With 54 home runs to his name before the Yankees play a doubleheader against the Twins on Wednesday, Aaron Judge has already accomplished quite a bit in 2022. He’s set a new single-season career-high for himself, is on the verge of breaking Alex Rodriguez‘s franchise record for right-handed hitters, and is one of a select few in Yankee history with multiple efforts of 50-plus dingers.
New York has plenty of regular season left to play, and Judge is certainly gunning for Roger Maris‘ franchise record of 61 home runs. But what is MLB’s actual single-season home run record, in his eyes? The right-handed slugger gave the only correct answer: Barry Bonds. He said the following to the San Francisco Chronicle:
“Oh, yeah…That’s the record. I watched him do it. I stayed up late watching him do it. That’s the record. No one can take that from him.”
There have been lots of opinions about this over the years. Is it Babe Ruth‘s 60 in 1927 since he accomplished the feat during a 154-game schedule and Maris needed 162? Or is it Bonds’ 73 in 2001 even though he allegedly took performance-enhancing drugs?
Everyone can have their own opinion, but the record books don’t lie. Until the day comes when Bonds’ performance is stricken from said record books, that’s the record. Baseball has changed so much since Ruth’s historic 1927 campaign. Was his feat more impressive than others based on the era in which he played, or could that be said about one of the other players listed above?
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter because regardless of the situation and era, we’ve seen just how hard it is to hit this many home runs during a single season. And yes, it certainly seems like Bonds used PEDs, but did he ever fail a test? I don’t think so. While it’s certainly an advantage, it wasn’t against the rules in MLB during 2001. It’s not Bonds’ fault that the league wasn’t policing usage across baseball.
Either way, as Judge makes an attempt to accomplish some history over the season’s final weeks, it’s nice to know his opinion on MLB’s single-season home run record is the right one.
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Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.