The Yankees can break the single-season team home run record, but it'll be close
SEPT. 7 UPDATE: At the end of June, the 2018 Yankees were on pace to comfortably surpass the 1997 Mariners' single-season home run record of 264. Injuries to sluggers Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius have slowed the Bronx Bombers' dinger pace as the season as gone along, but with 22 games remaining, they still have a shot at the record. The graphic below is updated to reflect the Yankees' current pace -- roughly 1.628 home runs per game -- which projects them to finish with roughly 264 home runs. With Sanchez back, and Judge and Gregorius returning soon, and unexpected acquisition Luke Voit knocking dingers regularly as well, the Yankees still have a strong chance to break this record -- but it is going to come down to the wire.
Anyone who looked at the Giancarlo Stanton-Aaron Judge-led Yankees lineup heading into the 2018 season could tell you that this team would probably hit a healthy number of home runs. Without Stanton, the 2017 Yankees hit 241 home runs, more than any other team, and the 16th most in MLB history. Predictably, adding the 2017 NL MVP to their already loaded lineup has elevated these Yankees to historic levels of dinger-smashing greatness.
With 228 home runs through their first 140 games, the Yankees have put themselves in position to rewrite the record books. Here's how they stack up against the greatest home run-hitting teams in MLB history:
Note: The Yankees' projected end-of-season home run total is based on their current pace of 1.628 home runs per game.
History shows us that the teams that have launched the most balls over Major League fences across North America traditionally have their fair share of mega-ultra superstars in the fold. The team the 2018 Yankees are trying to eclipse, the 1997 Mariners, boasted 56 home runs from Ken Griffey Jr. at the absolute peak of his powers, and 23 home runs from a 21-year-old hotshot shortstop named Alex Rodriguez. Right fielder Jay Buhner contributed 40 homers of his own, while Seattle legend Edgar Martinez chipped in 28 long balls as well.
The 1997 Mariners were star-studded, as expected. But while Griffey and A-Rod were undoubtedly the headliners, the greatest home run-hitting teams of all time often come with an exceptional supporting cast as well. Beyond Judge and Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius and rookie Gleyber Torres have each also reached double-digit home run totals.
Other teams like the 2005 Rangers had their home run total more evenly spread across the roster. Nine different players hit at least 16 home runs for that historic Texas squad. From Richard Hidalgo's 16 dingers all the way up to Mark Teixeira's 43, every spot in the lineup was capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark.
If they can't make it to the very top of the all-time leaderboards, the 2018 Yankees can at least shoot for the franchise record for team dingers in a season, held by the 2012 squad. There is only one remaining player from the 2012 team that is still donning pinstripes in 2018: Brett Gardner. But 2012 was an injury-riddled season for Gardner, who did not add a single home run to the team's season total of 245. Gardner has already contributed five homers to the 2018 Yankees' cause.
This Yankees team has a long way to go to officially etch its team in the all-time dinger record books. But they're off to about as good of a start imaginable, and they're showing no signs of slowing down.