Yankees' Aaron Judge hits 58th and 59th home runs, moves within 2 of tying Roger Maris' single-season AL record

Aaron Judge crushed his 58th and 59th homers of the season Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers. Judge's first blast came off Jason Alexander in the third inning.

With the New York Yankees trailing 4-1, Judge clobbered a sinker for an opposite-field blast that landed in the second row at American Family Field.

His second shot came with the Yankees leading 9-4. Judge once again hit a solo shot, this time to lengthen the Yankees' lead.

He's now two shy of tying Roger Maris' American League record of 61 home runs.

What home run records are Aaron Judge chasing?

While Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire trounced Maris’ longstanding record in their late '90s, early 2000s slugfests, they all did so in the National League (and under a cloud of performance-enhancing drug suspicion). The Yankees great’s mark, 61, still rules in the AL.

In fact, the top AL home run seasons are mostly held by the likes of Roger Maris, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx and Hank Greenberg. Judge's 2022 is tied for fourth. Only Maris and Ruth have hit more. Prior to Judge, the closest any modern player had come to beating Maris was Alex Rodriguez’s 57-homer campaign for the 2002 Texas Rangers.

Maris and Ruth (in 1927) have the only 60-homer seasons in Yankees history, with Ruth also logging a 59-homer year in 1921. Judge himself was the last Yankee to surpass the 50-homer threshold, during his Rookie of the Year-winning 2017.

Aaron Judge is slugging at a pace unseen since baseball's frenzied steroid era, threatening to eclipse Roger Maris' hallowed Yankees and AL record of 61 home runs in a season. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Aaron Judge is slugging at a pace unseen since baseball's frenzied steroid era, threatening to eclipse Roger Maris' hallowed Yankees and AL record of 61 home runs in a season. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Maris' son says 61 is the 'real record.' Judge views Bonds' 73 as the mark

The Maris family was deeply involved in the 1998 home run chase that saw 61 fall for the first time. They were on hand to witness Mark McGwire hit No. 62. When McGwire's use of performance-enhancing drugs was reported, the former Cardinals slugger reportedly called Maris' widow to apologize.

Kevin Maris, Roger's second son, told New York Magazine that he would be "excited" for Aaron Judge if he eclipses his father's legendary 1961 season. He also waded into the now decades-old argument over whether the home run barrages of Bonds, Sosa and McGwire — allegedly aided by steroids — should be immortalized in the record books.

"I think public opinion says that Dad really has the record," Kevin Maris said. "How can you celebrate people that have been known to cheat the game? It’s not done in any other sport. So I’d have to go with the court of public opinion."

For his part, Judge isn't swayed. He told Sports Illustrated he considers Bonds the single-season home run king. It's worth remembering Judge grew up in Northern California while Bonds was bashing in San Francisco, and was 9 years old during the 2001 season.

Is there other history on the line?

At times, Judge has flown 20 homers clear of second place on the MLB home run leaderboard, a feat not seen since 1928.

Oh and by the way, Judge is suddenly making a run at the Triple Crown. He leads comfortably in homers (duh) and RBIs. A few AL hitters are outpacing him in batting average, but it's still possible he could claim another hallowed honor.

Betting on Aaron Judge

Should you be so inclined, there are several futures bets to be made on Judge’s prodigious MVP and home run total odds but, like with many things in life, you’ll have to spend money to make money. Judge currently sports a -5000 moneyline at BetMGM to win the AL MVP and -400 to hit more than 61.5 homers. So, to potentially win $10 on an MVP bet, you would need to wager $500, while to win $10 on the home run total bet, you would need to put up $40.

How will Aaron Judge’s season affect free agency?

The Yankees made what appeared to be a fairly reasonable contract offer before the season started — seven years, $213.5 million that would have begun in 2023. Judge and the Yankees settled on a $19 million salary for 2022 shortly before they were due to go to arbitration. Judge, of course, was always well within his rights to push toward the free agent market. And as it turns out, he made the right decision.

His 2022 has been a roaring success, one of the most glorious contract year wins in recent memory. While the Yankees season as a whole has cooled off recently, Judge is still barreling toward a monster payday. At this point, the homer history doesn’t matter so much as sustaining his overall excellence and avoiding serious injury.

When he hits the market this winter, he could reasonably command something in the neighborhood of $300 million. The main limiting factor is his age. He’ll turn 31 in April, which puts a cap on the length most teams would be willing to sign up for.

Beyond the Yankees, his potential suitors include the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets and Boston Red Sox.