MILWAUKEE — Aaron Judge is three away. The Yankees slugger hit his 58th home run of the season in the third inning against the Brewers Sunday at American Family Field. He is three shy of the American League record of 61 home runs set by Roger Maris in 1961.
Judge had been held without a home run for three straight games. He had flown out in the first inning. In the third, he went down and got a 92-mile-an-hour sinker from Brewers right-hander Jason Alexander and shot it into the second deck of right field. The home run was an estimated 414 feet, according to StatCast.
He is the first Yankee and just the fourth major league player to hit at least 58 home runs through his club’s first 146 team games, joining Barry Bonds with 63 in 2001, Mark McGwire 62 in 1998 and Sammy Sosa with 59 in 1999 and 58 in 1998.
The 58 homers are the fourth-most in Yankee history behind Maris’ 61 in 1961 and Babe Ruth’s 60 in 1927, 59 in 1921. He is just the 11th big leaguer to hit at least 58 in a season and just the third player to do it in the last 20 years, joining Giancarlo Stanton, 59 in 2017 with the Marlins and Rayn Howard in 2006.
Judge leads the majors with 58 homers, no other hitter has hit 40 yet this season. He also leads the majors in runs scored (120) and RBI (124). The 29-year-old, who declined an extension at the beginning of this season and will be a free agent after this year’s World Series, is making a case for a Triple Crown. After his third-inning home run, he was hitting .312 — third best in the AL behind Xander Bogaerts and Luis Arraez.
Judge is considered by some the favorite to win the AL MVP this season, but there are others who consider reigning champ Shohei Ohtani the one to beat. Ohtani is 13-8 with a 2.43 ERA and 196 strikeouts over 148.1 innings pitched. He also has 34 home runs and 89 RBI.
Ohtani told reporters that he is having a better season than his 2021 MVP season. Sunday, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that’s nice, but Judge is making a historic run.
“I think Shohei might be having a better season (than 2021), but Judge is having one for the ages…. So it’s two amazing players. Obviously I know it’s obviously a huge point of interest and talking point and people have landed on different sides of the ledger, but I think Aaron is having one for the ages.”