aaron judge yankees
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Say what you want about former MLB player Mark McGwire and the era he played in. Either way, that man knew how to hit home runs. His 583 career dingers currently rank 11th all-time. While he was in Oakland for Dave Stewart’s number retirement, he shared some interesting thoughts on Aaron Judge’s pursuit of home run history, as well as his upcoming trip to free agency.

As this article is written on the morning of September 12th, Judge has 55 home runs to his name. So, he’s just six dingers away from tying Roger Maris for the single-season Yankees record. With 21 games still to play, the odds of him having success are looking good.

McGwire, who broke Maris’ MLB record in 1998, thinks Judge will become the Yankees’ new single-season home run king this year. He thinks Barry Bonds’ record is safe for now, but not for long. Check out what he said (quote via USA Today):

“He’s definitely going to break Maris’ Yankee record, but I truly believe he’ll break Barry’s record, too. I think he’ll finish with at least 65 home runs this year, and then position himself to hit, get to 73 to 74 in the next five to eight years. I really believe he’ll have that opportunity. He’s going to get close to it, and say, ‘Where can I bunch in nine more homers?’ God willing that he stays healthy, he’s going to do that, too.’’

Is it a hot take that McGwire thinks Judge has the potential to eventually break Bonds’ record? Not particularly. What raised my eyebrows from this quote was the timeframe the former slugger attached to it.


The 2023 season will be Judge’s age-31 campaign. It takes a special kind of talent to hit that many homers in a season so late in one’s career. McGwire hit 70 as a 34-year-old and 65 as a 35-year-old. Although he had a little extra help, he knows what a slugger must do to make that happen.

Within the same USA Today article by Bob Nightengale, McGwire also shared that he thinks Judge getting close to the record and having a desire to reach it will play a role in where he eventually signs upon hitting free agency. Could that actually be part of Judge’s decision-making process?

I mean, this seems like a bit of a stretch — especially since we don’t know if McGwire and Judge have talked at all — but I suppose it’s possible. We know the Yankees will try to retain the outfielder, and continuing to play home games at Yankee Stadium would be a great environment for attempting to break home run records.

But if a team like the Giants pursues and signs him, playing home games by the Bay won’t be as conducive to hitting home runs at a historic pace. Bonds did it, though, and since he has a connection to watching that all go down, it might be attractive to him.

Either way, Judge’s trip to free agency (if the Yankees let it get that far) will be fascinating to follow this offseason.

More on ESNY:

Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.