The Yankees' Aaron Judge became the first rookie to ever hit 50 home runs in a season yesterday, breaking Mark McGwire's old rookie record of 49.
It's an impressive accomplishment, considering hitting 50 home runs in a season is very difficult to do (#analysis). It's even more difficult without having seen much major league pitching before while fixing a swing that used to have a big hole and only produced a minor league high of 20 home runs.
Coincidentally, Judge broke the rookie home run record on the 10-year anniversary of another big home run milestone -- Prince Fielder breaking the record as the youngest player to ever hit 50 in a season.
Fielder hit #49 and #50 in a 9-1 Brewers win over the St. Louis Cardinals on September 25th, 2007.
Prince got started early that day, following a Rickie Weeks leadoff home run and a Ryan Braun triple by crushing a 1-0 pitch from Braden Looper to right for his 49th home run.
The historic blast came in the 7th inning, when Prince went oppo against Kip Wells, driving in Craig Counsell on #50.
He'd go homerless in the final four games of the season, but at 23 years and 139 days, he still broke the record held by Willie Mays -- and he did it by nearly a full year. Mays' previous record was 24 years, 137 days.
When Judge was 23 years old, he split the year between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting a combined .255/.330/.448 for a .778 OPS with 20 home runs and 26 doubles in 124 games. He also struck out 144 times in 478 at-bats.
Fielder finished his age-23 season hitting .288/.395/.618 with 50 home runs, 35 doubles and a third-place MVP finish.
To further put how prolific Fielder's early career home run totals were, Judge hit his 50th home run at the age of 25 years, 153 days. By that age, Prince had already hit 160 homers in his career. Judge is at 54 when you add the time he saw in August and September of last year.
Unfortunately, we know how Fielder's story ended. While he's still only 33 and technically still on the Rangers' 60-day disabled list, his career was effectively ended in the middle of 2016, when Rangers doctors told him his neck problems would prevent them from ever clearing him to play again. Here's to hoping Judge and his 6'7", 282-pound frame can hold up to a 162-game schedule better than Fielder -- who was the most durable player in baseball over his 8-year peak -- did at what proved to be the end of his career.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference