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Roger Maris has company.
Aaron Judge hit his 61st of the season on Wednesday, tying Maris for the most home runs in a single season by an American League player.
It was also a clutch shot. The two-run outburst gave the Yanks a 5-3 lead over the Blue Jays in the top of the seventh inning.
Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa each surpassed Maris between 1998 and 2001. But, due to their ties to performance-enhancing drugs, many consider 61 to be the true all-time high. Regardless, Judge is only the fifth player to reach 61 in a season in the game’s history.
The judge said he believed “73 (from 2001) is Bonds’ record”. But what he just accomplished, even Babe Ruth didn’t. Ruth’s career peak was 60.
AARON JUDGE’S 62ND BALL RUN WILL BE MORE VALID THAN ALBERT PUJOLS’ 700TH, SAYS MEMORY EXPERT
Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that Judge tied the record by 10 fewer games than Maris. He hit his 60th homer on September 20 in his 143rd game of the season. It took Ruth 150 games to do it.
Sixty-one has also become a strange phenomenon in Yankees and baseball lore. Maris hit 61 homers in 1961 in his 161st game. Judge tied the record 61 years later, and he could break it on E. 161st Street in the Bronx later this week.
Judge wears number 99. Maris wears 9.
He still has seven games after Wednesday night to break it now.
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The 30-year-old is expected to be a free agent this offseason after turning down an eight-year, $230.5 million offer from the Yankees before the season. All he has done since turning down that offer is have one of the best offensive seasons the game has ever seen and become the favorite for the AL MVP award.
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Heading into Tuesday’s game, Judge led the majors in home runs, home base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.693), total bases (380) and runs scored (128). His .314 batting average and 128 RBI also lead the American League, earning him the American League Triple Crown. Its 105 steps also lead the AL.
Talk about winning a bet on yourself.