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Yankees’ Aaron Judge Ties Roger Maris’ Single-Season Home Run Record

Forbes 9/29/2022 Brian Bushard, Forbes Staff

Topline

Aaron Judge’s home run against the Toronto Blue Jays Wednesday night tied Roger Maris’ single-season home run record—a record that has stood in the American League for more than 60 years—although baseball analysts still debate who holds the true record.

New York Yankees' right fielder Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris' single-season home run record. Getty Images © Provided by Forbes New York Yankees' right fielder Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris' single-season home run record. Getty Images

Key Facts

Judge’s home run was his 61st of the season, one ahead of Maris’ 61 in 1961, two ahead of Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs in 1927, and three more the 59 his current teammate Giancarlo Stanton hit in 2017 while playing for the Miami Marlins, according to Baseball Reference.

Even though Judge’s 61 home runs tie an American League record, three other players—Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa have hit more, with Sosa hitting 63-plus home runs in three seasons, McGwire hitting 65-plus twice and Bonds blasting an astounding 73 home runs in 2001 with the San Francisco Giants.

Baseball purists, however, discredit all three sluggers’ records, following positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs—McGwire later admitted to using steroids, while Sosa has repeatedly denied ever using them and Bonds admitted to using “cream” given by his personal trainer, but said he didn’t know they were steroids.

Judge, who is batting .314 with 130 runs batted in, is locked in a race with Los Angeles Angels phenom and reigning MVP Shohei Ohtani for the American League’s MVP award—Ohtani has 34 home runs as a designated hitter this year, although on the mound he has 13 wins and a 2.43 era (5th best in the league).

Judge’s 61 home runs, 130 RBIs and .314 average also put him in contention for the coveted triple crown award (reserved for players who finish first in all three categories), which has only been accomplished three times in the past 50 years, most recently in 2012 by Miguel Cabrera on the Detroit Tigers.

Key Background

Judge hit 52 home runs in his rookie season in 2017, setting an American League record that year and earning him the rookie of the year— though he was second overall to Stanton, who had 59 in the National League. Judge had 27 home runs in the 2018 and 2019 season, nine in a pandemic-shortened 2020 season and 39 last year, putting his career total at 219, the 23rd most of all active players, according to Baseball Reference, although he is the third youngest of those 23, behind Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

Surprising Fact

Judge has launched 19 more home runs than the Philadelphia Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber (42), who has the second most home runs in the MLB.

Big Number

$19 million. That’s how much the Yankees are paying Judge this season, according to Spotrac. The Yankees’ right fielder becomes a free agent at the end of the season, and baseball analysts expect him to receive astronomical offers from teams across the MLB. In March, he rejected a seven-year $213.5 million contract extension with New York, countering with $36 million per year for nine to 10 years ($324 million-$360 million), according to the New York Post, only to follow it up with his best season of his career.

What To Watch For

Whether Judge lands a massive contract like Seattle Mariners’ rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez, who agreed to a 14-year contract with $120 million guaranteed and up to $470 million if the team exercises an extension up to 18 years—the biggest contract in the history of the MLB.

Further Reading

Mariners Sign Rookie Phenom Julio Rodriguez To Massive Contract Up To $470 Million (Forbes)

Best hitting season ever? Here's the case for Judge (MLB)

Yankees' Aaron Judge Is Chasing More Than Just Home Run Immortality (Bleacher Report)

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