Aaron Judge’s otherworldly season is beyond Ruthian

Is this what it was like to watch Babe Ruth play every day?

No. Really. That’s a fair question now. We know Babe Ruth was a great slugger — maybe the greatest slugger — because we can read the numbers, which seem hard to fathom if you look at them too closely. We know he was great because his contemporaries went to their graves revering him, marveling at his power, at his skill, at his flair.

For almost a hundred years, it’s been foolish to compare anyone else to him, even if there’s hardly anyone still living who saw him. Babe Ruth? I mean, Billy Joel is a terrific piano player, but does anyone ever say he was better than Ludwig van Beethoven — though there’s no one presently roaming the earth who ever heard LVB tickle the ivories?

Aaron Judge’s offensive barrage has him in the rarest of rare baseball territory. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Some things we just take on faith.

Babe Ruth, it’s always been taken on faith, lived on his own shelf as a slugger.

Everyone else — starting with Hank Aaron, joined by Willie Mays, by Barry Bonds by Ted Williams, by a few others — had their own shelf, just below.

But Aaron Judge makes you wonder.

Is this what it was like to watch Babe Ruth play every day?

“He’s able to go on historical runs, MVP-type runs, otherworldly-type runs,” says Yankees teammate Gerrit Cole, who’s had a front-row seat for so much of what Judge has done since 2020. “He’s just a great player.”

It’s hard to imagine what it was like to see Babe Ruth play daily — but Judge is giving us his own version. Courtesy Everett Collection

He is historical. He is otherworldly. He is making a case for himself as the unanimous MVP this time around, to bookend the one he won two years ago when he hit 62 home runs, two more than Ruth did in 1927, the year when Ruth was the most feared baseball player who ever lived.

In ’27, Ruth went on two 51-game tears that make you check your work three and four times when you’re done, to make sure the numbers are right because it feels like they couldn’t possibly be right.

The first, from May 30 to July 26, Ruth had 20 homers, 57 RBIs, scored 55 runs and slashed .400/.526/.844. That’s a 1.371 OPS across two solid months of baseball.

Aaron Judge is establishing a legend of his own. Jason Szenes / New York Post

The second, from Aug. 3 until Sept. 30 — the next-to-last day of the season, the day he swatted No. 60 off Washington’s Tom Zachary and declared “Sixty! Count ‘em! Let’s see some other SOB do that!” — the numbers read like this: 26 homers, 71 RBI, 52 runs, with a slash line of .332/.454/.824 and OPS of 1.278, which only looks thin when you compare it to Ruth’s earlier work.

Now let’s take a look at Aaron Judge’s past 51 games, entering Tuesday’s game at Yankee Stadium against the Reds.

From May 3 through Sunday in Toronto — 51 games — he has 25 home runs. He has 64 RBIs. He has scored 53 runs. He is hitting .397/.507/.922. That’s an OPS of 1.429, which is 58 points better than Babe Ruth hit during the hottest stretch of the most fabled offensive season in baseball history.

There’s a word for that: Ruthian.

Or maybe it should be Judgian.

It isn’t hype.

It isn’t hyperbole.

It’s history. In real time. Every day.

“He’s in that company all the time now,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone says. “It’s incredible what he’s doing, it really is. Kind of a ho-hum 2-for-4 [Sunday] with one off the batter’s eye. He’s in those conversations now all the time with Gehrig and Ruth and whatever superlative you can find. He keeps putting himself in those conversations.”

He’s put himself in this one. Because he belongs. He doesn’t just impress his teammates, he flabbergasts them. He doesn’t just strike fear in the heart of opposing pitchers, sometimes it goes beyond that — or didn’t you see the baseball-sized welt he left on Chris Bassit’s pitching arm the other day which was there for the world to see until Bassit opted for a long-sleeve shirt on a stifling day.

“The professional,” the jazz master Dizzy Gillespie once said, “is the guy that can do it twice.”

Twice? In his career, Ruth had seasons of 60, 59, 54 and 54. He hit 40 or more in six other years. In that sense, Judge has some catching up to do. He already has 52. He already has 62. He’s all but certain to reach those heights a third time. Ruth’s career is still high on a mountaintop.

Aaron Judge runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

But day-to-day?

This is what it had to be like in 1927, in 1921, in 1930. In those days, when Ruth made titanic blasts seem as routine for him as a game of pepper, it was Jumpin’ Joe Dugan, his teammate with both the Red Sox and Yankees, who said: “To understand him, you have to understand this: He isn’t human.”

The more you watch Aaron Judge, the more you understand.

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