$360 Million All-Star Slugger Predicted to Hit 70 Home Runs in 2024

aaron judge

Getty Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is already the single-season American League home run king. Can he take things to another level in 2024?

Outfielder Aaron Judge put on an impressive power display for the New York Yankees in 2022 by slugging an American League record 62 home runs. Does he have an even better performance on tap in 2024?

Scott Allen and Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post shared 12 bold MLB predictions for the upcoming season on March 26. Regarding Judge, they predict the right-handed hitter will slug 70 taters this year.

“Despite missing 56 games because of hip and toe injuries last year, the New York Yankees slugger hit 37 home runs, the second-most ever by a player who appeared in 106 games or fewer,” they said. “Judge’s toe injury may have affected his ability to pull the ball, as only 13 of his 37 home runs in 2023 were to left field, compared with half of his AL-record 62 bombs in 2022, but the power indicators were still there, and now he’ll hit behind Juan Soto. Judge’s average fly-ball distance was higher in 2023 than it was in 2022, and his ratio of home runs to fly balls was nearly identical at 18 percent.”

Judge’s record-breaking 2022 campaign happened right before reaching free agency. The outfielder used this performance — which won him the AL MVP Award — to earn a nine-year, $360 million deal in December 2022 to remain with the Bombers.

How Do the Projections Think Aaron Judge Will Perform?

Allen and Greenberg shared reasoning why each of their bold predictions could come true, and why it’s unlikely. “The only two players to eclipse 70 home runs in a season — Mark McGwire in 1998 and Barry Bonds in 2001 — both admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during their careers,” they said. “Since MLB instituted a universal drug-testing policy in 2008, no one has hit more than 62.”

The explanation for this side of the argument also pointed to FanGraphs’ Steamer projections, which predict he’ll hit 46 homers in 2024. All of the major projection systems expect around the same kind of power production from Judge. ZiPS is projecting 40 homers and ATC has settled on 44 for the upcoming campaign.

Judge dealt with an abdominal injury earlier in spring training and will continue to live with the toe injury he suffered during the 2023 season. While there are factors he’ll be working against, his talent and track record are both there for him to challenge this number. In addition to slugging 62 homers in 2022, he also hit 57 as a rookie in 2017.

Joining Forces With Juan Soto Should Be a Deadly Combo

The Yankees have seen the depth of their roster get tested before Opening Day. Ace hurler Gerrit Cole is on the injured list, and he’s joined by infielders DJ LeMahieu and Oswald Peraza.

However, one guy who is healthy and ready to wreak havoc is Juan Soto. Across 51 plate appearances in spring training, Soto hit .304/.373/.630. This included seven extra-base hits (three doubles and four homers), 10 RBI and nine runs scored.

His projections have him slugging between 33 and 38 home runs during the 2024 season. If all goes according to plan, Soto and Judge will be top contenders for the AL MVP Award, too. ZiPS has projected just nine players to surpass 5.0 fWAR this season. They’re the lone pair of teammates in this group. Their identical 5.8-fWAR projections are tied for second in MLB, behind only Ronald Acuña Jr. (7.6).

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