MLB outfielder Aaron Judge and designated hitter Albert Pujols are about to make history

September 23, 2022
While the MLB playoff push continues ahead of the regular season finale in early October, two sluggers are on their own historic individual quests.
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SOURCE: DANIEL SHIREY/MLB PHOTOS VIA GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: DANIEL SHIREY/MLB PHOTOS VIA GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: While the MLB playoff push continues ahead of the regular season finale in early October, two sluggers are on their own historic individual quests. Time to touch ’em all.

Aaron Judge: The NY Yankees outfielder is just two home runs (HRs) away from breaking Yanks legend Roger Maris’ American League (AL) single-season record of 61 dingers, set in 1961. To put Judge’s power into context, his 60 HRs have him 20 (!!!) ahead of second place. All rise, indeed.

  • And as if the HR chase wasn’t exciting enough, Judge is also vying for MLB’s Triple Crown — when a player leads their league in batting average, HRs and RBI — which has only been awarded twice in the last 55 years.
  • Judge’s campaign for baseball immortality continues tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET against the Yankees’ archrival, the Boston Red Sox, the same team Maris achieved his record-setting feat against. Couldn’t have written it better.

Albert Pujols: After a surge in production during what he’s said will be his final season, the 42-year-old St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter is two HRs away from 700 career blasts, a mark just three players have ever reached.

  • And he’s been red-hot down the stretch — 11 of his 19 long balls this season have come in the last month and a half, helping the Cards stay in playoff contention.
  • Pujols’ next opportunity at the plate will come tonight at 10:10 p.m. ET against his former team, the LA Dodgers.

Zooming out: Judge’s and Pujols’ feats are made even more celebration-worthy by the fact that they aren’t tainted with an asterisk. Many consider Judge’s hunt for the AL HR title as the chase for the “real” all-time mark, given Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — who dominated the HR records in the late ’90s and early 2000s — are known to have used steroids.

  • Although MLB’s “steroids era” bred a deep distrust and disdain for America’s pastime, Judge and Pujols assuage those concerns. Fans can enjoy their efforts and rest assured the superstars are “clean” in their quests. (Literally) knocking it out of the park.
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