Aaron Judge has chance to make MLB history


Photo courtesy of Instagram/@thejudge44

Aaron Judge (Left) talks with other players on the Yankees, New York, April 26.

Baseball has many long-standing records set by all-time greats who changed the course of baseball history. New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge has the opportunity to cement himself in baseball history by breaking the 61-year-old record set by former Yankee great, Roger Maris. Maris is the all-time American League leader in home runs after he hit 61 in 1961. Judge is currently on pace to tie this record, as they both scored 51 home runs through the first 130 games of the season.

The single-season all-time home run leader has been a controversial topic since the infamous steroid era of baseball, back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa and St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire each hit more home runs in a single season than Maris, although they surpassed Maris’ record while using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Bonds, who allegedly did use PEDs, currently maintains the record with his 73 home runs in 2001, despite being seen as a tarnished record due to his use of PEDs.

As well as the single-season home run record, Bonds also holds the record for most home runs in a career with a total of 762, narrowly edging out Atlanta Braves legend Hank Aaron, who had 755 home runs. In 2007, when Bonds broke the tie with Aaron, he was considered royalty in the baseball community for breaking a record that many thought would never be broken.

Along with the praise he received, Bonds also faced backlash from the media, who said that his record breaking scores were illegitimate. In an interview after breaking Aaron’s 33-year record, Bonds argued with a reporter, accusing them of asking too many “negative questions.” He refused to answer questions regarding any steroid use, but as his home run total kept rising, so would the number of skeptical questions he continued to receive.

With Bonds, McGwire and Sosa all playing in the National League at this time, Maris is still the American League leader in home runs within a single season. Since 1901, when the American League was implemented, only two players have ever hit 60 or more home runs in a season; both Maris (1961) and Babe Ruth (1927) hit 60 home runs while playing for the Yankees. As of now, Aaron Judge could become the third Yankee and American League player to ever reach 60 home runs in one season.

Judge has been on a historic pace all season in the final year of his rookie contract, which will allow him to become a free agent after this season.. It has been a back and forth battle between Judge and the Yankees front office in deciding how much they are willing to pay their franchise cornerstone. It looks like Judge will be receiving massive contract offers from other teams as well as the Yankees during the upcoming offseason. The closer Judge gets to Maris’ record, the more likely a record breaking contract is.

As the final stretch of the regular season approaches, Judge would need to hit 11 more home runs in the team’s final 32 games to overtake Maris for the American League record. This is the second time in his career where he has hit over 50 home runs in a season, joining his rookie season in 2017 when he set the then-rookie record of 52 home runs. It is easy to note that Yankee Stadium is one of the more hitter friendly ballparks in Major League Baseball, but Judge is hitting long home runs at such a high rate that it leaves no argument for the dominance that he has held over the league this season.

In what has been a very inconsistent year for New York, Judge has been the one constant all season. Keeping up such a historic pace will surely keep him at the top of the MVP race, and perhaps bring a World Series trip back to the Bronx for the first time since 2009. It has been a rare World Series drought for the Yankees in recent history, but with Judge leading the way and possibly breaking a historic record, the sky could be the limit for the New York Yankees.