Is No. 62 enough for Mr. All Rise to have at least some claim to Home Run King status, or does he truly need to beat Barry Bonds? Boardroom convenes the Hardball Roundtable to deliver a verdict.
In these heady days of See Ya! and Se-Va-Se-Va-Se-Fue, the conversation around the New York Yankees‘ World Series chances has been entirely, resoundingly drowned out by talk of legacy, asterisks, and the 1-of-1 mythology of baseball. Sure, a Commissioner’s Trophy has eluded the pinstriped denizens of the South Bronx for a spit-takey span of 13 years now, but put your rhetoric and blame games and stinky recriminations about the Jordan Montgomery trade back in the drawer — because here comes the Judge.
Aaron Judge overcame a deluge of bases on balls to earn home run No. 61 this week, tying Roger Maris not just for the single-season records both in Yankee lore and the American League at large, but among all players in MLB history never linked one way or another to performance-enhancing drugs.
With that in mind, we all bought gavels on eBay in order to convene our second Hardball Roundtable featuring Russell Steinberg, Shlomo Sprung, Anthony Puccio, Chuck McMahon, Michael Loré, and Sam Dunn to answer two big questions:
- How many home runs does Aaron Judge have to hit this season for you to consider him the Home Run King?
- How many homers will Judge actually have when the 2022 regular season ends?
And here we go: Let’s adjudicate some home run history.
How Many HRs Does Judge Need for You to Consider Him Home Run King?
RUSSELL STEINBERG: 74. 73 is the Major League record, and Barry Bonds is the Home Run King until someone hits 74 — but that’s not what we’re celebrating here. By hitting home run No. 61 on Wednesday, Judge tied Roger Maris for the American League home run record and the Yankees’ home run record — two marks that have stood for, coincidentally, 61 years.
That’s impressive and amazing on its own, and yes, we can note that Judge is now tied for the most home runs ever in a season by a non-suspected steroid user. I still think that’s significant, even if it doesn’t make him the Home Run King.
SHLOMO SPRUNG: Aaron Judge has to hit 62 home runs to be the Home Run King in the Sprung household. Like Outkast, I like my home run records so fresh, so clean.
CJ McMAHON: 73 — the same number of home runs as the current Home Run King, Barry Lamar Bonds.
Sure, we can dispute the impact PEDs had on Bond’s ridiculous feat, but you still have to know when to swing the bat. For now, let’s consider Judge the heir apparent to the Home Run King’s crown , but until he hits the same number of homers in a season as No. 25, he should still be expected to kneel to Bonds like the rest of us would.
SAM DUNN: If he hits 69, he’d be some sort of king. Worthy of a scepter, at the very least. And think of the endorsement deals that will come pouring in. The Xiaflex carrot could hold nary a candle.
ANTHONY PUCCIO: 74. I understand both sides here, but it’s hard for me to look past an entire era of baseball. And a fun one at that. If Bonds wasn’t THAT good, would we even be talking about this? Big Papi reportedly took them. Manny Ramirez, too — but nobody talks about that when discussing their legacies, particularly the run to the ‘04 World Series.
MICHAEL LORÉ: Aaron Judge is already MY Home Run King, and not only because I’m a biased Yankees fan, but because the only players ahead of him on MLB’s season-single longball list — Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa — all have their records and legacies tainted by links to performance-enhancing drugs. You can’t not take that into consideration as you analyze the game’s best home run hitters. Judge would solidify his place on that list and in the record books with his 62nd home run, which would also give him one more than Roger Maris’ single-season AL record.
How Many Homers Will Aaron Judge Finish With in 2022?
SS: Like the number of basketball teams there should be in the Division I NCAA Basketball Tournaments: 64.
CM: This season, Judge will hit 63 home runs — an incredible accolade worthy of celebration!
RS: 69. It might feel a little out of reach right now, but it’s still nice.
SD: Now that the dual chases for the Bambino and Maris can no longer take on a life of their own, he will resume something closer to his season-long dinger pace. With nothing else to play for than glory, pencil this large upcoming free agent man for 63.
ML: Hitting No. 61 was quite a struggle for Judge; he didn’t play poorly by any means, but we’ve become so used to seeing highlights of him hitting at least one longball on a seemingly nightly basis that it was somewhat strange he went so long — what was it, seven games? — between Nos. 60 and 61.
With the Yankees already having clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage for the AL Division Series, I’d anticipate Judge gets a little rest ahead of the postseason, especially given New York’s recent playoff struggles. He’ll end his regular season at a record-setting 62 home runs … hopefully saving some more for the playoffs.
AP: 62. I think he gets it out of the way and the Yankees give him a well-earned break before the postseason.
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