Aaron Judge sets AL home run record: Yankees slugger hits No. 62 to top Roger Maris, break single-season mark

There is a new American League single-season home run king. Tuesday evening New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge swatted his 62nd home run of 2022, breaking a tie with Roger Maris.

Maris of course hit 61 homers with the 1961 Yankees. 

Judge hit his 62nd homer against Texas Rangers righty Jesus Tinoco in the first inning of Game 2 of their doubleheader at Globe Life Field in Arlington. Here is Judge’s milestone blast:

“It’s an incredible honor to get a chance to be associated with one of the Yankee greats, one of the baseball greats,” Judge told MLB.com after hitting his 61st homer. “To be enshrined with them forever, words can’t describe it. That’s one thing that’s so special about the Yankee organization, all the guys that came before us and paved the way, played the game the right way.”

Judge hit his 61st home run to tie Maris last Wednesday and he went 3 for 17 with five walks and seven strikeouts in the five games between Nos. 61 and 62. That includes going 1 for 5 in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, during which Judge slammed his helmet in frustration in the dugout after popping up a hanging slider.

The No. 62 ball landed in Section 31, Row 1, Seat 3, and the fan who caught it was led by security to a safe location where it could be authenticated by MLB. It’s unclear whether the ball will be turned over to the Yankees and Judge, or something else.

Here’s more on Judge becoming the AL’s single-season home run king.

Mom was there (but Maris Jr. wasn’t)

Judge’s mother, Patty, has attended every Yankees game since her son hit his 59th home run on Sept. 18. She went from Yankee Stadium to Toronto, back to Yankee Stadium, then to Texas for this final regular season series. And when Judge hit the milestone homer Tuesday, his mother was left speechless.

Not at the ballpark Tuesday: Roger Maris Jr. The predecessor’s son did not travel to Texas to watch Judge chase his 62nd homer, though he did attend New York’s previous 12 games as Judge chased home runs No. 60 and 61 (and 62). For what it’s worth, Maris Jr. has not been shy about saying he would consider the Judge the “clean” home run king once he hit No. 62.

“I think (Judge breaking the record) means a lot not just for me, but for a lot of people,” Maris Jr. said about Judge hitting his 61st home run. “He’s clean, he’s a Yankee, he plays the game the right way. I think he gives people a chance to look at somebody who should be revered for hitting 62 home runs and not just as a guy who did it in the American League. He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ. That’s really who he is if he hits 62 and I think that’s what needs to happen. I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”  

The new AL home run leaderboard

As noted, Judge has now hit more home runs than any player in the American League’s 122-year history. Here is the new AL single-season home run leaderboard:

  1. Aaron Judge, 2022 Yankees: 62 (and counting)
  2. Roger Maris, 1961 Yankees: 61
  3. Babe Ruth, 1927 Yankees: 60
  4. Babe Ruth, 1921 Yankees: 59
  5. Hank Greenberg, 1938 Tigers: 58
  6. Jimmie Foxx, 1932 Athletics: 58

Only Barry Bonds (73 in 2001), Mark McGwire (70 in 1998 and 65 in 1999) and Sammy Sosa (66 in 1998, 64 in 2001 and 63 in 1999) have hit more home runs in a season than Judge, and they all played in the National League.

As for 2022, Judge is lapping the field in home runs. Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber is a distant second in baseball with 46 homers. No player has led baseball by as many as 16 home runs since 1932, when Foxx hit 58 and Ruth was the runner-up with 41. Simply put, this is one of the most dominant home run seasons in the history of the sport.

The Triple Crown watch

Oh by the way, Judge is also chasing a Triple Crown, and the focus now shifts there with No. 62 out of the way. Judge has massive leads in home runs and RBI, as you’d expect. He is chasing Twins infielder Luis Arraez for the batting tile. Here’s the batting race entering play Tuesday:

  1. Luis Arraez, Twins: .315
  2. Aaron Judge, Yankees: .311
  3. Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox: .305
  4. Several tied at .304

Catching Arraez will be a real challenge with only one game remaining in the regular season. Just the fact Judge is in the running for the Triple Crown — that he’s batting well over .300 while hitting 60-plus homers — is remarkable. Miguel Cabrera won baseball’s last Triple Crown in 2012.

No. 63?

Judge was removed from Tuesday’s game in the bottom of the second inning. He had started 55 consecutive games, a Ripkenian streak by the standards of the Yankees and their load management approach, and manager Aaron Boone recently said he hoped to give Judge a day off before the end of the season. He was even noncommittal about playing him in Game 2 of the doubleheader before Judge landed in the lineup.

The Yankees do have one game remaining, however, and Judge could pad his home run total in the season finale Wednesday. The Rangers are scheduled to start righty Glenn Otto, a former Yankees prospect who went to Texas in the Joey Gallo trade, in Wednesday’s game. Judge is 0 for 3 against Otto in his career. 

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