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Aaron Judge, Juan Soto are inching closer to big historic achievement

The combination of Juan Soto and Aaron Judge promised to be a standout pairing from the moment the Yankees acquired Soto in the offseason, and that’s exactly what happened.

Soto started hitting line drives right away in the opening series at Houston, and Judge got off to a slow start but has been nearly impossible to hit and keep in the park the past few weeks.

That already has historic dimensions, because they’ve become one of the greatest one-two punches New York has ever seen. Coming into Saturday’s game against Boston, they ranked below the holy grail of offensive statistics, with OPS numbers both above 1.000. OPS combines on-base percentage and slugging percentage. No stat is perfect, but OPS generally provides the most complete and useful glance of any offensive stat.

The judges’ score on Saturday was 1.115.

and Soto was 1.023.

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (99) congratulates New York Yankees outfielder Juan Soto (22) on his two-run home run. Robert Sabo, NY Post

By comparison, none of the Yankees’ four championship-winning teams in the five-year span from 1996-2000 had two players with an OPS over 1.000, and the instances when they had even one player who did it were notable in small sample sizes: Shane Spencer in 1998, Darryl Strawberry in 1999, and Glenallen Hill in 2000. No regular player on the 2009 championship team reached 1.000, and no player on the 1977 and 1978 championship teams did either.

Amazingly, during their heyday from 1960-64, not even the famed M&M Boys ever batted over 1.000 simultaneously (partly because Roger Maris batted in front of Mickey Mantle and barely earned a walk), but in ’61 they came close: Mantle’s OPS was 1.135 en route to 54 home runs, and Maris’ was .993 en route to 61.

Only one Mets player in history has ever had an entire season with a 1.000 ERA or better, Mike Piazza, who hit 1.012 in 2000. Six Dodgers players have done so while playing in Brooklyn, with Babe Herman’s highest being 1.132 in 1930. The Giants have done so nine times while playing in New York, with Mel Ott doing it six of those times.

that’s all.

Hitting 1,000 in mid-June is one thing, hitting 1,000 in late September is quite another, meaning both Soto and Judge still have work to do. But as they do, one of the nice perks is that we’re periodically reminded of arguably the most dangerous one-two punch in baseball history, New York or anywhere else: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

We know from anecdotal evidence alone how great they were, and it’s fair to assume that not a day went by when Gehrig and Ruth were on the same team, from 1923 to 1934, when their OPS wasn’t discussed or in the newspapers. But that’s what makes this study so interesting: they’re a historical pair that fits surprisingly well to modern standards.

Aaron Judge hit a two-run home run against the Chicago White Sox to help score. Corey Shipkin (NY Post)

Consider:

In a seven-year span from 1927 to 1933, Ruth and Gehrig each topped 1,000. A total of seven years. That’s crazy, but it happened every year, for seven years in a row.

Over those seven years, Ruth’s average season stats were .343 batting average, .472 on-base percentage, .696 slugging percentage, 47 home runs, 146 RBIs and an OPS of 1.169.

Gehrig’s season averages: .350/.452/.659 with 37 home runs, 156 RBIs and a 1.111 OPS.

Connie Mack, who led the Philadelphia Athletics to three straight championships ahead of the Yankees from 1929-1931 before halting their midseason run, once said, “Half the time you spend playing the Yankees, you’re worrying about what a Ruth or a Gehrig might do when they come out against you, and the other half is spent lamenting what they might actually do to you.”

Yankees outfielder Juan Soto has been impressive in his first season in New York. Robert Sabo, NY Post

Measuring the greatest one-two punch in MLB history is a subjective exercise, and those who do it usually use more complicated advanced statistics. Still, Ruth and Gehrig occupy the top four on almost every list, and the 1927 edition is cartoonish. Ruth’s OPS was an astounding 1.258, unsurprisingly for a 60-home run season, but Gehrig was just behind Ruth at 1.240.

Judge and Soto are certainly good, but they still have work to do before they’re one or two punches away from reaching that rarefied status of being on par with the GOAT, but it’ll be a fun summer watching them try.

Vax Wax

I’ll be honest, shows featuring hairy monsters aren’t really my thing, but Netflix’s “Eric” starring Benedict Cumberbatch is an exception and I really enjoyed it.


In 1996, John Lucas’ Philadelphia 76ers won 18 games, fewer than the city’s four college teams that year. That team had two assistant coaches, Tom Thibodeau and Mo Cheeks. Cheeks joined Thibodeau’s Knicks staff this week, and they should be able to win a few more games this time around.

Oklahoma City Thunder player Maurice Cheeks watches a scrimmage against the Philadelphia 76ers at HP FieldHouse at ESPN Wide World of Sports on July 26, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. NBAE via Getty Images

I was really looking forward to Hulu’s “Brats,” Andrew McCarthy’s Brat Pack project, and it was good. But… I mean, it’s hard to imagine that what happened to these people could really be considered an atrocity. Rob Lowe’s piece was funny, though.


It’s shaping up to be a fun evening: a live Q&A with Jim Burt, Howard Cross, Leonard Marshall, Bart Oates, Joe Morris and “Once a Giant” author Gary Myers at Carmine’s on West 44th Street on June 25. For $45, you get food, a drink ticket and the discussion, and you can buy a book that night to have signed.

Counterattack against Vac

Robert Katz: Aaron Rodgers missed the first session of Jets minicamp apparently to fit into his new Kyrie Irving-model tinfoil helmet.

Vac: But if Rodgers is going to have a similar new chapter as Kyrie this year, I think they’ll sign the contract.


Elliot Levin: The Mets’ “weaker” 35 games will consist of 11 series against eight teams that currently have a better record than the Mets. The more favorable schedule would include the White Sox, Brooklyn Cyclones and Hartford Yard Goats.

Vac: Don’t miss the Yard Goats!


@Paul Dunbar: It reminds me of the exchange between Jerry West and Walt Frazier during the 1970 season, and I’ll never forget Jerry West’s 60-foot buzzer-beater.

Mike Vack: As many have pointed out this week, a three-point shot would have won the game.


Dennis Daly: I’ve been busy betting on the Belmont race and have only just realized that Jayson Werth is one of the owners of the winning horse.

Vac: I’ll be honest, at first glance I thought it was interesting that Kid Rock was at Saratoga.

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