Aaron Judge Among Rookies Eyeing an MLB Milestone

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Aaron Judge (New York Yankees): most home runs during rookie season, Yankees franchise history

When it could happen: any game this week

The Yankees have a rich history of developing Hall of Fame-caliber hitters. Many of them were instantly productive, recognized as All-Stars (Hideki Matsui) or receiving down-ballot MVP votes as rookies (like Lou Gehrig and Yogi Berra). Even so, none of them showcased transcendent power as immediately as Aaron Judge has. He approaches the season’s halfway mark trailing only one pinstriped icon in home runs. The MLB rookie record across all teams—Mark McGwire‘s 49 dingers in 1987—is looking like a realistic target by summer’s end.

Cody Bellinger (Los Angeles Dodgers): most multi-home run games during rookie season

When it could happen: June 26-29 (vs. Los Angeles Angels)

Bellinger’s father Clay spent parts of 16 seasons in professional baseball. Most of that career was a grind at the Triple-A level, mastering every position possible to make himself useful to the big league club, if only for a few games at a time. He had obvious limitations as a player, but it appears that he’s done an expert parenting job. Cody has posted his first six multi-home run games at a record pace, combining for as many long balls in those particular games (12) as his father hit throughout all of his MLB opportunities. The 21-year-old is now just one shy of McGwire’s rookie total of seven as the Dodgers begin a tasty matchup with the crosstown Angels (111 HR allowed, 4th-most in the majors).

Trey Mancini (Baltimore Orioles): highest slugging percentage by a qualified rookie, Orioles franchise history

When it could happen: June 30-July 2 (vs. Tampa Bay Rays)

Transplant Mancini into most MLB seasons and he’d be getting well-deserved recognition. Initially blocked from playing time on an experienced Orioles roster stacked with power hitters, he’s arguably been their most dangerous option at the plate. Mancini rise to prominence is doubly remarkable when considering his pedigree as an eighth-round draft pick with an inconsistent power stroke—his 14 homers so far in 2017 are more than he tallied last season at Triple-A! Riding Baltimore’s bench through much of April means that he hasn’t qualified for league leaderboards quite yet (227 plate appearances in 75 team games). Barring injury, that will change over the next couple weeks, with his .589 slugging percentage taking over the No. 1 spot ahead of these other standout rookies.

Franklin Barreto (Oakland Athletics): longest hitting streak to begin career, Athletics franchise history

When it could happen: July 6-9 (vs. Seattle Mariners)

A’s fans have been anxious to see what Barreto can do. With Marcus Semien (fractured right wrist) injured for most of the season, the team’s production at shortstop—Barreto’s primary position—fell into the gutter. In Semien’s place, Adam Rosales and company have batted .214/.281/.338 with 87 strikeouts in 76 games, and let’s not even mention the defense. Barreto should be able to perform well above that standard, but there’s also some pressure on him to validate the Josh Donaldson trade, as Oakland hasn’t received much of a positive impact from anybody else acquired in that deal. So far, so good: Barreto went deep in his very first game, then recorded a couple more hits on Sunday. If the top prospect keeps this up through the All-Star break, he’ll catch Bill McGhee (1944 Philadelphia A’s), who had hits in 12 straight contests to begin his career.

Pending MLB milestones featured in previous weeks

  • Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins): highest career slugging percentage, Marlins franchise history
  • Jose Reyes (New York Mets): 500 career stolen bases
  • Colorado Rockies: most wins prior to the All-Star break, Rockies franchise history
  • Masahiro Tanaka (New York Yankees): most home runs allowed prior to the All-Star break, Yankees franchise history

Featured Image: 2017 Topps Now MLB #171