Aaron Judge has hit 25 home runs this season. If the Yankees’ slugger continues at this torrid contract year pace, he has a chance to surpass the 61 home runs Roger Maris hit in 1961 — a total that stood as the Major League record until Mark McGwire (and then Barry Bonds) broke it with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.
If Judge hits 62 or more home runs outside of the Steroid Era, he will be the clear-cut franchise single-season leader. But should he be considered baseball’s rightful home run king? Mike Francesa says no.
“The problem is, steroids or no steroids, these guys dismantled the 61 homers,” the WFAN legend said on his latest BetRivers podcast.
“I know it’s hard to take, but you can’t look at Maris as the regular season home run champ. He’s just not. You can’t ignore those records.”
McGwire broke Maris’ record in 1998, finishing the season with 70 home runs. Bonds then hit 73 homers in 2001. He is also the all-time home run leader with 762 in his career. McGwire also hit 65 home runs in 1999, while Sammy Sosa surpassed Maris three times — 66 homers in 1998, 63 in 1999 and 64 in 2001.
Babe Ruth is the only other player to hit 60 home runs in a year; his 1927 season stood as the record for 34 years. Judge’s teammate, Giancarlo Stanton, is the last man to hit 59 home runs in a season. He accomplished the feat in 2017 while with the Marlins. Judge hit 52 that season for the Yankees.
Ruth also had 59 home runs in 1921. Mickey Mantle and Alex Rodriguez hit 54 home runs in 1961 and 2007, respectively, for the Yankees. Ruth hit 54 in 1920 and 1928.
“I don’t know what the steroids meant. None of us do. And it has really sullied the sport,” Francesa said. “It’s made dealing with these records very difficult. When it’s not the record, it’s hard to say it is. Even though the guys used steroids to get there.”
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]