Aaron Judge in pursuit of Roger Maris: Everything to know about Yankees slugger's historic 2022 home run chase

Aaron Judge in pursuit of Roger Maris: Everything to know about Yankees slugger's historic 2022 home run chase

Aaron Judge made MLB history Sept. 20 when he hit his 60th home run of the season. The Yankees outfielder had registered the ninth 60-home run season in MLB history and became just the sixth player to ever do it, joining Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Maris and Babe Ruth.

Judge was characteristically humble after the game, a 9-8 victory sealed by a walk-off Giancarlo Stanton grand slam.

“To get a chance to play baseball at Yankee Stadium, packed house, first-place team, that’s what you dream about,” he told reporters.

Sixty, however, had a lot of other implications for Judge. It meant he was just one home run behind Maris for the American League record set in 1961.

Judge tied Maris on Sept. 28 with a go-ahead home run against the Blue Jays in Toronto. He has less than a week to take sole possession of the record.

MORE: Race for final two NL wild-card spots has been more slog than sprint

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What is MLB’s single-season home run record?

The MLB single-season home run record was set in 2001, when Bonds hit 73 home runs. There was a second 60-home run hitter that season, with Sosa hitting 64 homers.

There is, of course, controversy surrounding Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa, who hold six of the now nine 60-home run seasons, given their participation in the Steroid Era. However, they’re still in the record book even if they were held out of the Hall of Fame, so their numbers still count.

With Judge sitting at 61 with seven games left in the Yankees’ season, he would need a beyond-historic tear to reach Bonds. Some totals are within his grasp, however.

Year Player Team HRs
2001 Barry Bonds Giants 73
1998 Mark McGwire Cardinals 70
1998 Sammy Sosa Cubs 66
1999 Mark McGwire Cardinals 65
2001 Sammy Sosa Cubs 64
1999 Sammy Sosa Cubs 63
1961 Roger Maris Yankees 61
2022 Aaron Judge Yankees 61
1927 Babe Ruth Yankees 60

MORE: Most HRs in a game, season and career in baseball history

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What is the American League single-season home run record?

Judge is in the company of a Yankee legend at 61. He’s tied with Roger Maris for the Yankees — and the American League — record.

The top of the AL home run list begins and ends with the Yankees, and it’s full of baseball royalty. Judge has already passed Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. Maris is simply last on the list.

American League home run leaders

Year Player Team HRs
1961 Roger Maris Yankees 61
2022 Aaron Judge Yankees 61
1927 Babe Ruth Yankees 60
1938 Hank Greenberg Tigers 58
1932 Jimmie Foxx Athletics 58
2002 Alex Rodriguez Rangers 57
1998 Ken Griffey Jr. Mariners 56
1997 Ken Griffey Jr. Mariners 56
2010 Jose Bautista Blue Jays 54
2007 Alex Rodriguez Yankees 54
2006 David Ortiz Red Sox 54
1961 Mickey Mantle Yankees 54
1928 Babe Ruth Yankees 54
1920 Babe Ruth Yankees 54

Aaron Judge

(Getty Images)

Can Aaron Judge win the Triple Crown?

To reiterate just how special this year is for Judge, he’s in position to win the Triple Crown. He leads the American League in home runs and RBIs and is one point off the lead in batting average through Sept. 30.

Judge is batting .314 for the season; the Twins’ Luis Arraez leads the AL at .315.

There hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner since Miguel Cabrera in 2012. Before that, there hadn’t been one since 1967 when Carl Yastrzemski achieved the feat.

Judge is well ahead of Mike Trout in home runs and leads Jose Ramirez by eight RBIs.

MORE: Where Albert Pujols ranks on baseball’s all-time home run list

AL home run leaders

Player Team Total
Aaron Judge Yankees 61
Mike Trout Angels 38
Yordan Alvarez Astros 37
Shohei Ohtani Angels 34
Anthony Santander Orioles 33

AL RBI leaders

Player Team Total
Aaron Judge Yankees 130
Jose Ramirez Guardians 122
Kyle Tucker Astros 104
Adolis Garcia Rangers 98
Yordan Alvarez Astros 96

AL batting average leaders

Player Team AVG
Luis Arraez Twins .315
Aaron Judge Yankees .314
Xander Bogaerts Red Sox .307
Yordan Alvarez Astros .305
Jose Abreu White Sox .304

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Why is Aaron Judge a free agent after this season?

One thing hanging over the Yankees’ heads throughout this historic season is the fact Judge’s contract is up after it.

Before the season began, contract negotiations became very public and slightly contentious, with Yankees general manager Brian Cashman divulging the team’s offer to Judge ahead of Opening Day.

According to Cashman, the Yankees offered Judge a seven-year, $213.5 million extension ($30.5 million per year). 

“We’re all disappointed right now that we can’t be talking about a contract extension today. Not now, but hopefully later,” Cashman said in a press conference.

Both sides would like to be here. I think Aaron Judge doesn’t want to be anywhere but here, and we’d love to make that happen as well.

MORE: How Judge’s home run pace compares to Maris, Bonds & more

Judge was headed toward a salary arbitration hearing — the first for the Yankees since Dellin Betances — before the sides settled at $19 million for 2022, the midpoint between the $21 million Judge filed for and the $17 million the Yankees filed for. Judge can also earn $250,000 for winning AL MVP and World Series MVP.

Judge made it abundantly clear he wouldn’t talk contract during the season, and he has been coy about what the future holds. A viral clip emerged at the All-Star Game, with Judge telling ESPN’s Marly Rivera he hoped a boy named Jacob would be a “Judge fan for life” if he wasn’t on the Yankees next season.

Judge also didn’t dismiss the idea of joining the Red Sox, and he even praised Boston fans.

“It’s the best, they’re some of the best in baseball. They’re going to boo you, they’re going to say some things, they’re going to make you laugh,” Judge said in September.

It’s all part of it. A lot of great history here, and this is one of the best places to play, so it’s always fun going out there and trying to put on a show for them.

“Ooh,” he told reporters when asked about playing in Boston, per Sports Illustrated. “We’ll talk about that at the end of the year.”

While a lot of this is just posturing and Judge not wanting to close any doors, he knows how special this contract season has been. He knows he holds the cards. Now, the 30-year-old superstar is just having fun with it.

Judge has joined Yankees royalty this year, so the ball is in the team’s court. If he passes Maris, wins a Triple Crown or does both, this will be the most incredible contract year in MLB — and possibly sports — history. Mantle is the only player in MLB history to win a Triple Crown with 50-plus home runs (52 in 1956). The records within Judge’s grasp this season continue to pile up.