||2014||36|
For those counting, that comes to 26 rookie sluggers who have tallied 30 or more homers in said rookie campaign, which, of course, means it's not something that happens all that often. As you can see, the last to do it was Jose Abreu of the White Sox in 2014, and at one point -- 1971 through 1983 -- we went 12 years without a 30-bomb rook. The names range in historical impact from Walt Dropo and Matt Nokes to Albert Pujols and Ted Williams. You'll also note that Mark McGwire holds the rookie record with 49 homers back in 1987.
Now let's have a look at some notable rookie home run totals from the 2017 season, current as of Monday morning ...
New York Yankees
San Diego Padres
Barring the wholly unexpected, Judge is of course a lock to get to 30 homers. Moreover, he's in a good position to challenge McGwire's rookie record (to say nothing of his legitimate designs on the Triple Crown and AL MVP).
Let's not allow Judge to hog all the bandwidth, though. Bellinger is closing in on 20 homers despite not being called up until late April. While he can't quite match the majesty of Judge's most memorable bombs, the 21-year-old Bellinger has actually homered in a higher percentage of his plate appearances than has Judge. Stated another way, Bellinger right now is second in the NL in homers despite having not yet reached qualifying status. Since teams are still 10 or so games shy of the halfway point, that means we've got four rookies on pace for at least 30 taters. As well, Bell and Mancini aren't far off the pace. Note that Mancini and Davidson haven't seen regular playing time all year, so they could accelerate their paces.
That brings us back to the historical rundown up top. Scroll through those years, and you'll find that never have we had more than two rookies hit 30 or more out in the same season. Right now, we're on target to double that in 2017. As well, McGwire's the only rookie ever to top 40 home runs, and this year Judge and Bellinger are each in line to get to 40 (and then some).
To be sure, it's not entirely fair to compare across eras. This season, teams are hitting 1.26 home runs per game, which is easily the highest rate in MLB history. Hitters are focusing more and more on driving the ball in the air, and there's at least some evidence that baseballs are "juiced" these days. In other words, it's easier than ever to knock the ball out of the yard, and that reality, writ small, is seen in the rookie class of sluggers. No doubt, Judge's and Bellinger's power would play in any era, but the current league environment is an accommodating one.
Qualifiers and context aside, if you like to see young hitters drop bombs -- thus capturing us in the present and tantalizing us when we think about the long-term -- then 2017 is shaping up to be a great year. Never before have we seen rookies hit home runs at such a pace. The results to date say that the rookie class of 2017 is going to keep their appointment with history.