Baseball fans could be treated to a double dose of home run immortality this week, as both Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols are closing in on historic milestones.
In the Bronx, Judge’s incredible season for the New York Yankees continues, as he enters the game Tuesday with 59 home runs for the season. Judge hit a pair of home runs for the New York Yankees on Sunday, in the Yankees’ 12-8 victory over the Yankees. milwaukee brewersleaving him just two short of Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, set in 1961.
Judge’s second home run on Sunday was undoubted from the start, as you can see from Brewers pitcher Luis Perdomo’s reaction:
As you may hear from the crowd after that shot to the moon, the calls for Judge to win the AL MVP award continue to grow. judge leads the league in a number of offensive categories, including on base percentage (.419), slugging percentage (.701) and on base plus slugging percentage (1,120). His 59 home runs lead the majors and also put him 20 home runs ahead of Kyle Schwarber, who ranks second in baseball with 39 home runs.
But perhaps the best case for Judge’s MVP candidacy comes through Wins Above Replacement. Going into play Tuesday, Judge’s WAR of 9.6 lead the leagueputting him ahead of Shoehei Ohtani’s mark of 8.7.
It’s also the highest since the 10.7 posted by Mookie Betts during the 2018 season, when he won MVP.
Then there’s Pujols, who is closing in on one of the most elite clubs in baseball: the 700 club.
Currently, that elite club has just three members: Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. Pujols is about to join them. After a slow start to the season, Pujols clinched at the start of August and has 12 home runs since August 10. On that date, Pujols took a solo shot against Austin Gomber of the colorado rocky mountainskicking off his late-season hot streak at the plate.
On Friday night, Pujols launched this rocket to the deep left of Raynel Espinal from the Cincinnati Redsgiving him 19 home runs on the season, and 698 for his career:
Next week should give Judge ample opportunities to match Maris’ mark. The Yankees kick off a homestay tonight, beginning with a quick two-game series with the pittsburgh pirates. The Pirates are expected to start Luis Ortiz on the mound Tuesday night, having called him up to Pittsburgh following injuries to JT Brubaker and Roansy Contreras on Wednesday.
Judge has yet to face any pitchers this year, but Ortiz, the young llama pitcher, has moved between AA, AAA and the Pirates this season. Contreras, another younger arm in the Pittsburgh organization, has spent time with both AAA and the Major League club this season. In just over 83 innings of work with the Pirates, Contreras has allowed ten home runs.
If Judge gets through this two-game series with the Pirates without hitting another home run, he’ll get his chance against the bitter rival Yankees when the Boston Red Sox they come to town for a four-game series, the final meeting between the rivals this season. Judge has 5 home runs in 14 games against Boston this season, and two of them were against Nick Pivettascheduled to start with the Red Sox on Saturday.
Pujols could face a more difficult road to reach his milestone, at least in the first part of the week. The Cardinals head west to kick off a West Coast road trip, starting with three games against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mike Clevinger gets the ball for the Padres on Tuesday night, and Pujols has just one hit in his 14 career at-bats. Against him. Wednesday night he’ll see left-hander Blake Snell in the San Diego pothole, and Pujols has only one hit against Snell in his 10 career at-bats.