All Rise! Number 99 Is On Pace to Beat Roger Maris’ Home Run Record For a Single Season

“It is high! It is far! It is gone!”, are the exact words said by John Sterling, the Yankees’ radio play-by-play announcer, each time a ball leaves the park. However, those words mean something else for the Yankees’ All-Star outfielder, Aaron Judge, who has had that play called for him now 59 times this season as he inches closer to breaking the Yankees’ single season home run record of 61— set by former Yankee great, Roger Maris. Now with just under 15 games left in the regular season, statistics point to yes, he will become the all-time leader in home runs. But now the question is: by how much? 

Perhaps one of the bigger stories that came out of the beginning of the season this year was Judge’s decline to a contract extension worth— $213.5 million for seven years—hours before opening day this season. That rejection set a tone not just for the Yankees’ front office, but for Judge himself, who is set to become a free agent this offseason and who decided to bet on himself. As the season has progressed, it seems like Judge did make the right decision by betting on himself, which could give him one of the biggest, if not the biggest yearly salary for a position player come the offseason. 

At the start, the 2022 Yankees were on another level. Before the All-Star break in mid- July, they were on pace to end the season with the best record in all of baseball with their All-Star player in Judge leading the charge. Now since the All-Star break, those notable titles of having the best record in baseball and being compared to the 1998 World Series Champion Yankees have vanished, but one man has come through the smoke and has carried a struggling team on his back throughout the hot summer days.

When the American League MVP award is given to a player once the regular season is finished, the vote should be unanimous. Aside from just powering the ball out of the park as he is chasing a home run title, Judge has been putting on a show and has phenomenal stats and numbers to back up his MVP case. Judge is not only leading the major leagues in home runs (59) right now, but he is also leading the league in WAR— wins above replacement— (10.4), runs scored (122), RBIs (127), OBP— on base percentage— (.419), SLG— slugging percent— (.701), OPS— on base percentage plus slugging— (1.120), OPS+ (2013, total bases (368), and intentional walks (17). On top of leading the major leagues in all of those categories, Judge is also leading the American League in walks (92). He is even making a run for the triple crown, (leading the league in home runs, RBIs and batting average)and most recently in the Yankees’ series in Milwaukee, (which Judge played a huge part in) the triple crown doesn’t seem so far fetched as long as he keeps his pace for batting average. Currently, he is leading both the home run and RBIs category, and is third in batting average in the American League (.316). 

Currently in the MVP race, there is really only one other player who is noteworthy for taking the title as well. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is once again having a phenomenal season, and continuing his historic career as both a pitcher and a batter. Ohtani won the MVP award for the AL last season and deservedly so. However, with this historic tear that Judge is on— two home runs away from tying a franchise record, three from breaking it— who knows when we will see another season replicating Judge’s offensive performance again. This also goes with how valuable Judge has been to the Yankees all season long, not just statistically speaking, but with his leadership qualities and arguably becoming the face of not just the Yankees, but the face of baseball this season.

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