The New York Yankees have a long and storied history of super stars smashing home runs, but this year’s version of the Bronx Bombers may become the best the franchise has ever seen. And yes, I am fully aware that the Yankees boast Hall of Famers such as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Lou Gehrig among their ranks.
Leading the charge for New York is Aaron Judge, a candidate for both rookie of the year and most valuable player honors. The 25-year old surprise slugger is leading the Triple Crown categories with a .344 average, 21 home runs and 47 RBI, along with an OPS (1.168) that is more than double the league average. His home runs include a 495-foot blast into the left-field seats in Yankee Stadium Sunday, the longest home run of 2017, and a 121.1 mph shot off Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman, the hardest hit ball since 2015, the first year of the Statcast era.
Five other players on the roster have already hit double-digit home runs: Brett Gardner (13), Matt Holiday (13), Starlin Castro (12) Gary Sanchez (10) and Aaron Hicks (10).
The Yankees have 14 games in which they hit three or more home runs this season, the most in franchise history over the first 60 games of the season. And this year’s squad also has three five-homer games in 2017, the most in the majors. This season, the Yankees have 102 home runs in 60 games, putting them on pace for 275 home runs over a 162-game season, which, if sustained, would eclipse the major league record set by the 1997 Seattle Mariners (264). The most ever by the Yankees was in 2012 (245), followed closely by the 2009 (244) and 2004 seasons (242). The 1961 Yankees, which included a 61-home run campaign by Roger Maris, hit 240 that season. The 1927 version of Murderers’ Row hit 158 home runs in 155 games.
That was a different era. Yet even after you adjust for that, plus further account for league and park effects, this is the fourth-best hitting team in franchise history, creating runs at a rate that is 22 percent higher than average. The only other rosters in the Bronx that were (slightly) better were the Ruth and Gehrig years of 1927 (126 wRC+), 1930 (124) and 1931 (124).
To some it may sound like blasphemy to mention the modern-day Yankees (whose names were little known before this season’s eruption) in the same breath as Ruth, Mantle and Maris, but these Baby Bombers are putting the league on notice that they are to be taken seriously as a Murderers’ Row of their own.
Correction: The 1961 Yankees hit 240 home runs, not 204.