By Weston Blasi
Aaron Judge’s at-bats have been must-see TV as the New York Yankees star outfielder just broke the American League home-run record of 61, set by Roger Maris in 1961.
Judge hit his 62nd home run on Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers deep into the stands in left field.
Before Maris, Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in a single season. In Ruth’s historic year, there were 154 games in the season, while Judge and Maris’s had 162 games. The Maris family has attended Yankees game recently, hoping to be there for the record-breaking performance. The only players in history who have hit more than 61 home runs in a single season played in the National League and have been linked to steroid use .
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Judge , 30, has a .311 batting average and 131 runs batted in through Tuesday night, one of baseball’s brightest stars and on the inside track to be named the American League’s MVP for 2022, according to odds from DraftKings /zigman2/quotes/213120645/composite DKNG -1.72% Sportsbook.
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But despite Judge’s stellar career and standout 2022 season — he’s led the Yankees to the second best record in the league and baseball’s sixth best and has a very realistic shot at winning baseball’s first triple crown since Miguel Cabrera did it in 2012 (which, in turn, was the first since those of Carl Yastrzemski and Frank Robinson in the mid-1960s) — he has not yet truly cashed in. (The triple crown means leading the league in home runs, batting average and runs batted in for the season.)
In his seven seasons as a big leaguer, Judge has racked up just $36 million in contract earnings, according to Spotrac , for a career average annual salary of $5.14 million, not appreciably higher than the game’s current average of $4.4 million. One reason is that Judge debuted with the Yankees in 2017 at a more advanced age, 25, than the typical rookie, pushing back the age at which Judge would first qualify for free agency. Judge is the 54th highest paid player this season at $19 million.
Judge, with his career .284 batting average and 220 career home runs, is set to capitalize on his accomplishments after this season, when he will be an unrestricted free agent and able to sign with any team for any amount of money that he and his agent can negotiate. Judge turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million extension before this season, according to Yankees President Brian Cashman , in hopes of earning more in free agency.
Judge should be poised to earn hundreds of millions of dollars on a new contract, whether it’s from the Yankees or another team, in the offseason, but how much might it be worth?
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In a September story for ESPN, Kiley McDaniel polled 14 MLB executives on the potential dollar amounts for Judge’s upcoming contract. The range those baseball leaders gave was as “little” as $259 million to as high as $375 million for anywhere from 7 to 10 years.
According to Spotrac , Judge’s market value is a contract of 8-years, $303 million.
While likely underpaid for his historic 2022 season, Judge did have the largest number of endorsements in baseball last year, according to sports and entertainment data platform SponsorUnited . Judge has endorsement deals with T-Mobile /zigman2/quotes/204659678/composite TMUS +0.55% , Disney’s /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS +0.93% Hulu, Pepsi /zigman2/quotes/208744353/composite PEP -0.03% , Adidas /zigman2/quotes/206448829/delayed XE:ADS +1.41% /zigman2/quotes/203671926/delayed ADDYY -2.26% , Oakley and JBL.