Aaron Judge’s 61st homer completes year of MLB possession

When someone writes the history of the 2022 baseball season, Aaron Judge’s name better appear in the first sentence of the first paragraph. He is the main character of the 162 game drama. Shohei Ohtani, Paul Goldschmidt, Justin Verlander, Sandy Alcantara and others played strong supporting roles, but there’s no debating who’s better.

From the time Judge declined the Yankees’ $213.5 million offer before Opening Day, he became an owner this season. His 2022 is in the conversation for the best season ever, right there with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1927, Mickey Mantle in 1956, Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 and Bob Gibson in 1968. It’s a one time type season in a generation.

The judge bet on himself. He had inside information, because no one knows him better than himself. He believed that, given his health, he could be the best player in the league, and he not only delivered on that promise, but also had the best clean season in a generation, maybe two. The 61st home run he hit Wednesday night in Toronto to tie Roger Maris added a historic exclamation to a season so good he didn’t even need that big record, which is the real record.

While it’s no surprise that Judge, as a former San Francisco Giants fan from Northern California, pays homage to Barry Bonds, we keep it real in this space. The bond statistics, while extraordinary, are fake news. We know what he was like in Pittsburgh and initially at his home in the Bay Area. He was great, but he wasn’t Ruthian before he took the syringe. We also know that no one improves to the point of ridiculousness in their mid to late thirties – not without medicinal aids.

Aaron Judge watches his 61st home run Wednesday night.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Aaron Judge's 61st homer completes year of MLB possession

The judge did it with hard work, grace and class. It wasn’t done with the help of Victor Conte or some other backstage scoundrel. It’s a season to be admired by all – no asterisks and no questions asked.

The judge did it on his own, and sometimes on hot days it was pretty literal. While the rest of the Yankees floundered and threatened to fall apart, Judge just kept getting better. His 19 homer lead in the majors represents the biggest gap since 1928, when Babe Ruth completed 23 homers ahead of Hack Wilson and Jim Bottomley. The judge is also lapping the ground.

All about Aaron Judge and his pursuit of the home run record:

Beyond the numbers, he’s become an excellent first hitter, a terrific center back, a superb leader, a true captain (even without the title) and, in every way, the best teammate you could ask for.

“He’s a special man having a special season,” said teammate Josh Donaldson.

Ruth practically invented the home run, but Judge passed The Babe. He hit 30 home runs and 31 on the road. Someone once said Yankee Stadium was a Little League park, but Judge’s numbers are actually slightly better on the road. He had 33 homers before the All-Star break, 27 since, which is actually a much better performance, since the All-Star break came late this year after the late start while MLB and the Players Union resolved their disputes. own differences.

Once that was done, Judge and the Yankees sat down and tried to figure it out. But they had a problem. Judge considered himself comparable to the best in the game, the Yankees considered him comparable to Mookie Betts, who may be the best in the game, but doesn’t quite get paid like that. Judge and the Yankees were reportedly separated by nearly $100 million. The judge was right, as it turns out. He is the best, bar none.

Aaron Judge is all smiles after hitting home run No. 61 to tie Roger Maris’ mark.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Aaron Judge's 61st homer completes year of MLB possession

When I recently told a Yankees manager that they should pay Judge however he wanted, he informed me that I would not be a viable candidate to work in the team’s front office. They said they would pay him something that is “extremely competitive” or words to that effect. And maybe it will. Because being a Yankee also benefits him.

But here’s another idea. Pay him what he’s worth. He dominated the season with nonstop heroics, he created more excitement than any Yankee since Mantle, or maybe even Joe DiMaggio or Ruth. It inspired an entire seating section and sold a ton of merchandise. The judge’s chambers are as much a part of the scene as roll call, maybe more.

He is by far the biggest star of the team. Mike Trout has Shohei Ohtani, the miraculous two-way player who will finish second from MVP to Judge. Betts has Freddie Freeman, Clayton Kershaw and a legion of greats. This Yankees team has several outstanding players. Gerrit Cole is a workaholic, even if he is home run sensitive. Anthony Rizzo is a scholar in the box and at first base. Giancarlo Stanton is a threat every time he comes around. Nestor Cortes is an original and a revelation.

But let’s face it. It’s Judge and all the others. It’s like this season, which is all his now. He is owner of the year.

New York Post

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