Many years have passed since the last home run record was broken by Roger Maris in 1961. Over the course of time, a few players have stirred the pot in the chase for American League history. However, all that came close eventually fell short of the record by the end of their respective season. Right fielder for the New York Yankees, Aaron Judge is currently on pace to break the record of 61. This would be the first time in two decades that a player came close.
Alex Rodriguez’s 2002 campaign may come to mind for some back when he played for the Texas Rangers. He managed to hit 57 home runs which is nothing to scoff at, but failed to reach the magic number of 62. Other’s have turned heads at the All-Star break with impressive home run paces. Some that could show potential to even break the number that Barry Bonds set in 2001 with 73. Unfortunately, they eventually cooled off in the second half and simply couldn’t reach the potentially unbreakable record. Chris Davis was the most recent to headline this with his 37 home runs at the All-Star break in 2013. His 37 at the break kept pace with Bonds’ 2001 season almost perfectly. Because of this, he garnered attention throughout the first and second half, but he soon fell off pace in the month of August and September.
Can Judge Reach 61?
However, one that has kept a very consistent pace throughout this season is No. 99 for the New York Yankees. Aaron Judge is currently on pace to break the record of 61 set by Roger Maris in 1961. The saying 61 in ’61 could soon go by the wayside, as the 6’7, 282 lb superstar right fielder is closing in on Maris’ record number.
It seems like every day he hits another home run, and currently is well on pace to break the record. As with many records, consistency is key, and so far Judge has proven to be very consistent throughout the team’s skyline highs and deep lows during the 2022 season. Over the season’s progression, fans critiquing of the Yankees have become more rampant. Nothing seems to be going well within both the organization and the fan base. But the silver lining throughout this storm is what Judge has been doing with a bat in his hand.
Measured by MLB.com’s, Stat-cast, he is currently on pace for 65 home runs. He hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down either. His last three games played have all warranted a home run being sent over the fence at prodigious lengths. Whether he admits it or not, his eyes are set on this record, because it’s his ticket to into the record books once again.
His Time in the Record Books
His record-breaking 52 home run rookie season in 2017, shattered Mark McGwire’s rookie mark of 49 in 1987. However, just two years later, a rookie for the New York Mets, Pete Alonso, came out of nowhere and amassed 53 home runs in his debut season. Thus, moving Judge down to the number two spot in the rookie record category for home runs.
Current Yankee Struggles
One would have to imagine that Judge has a number of feelings in his head as this regular season is coming to a close. The Yankees had a potentially historic first half of the season, garnering 52 wins in their first 70 games. However, they have since fallen off the face of the Earth, and have struggled to create any formidable offense. The only one that has shown any prowess at the plate is Judge himself. He has become essentially the entire offense for the struggling team. At the All-Star break, they seemed to be an unstoppable force that would proceed to steamroll their way to the World Series. Since then, they have made it hard-pressed for anyone to imagine them making a strong run to even get a spot in the playoffs.
The current Yankee roster has been notorious for being plagued by injuries at seemingly the worst time of the year. These problems always seem to hit when the playoff are closer than ever. While Judge’s hopes of winning a World Series ring this season have probably died down, he still has Maris’ record to chase before the end of the regular season.
From Dominance to Dominated
Not only is the chase for the AL home run record good for Judge, but also the fans watching. All who have been forced to watch the Yankees break down completely in front of their collectively upset faces. Two months ago, hopes were brought to Yankee fans of the potential of breaking the single-season win record for an MLB team. That record was set by the Seattle Mariners in 2001 with 116, but since then, that hope has completely diminished.
With only 27 games left in the season, obtaining that record would be a near impossibility. The total collapse of the dominance that had earlier in the season has truly left the team. The unfortunate truth is that its possible they won’t get first place in a division that they once lead by over 16 games.
What Will Happen Next?
It seems that nearly every day the Yankees have a story of a player landing on the IL or somehow they blew a lead in the late part of a ballgame. Twitter consistently blows up with users in collective frustration with how poorly the team has been playing. But on the flip side of that disappointment, there’s always a smile that comes across their face when they see the next homer that Judge hit. He seems to be the only beacon of hope in a seemingly imploding team. And that beacon has reached not just Yankee fans, but everyone in the league because his a free agent at the end of the season. Only time will tell if he will chase records (potentially one’s he set himself) in pinstripes or another uniform. But one thing is for sure, everyone will watch when he steps up to the plate regardless.
Aaron Judge is currently on pace for the record of 61
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Featured image courtesy of Erin Clark/ Report Door
1st image courtesy of Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
Additional image courtesy of Mike Puma/ New York Post
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