Aaron Judge is most likely going to become the new American League home run king, and he has a very good chance to do it this week.
He is three homers away from breaking Roger Maris' record of 61 hit in a season 61 years ago — Judge has been averaging about a home run every other game and has 16 games to be at the top of the record books.
Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees is congratulated by teammates after hitting a walk-off home run against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium in New York on July 28, 2022. (Adam Hunger/Getty Images / Getty Images)
Judge's next three home runs will all be historic. His next home run will make him the sixth player in MLB history to hit 60 home runs in a season, his 61st will obviously tie Maris, and his 62nd will surpass him.
Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa surpassed Maris more than 20 years ago, but their links to performance-enhancing drugs have tarnished their legacies to many fans who believe that Judge would become the true record holder.
Because of that, experts think Judge's next three home run balls, especially his 62nd, can go for hefty prices.
"His 62nd home run would be a new all-time American League record and whatever the final home run of the season is will be the new American League standard," Ken Goldin of Goldin Auctions told Action Network. "Add to the fact that he is a very popular Yankee and there is no controversy surrounding him. I’d say the 60th is worth $150,000, the 61st is worth $250,000, and the 62nd and the all-time final home run ball are each worth $500,000."
Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees rounds the bases after his fourth-inning home run against the Minnesota Twins during game one of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium in New York on Sept. 7, 2022. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images / Getty Images)
However, some other auctioneers think $500,000 is a steal.
Brandon Steiner, owner of Steiner Sports Memorabilia, told ESPN New York the ball could be worth $2.5 million, but the owner of Brigandi Coins & Collectibles thinks 62 can set an all-time record because he'd be doing so cleanly.
"Perhaps some collectors believe that Bonds, McGwire and Sosa are the real home run champions. But we discredit that notion for obvious reasons," Chris Brigandi said. "With that said, we can expect Judge’s 60th to be valued at $500,000-plus, 61st at $2 million-plus, 62 and record-setting at $5-$10 million."
That would shatter the price of McGwire's 70th home run from back in 1998, which was the record until Bonds broke it in 2001.
Todd McFarlane bought it for a little more than $3 million shortly after, but had it been known at the time that McGwire was linked to PEDs, it would have been much less expensive — Bonds' 756th home run, which broke Hank Aaron's career record of 755 homers, sold for just $752,467 to Marc Ecko. Bonds' 762nd homer, which is now the record, sold for $282,900.
It's unclear how much Bonds' 71st homer in 2001 was sold for, if it ever was, but 73 was sold for $517,500. The second-most expensive ball ever sold was Babe Ruth's home run in the 1933 All Star Game.
The chase has increased Yankees ticket prices immensely, with average prices for field level seats in left field averaging $960 on StubHub.
Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees hits a home run against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium in New York on Sept. 7, 2022. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images / Getty Images)
Judge is likely to become the first person to hit 60 in a season since both Bonds and Sosa did so in 2001.