Aaron Judge scripts new AL 62 HR record, becomes MLB’s best clean hitter

Aaron Judge after hitting his 62nd home run in Arlington.

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Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run on Tuesday to script the record for the most single-season home runs in the American League. The New York Yankees superstar eclipsed Roger Maris’ 1961 record and becomes the only player in the MLB with such a power-hitting season outside the steroid era.

A leadoff smash against the Texas Rangers in the season’s last game gave Aaron Judge his much-awaited yet deserved record. His incredible season, which will almost definitely win him the AL MVP Award, has now gone down in history. Judge’s 2022 is the all-time power benchmark for the famous Yankees team and the American League.

A few stressful days took over in between before he changed the past. Aaron Judge hit his 61st home run on September 28, which was last Wednesday. He then struggled through almost a week of frustrated at-bats, ESPN Live appearances, and ball by pitchers who were against his historic feet. In the five games between, he only had three hits, but he walked five times and was hit by a pitch.

However, in the second game of a doubleheader in Texas’ Arlington on Tuesday night, he smashed a pitch by Jesus Tinoco over the left field of Globe Life Field and the fan who retrieved it was hauled away by security, facing a difficult option. In the past, historic home run balls have sold for millions of dollars.

A home run chase without suspicion

Even though the record books say otherwise, Aaron Judge will be seen by many as the best home run hitter of all time. Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa had the only other seasons that were better than Maris’ 61. This was during the infamous steroid era, which was exciting but scandalous for baseball in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

All three of these big hitters were suspected of using drugs to help them play better, and McGwire later admitted it.

Ealier Kevin Maris told New York Magazine that he thought his dad’s 61 was the real record and that he would be happy for Aaron Judge if he broke it.

“I think public opinion says that Dad really has the record. How can you celebrate people that have been known to cheat the game? It’s not done in any other sport. So I’d have to go with the court of public opinion.”

Roger Maris Jr. then went after Judge and said the same thing to almost everyone who would listen. Soon after Aaron Judge’s historic 62nd homer, he twitted branding him as the “new Clean Home Run King.”

Bonds’ 73 home runs in 2001 are still the most ever. Aaron Judge, for his part, agrees with this. He told Sports Illustrated that “Bonds is the king of home runs in a single season.” Keep in mind that Judge grew up in Bay Area while Bonds was hitting home runs for the Giants. During the 2001 season, Aaron Judge was only nine years old.

No one has reached these heights in decades, which is something everyone can agree on. Giancarlo Stanton, Judge’s teammate, hit 59 home runs for the Miami Marlins in 2017. He was the only other player to come close. Alex Rodriguez’s 57-homer season in 2002 was the most recent AL player to come closer to Maris’ 61.

The debate about where Aaron Judge’s season ranks among the contentious all-time greats is less relevant right now. The Yankees’ slugger’s capability was never an issue. This is a guy who came to the majors with a mindset to break home run records. In his first full season, he was named Rookie of the Year and hit 52 home runs.

The problem has been that he can only reach his full potential in short bursts. Since his first season, this is only the second time he has gone to the plate 600 times in a season. After turning down a contract extension offer from the Yankees before the season, Aaron Judge has had one of the best contract-year performances of all time, improving in almost every way as a hitter. He is leading Major League Baseball in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and he is close to winning the Triple Crown.

He has led the league in home runs and RBIs for much of the season, but a batting title didn’t look likely until August. Then, despite his constant power output and the constant pressure of carrying a Yankees’ offense that fell apart in August, Aaron Judge found time to work on getting his batting better.

In a July interview, Aaron Judge once said:

“I saw a lot of the greats — Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera — they always hit above .300 and the power just came with it, Judge said in late July when his batting average sat at .294. That’s always been a goal of mine, to hit above .300 and we’ll keep working towards it.”

So, while Judge’s home run total might be hard to compare to those of his steroid-using predecessors, his greatness this year is refreshingly clear. He is on track to join Mike Trout and Mookie Betts as the only active players to have a 10-WAR season. Based on park-adjusted OPS+, he is on track to have the best offensive season since Barry Bonds.

Whether it’s the strict PED testing, the minute Statcast numbers or just the credit to his 6-foot-7-inch height in pinstripes, Aaron Judge’s best moments feel like a phenomenon that can be enjoyed to the fullest, even though it’s not what you’d expect.

Longest, shortes, hardest of Aaron Judge’s 2022 homers

So many home runs have been hit. Let’s think back on some of the most memorable homers of Aaron Judge.

Longest: Early in the season, there was a lot of talk about how the Baltimore Orioles’ taller fence in the left field might be keeping the Yankees in check. Aaron Judge himself added to the anger when, in May, he said that the changes to Camden Yards were “a travesty” because the higher wall cost him a three-homer game.

But in July, he hit one over the wall by 465 feet.

Shortest: His 12th homer, it was against the White Sox.

Hardest: It turns out that his hardest hit was a pretty big one when Aaron Judge blasted his 61st in Toronto. According to Statcast, it went out at a speed of 117.4 mph over the left field wall against the Blue Jays.

Most important: According to Win Probability Added and Championship Win Probability Added, his most crucial long ball occurred on May 10 against the Toronto Blue Jays is the most important.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Yankees were down by two runs, and there were two men on base. He got out of it by hitting a huge home run down the left-field line. That gave them a four-game lead in the AL East and started a run of wins that made what was thought to be a close division impossible to win for most of the summer.

The other part

Aaron Judge’s 11 multi-homer games in 2022 are tied for the most in a single season with those of Sammy Sosa (1998) and Hank Greenberg (1938). He has been hitting home runs like crazy. In one game against the Red Sox, he hit home runs 56 and 57. In another game against the Brewers, he hit home runs 58 and 59.

Do you think Aaron Judge is a big hitter than Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa?

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