The same player hasn’t led MLB in home runs before and after the All-Star break since Jose Bautista did it in 2010. The Blue Jays slugger hit 24 home runs before the break and 30 after for a league-high 54 on the season.
Aaron Judge took over the baseball world in the span of three months by hitting 30 home runs in the first half.
Then he topped it off by winning the Home Run Derby on Monday, becoming the first first-half home run leader to win the derby since 1994 when Ken Griffey Jr., who was tied for the league lead with Matt Williams at the break. Griffey only hit seven home runs after the break that season.
There’s always chatter that there’s a Home Run Derby curse of sorts. Some say winning the derby, or even just competing in it (i.e., David Wright), is destructive. But seven of the last 10 Home Run Derby champs have hit double digit home runs in the second half.
While Bautista’s the only first-half home run leader to also lead in the second half in the last seven seasons, that doesn’t mean first-half leaders have completely fallen off the map.
The home run leader at the All-Star break also went on to lead the league for the season in three of the last six seasons. In two of those seasons, the leader missed most or all of the second half. Excluding Giancarlo Stanton in 2015 and Jose Bautista in 2012, the last four healthy first-half home run leaders have averaged 13.5 second-half home runs.
It’s hard to expect Judge to match his first-half numbers, but Yankees fans surely will take 43 home runs from a rookie who barely made the big-league club out of spring training.