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MLB: The most home runs in a season

New York Yankees ace Aaron Judge is having a very special season, so far he has hit 57 home runs with 123 runs batted in and a batting average of .310.

He is a clear favourite for the American League Most Valuable Player award at  -1100 and add to his rookie of the year award in 2017, but could he break the home run record in the regular season?

Home Run blitz

In mid-August Judge went on a season-high run of nine games in a row without a home run, but he followed that drought with plenty of homers in his next 14 games to put him back on the right track on a record pace.

Judge is now on 57 home runs after 141 games, a 162-game pace which would see Judge eclipse Roger Maris' American League record of 61, although it's unlikely that he will beat Barry Bonds' home run record of 73 in 2001.

Judge is only the fourth player in MLB history to hit plus-55 home runs and steal 15-plus bases in a single season - joining Babe Ruth in 1921, Sammy Sosa in 1998 and Ken Griffey-Jnr (1997-98) on the all-time list.

The records underneath are Mark McGwire in 1998 hitting 70 home runs, with Sosa hitting 66 in the same year. It would take something special for Judge to break the Bonds' record, however the predictions have him taking over the Maris AL record.

Judge has hit 18 home runs more than his next competitor - he entered last weekend slugging .683, a full 100 points ahead of the next-best batter in the American League, Houston’s Yordan Alvarez.

Is Judge carrying his team?

Judge has maintained his production despite the rest of the Yankees line-up crumbling around him.

The group has lost Anthony Rizzo and DJ LeMahieu to the injured list in recent weeks, with Giancarlo Stanton back in the ranks from his injury concern since August.

The injuries that are happening for the Yankees only make Judge's standout season more impressive. It may also make pitchers avoid pitching to him.

Judge was walked intentionally five times in August and, after Judge homered twice in two games against Minnesota, the Twins opted for a new strategy, with four intentional walks over the remainder of the season.

Not every team will follow that blueprint. The Tampa Bay Rays, for example, maintained a more principled opposition to intentional walks. They don't like to load the bases, especially at Yankee Stadium, as it gives the Bronx Bombers more ammunition.

Pitching coach Kyle Snyder spoke to the official Rays' website about Judge and said: "He's the best hitter in baseball right now and he's going to make a run at the Triple Crown.

"In certain circumstances and situations we're still very comfortable and confident in our ability to control the count early, and give ourselves the best chance to get him out."

Not letting the future control the now

Prior to the 2022 season, Judge was unsuccessful in negotiating a long-term contract with the Yankees.

The Bronx Bombers offered Judge a $213.5million, seven-year deal, however Judge deemed this not enough and avoided salary arbitration by accepting a one-year $19 million contract and will hit free agency at the end of the season.

So where would he go if he leaves Yankee Stadium? Who would be able to afford his likely monster salary? The dark horse candidates would be crosstown rivals, the New York Mets.

They can certainly afford him and will definitely make an offer in the winter. Would Judge move to the Mets? It's unlikely.

Would Judge move to the Red Sox? Again, that's unlikely. However, they would certainly need a middle-order bat and give the fans something to cheer after such a disappointing season this year.

Rangers look like a decent option

The Texas Rangers could be a good candidate for Judge. They spent big on two free agents after 2021 in Marcus Siemien and Corey Seager with deals worth a total of $500m.

It's not happened for the Rangers this season and they need to give their fanbase an injection of optimism for 2023.

Would Judge move to the West Coast? The San Francisco Giants are starting to make themselves heard in the big contracts after shedding some payroll in recent seasons.

The 2021 National League West Division Champions are desperate to close the gap on the Los Angeles Dodgers, having been usurped by the San Diego Padres this season.

Speaking of the Dodgers, never count them out with regards to big contracts. The glamour franchise are looking to add a World Series this season to add to their 2020 crown.

I see the Dodgers in second place behind the Yankees in handing a more than acceptable deal to Judge.

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