Aaron Judge could finish the 2022 season with a big number on his stat sheet that we haven’t seen in more than 20 years, and something that has never been done in the post-steroid era.
Total bases isn’t usually seen as a sexy stat, but it probably should be because it tells us a lot about a player’s offensive value. And Aaron Judge certainly has provided a ton of offensive value in an MVP-worthy 2022 season.
A reminder of how total bases is calculated: It’s Singles + 2x Doubles + 3x Triples + 4x Home Runs. It doesn’t account for walks, hit by pitch or any other way of reaching base. It’s an often overlooked and undervalued statistic in casual baseball conversations, but it’s a key component when assessing a player’s contributions.
A high number of total bases tells us that a player is not just good at reaching base via hits, but at collecting extra-base hits — and usually a lot of them. That’s been the story of Judge’s 2022 season.
Entering play Wednesday, Judge sits at 330 total bases with 27 games remaining. The breakdown of his hits so far: 146 total hits — 54 homers, 22 doubles and 70 singles. Assuming he avoids injury and maintains something close to his current pace, Judge could reach 400 total bases during the last week of the season. But will he? Well, he’s had plenty of practice.
Judge has spent most of the season in overlapping 27-game spans in which he got 70 or more total bases. And sometimes, he’s gotten a lot more. From July 6 to Aug. 8, Judge accumulated 90 total bases. From May 17 to June 8, he got 78. So getting 70 more by Oct. 5 seems plenty doable.
It’s not the kind of chase that gets fans excited, but it would be a noteworthy and historic accomplishment.
No player has reached 400 total bases since Sammy Sosa (425), Luis Gonzalez (419), Barry Bonds (411) and Todd Helton (402) each did it in 2001. The closest anyone has come since is Albert Pujols‘ 394 in 2003.
The single-season record for total bases is Babe Ruth’s 457 in 1921, while the all-time leader in total bases is Hank Aaron with 6,856, though, oddly, Aaron had just one season of 400 total bases (1959).
Judge’s career-high in total bases is 340, set in his 2017 AL Rookie of the Year campaign, when he clubbed 52 homers. His next-highest total was last season’s 299. His final total in 2022 will almost certainly leave those numbers in the dust.
As one might imagine, Judge’s total bases this season have been fueled by the long ball. But his surge in dingers has had some fuel of its own.
Judge’s average exit velocity this season is nearly 96 mph, the highest mark in baseball. His hard-hit rate is nearly 62 percent, his highest ever. His average launch angle is nearly 15 degrees, his highest in a full season since 2017, and his barrel rate is nearly 27 percent, also a career high. Add it all together and that’s a formula for a lot of missiles, dingers and gappers — the main ingredients for several hundred total bases.
While Judge’s chase for 60 or more homers will get all the buzz, don’t sleep on the significance of 400 total bases. Both are hugely impressive numbers, especially in the context of the era in which Judge plays.
The Chase for 400 won’t drive TV ratings or fuel talk-radio debates, but it gives more evidence of the historic nature of what Judge has done in 2022, a season in which he elevated his game to a place not visited in a long time.