Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees hit his 54th home run of the season Monday night, and the New York Times explains the context: Judge is now on track to surpass the coveted American League record of 61 homers set by the legendary Roger Maris in 1961. It's true that three National Leaguers (Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa) hit more home runs between 1998 and 2001, but the Maris record "has deep historical resonance," notes the Times. A big part of the reason is that the NL trio are suspected of doping, and thus their MLB records are "murky" in the words of the Guardian and downright "inauthentic," per the New York Post.
The Guardian and the Times call attention to another remarkable part of the 30-year-old Judge's story line. Before the season, he turned down a $213.5 million deal from the Yankees, which would have been one of the largest contracts in baseball history, because he thought he could prove he was worth more in this season before free agency. "That bet is paying dividends," per the Guardian. What's more, he is leading the league in home runs in a year with a relatively low number of them—the hitter with the second-most homers has 36. Judge won't discuss the Maris record with reporters, saying that his entire focus is on helping the Yankees make the playoffs. (Read more New York Yankees stories.)