Judge on Possibility of Ohtani Breaking His AL Home Run Mark: ‘Records Are Meant to Be Broken’

AP Photo/Ashley Landis
New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge speaks to reporters before a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, July 19, 2023.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — It took 61 years for Roger Maris’ American League season home run record to be broken. Aaron Judge’s hold on the mark could be ended by Shohei Ohtani after one year.

“Records are meant to be broken, It would be exciting for the game if he we went out there and got 63-plus. So, we’ll see what happens,” Judge said on Wednesday before the Yankees faced the Los Angeles Angels.

Ohtani went into Wednesday with 35 homers in 93 games, on pace to hit 60. Judge hit 62 last year, one more than Maris in 1961.

Ohtani set an Angels record with 15 home runs in June and went deep three times in his first five games following the All-Star break. Judge said the biggest hurdle is more mental than physical.

“Physically even like Shohei he can hit 100 home runs, 80 home runs. He’s got that type of talent just like so many other guys in this league, But it’s moments like that, it’s about just mentally being able to block out the noise or lack of noise in those moments,” Judge said.

When it came to comparing swings, Judge said the biggest difference is that he does a leg lift.

“Both of our feet are touching the ground after I do my leg lift and he does a toe tap. We kind of get in similar positions, but he does a good job really coiling around his back hip and just getting a strong position to hit from, just like I try to do on a daily basis,” Judge said. “I think if you look around the league and all the good hitters, you know, some toe tap, some leg lifts, some don’t stride at all, but I think you can kind of cut each swing at a specific moment, we all kind of get in the same position. That’s why I like getting the chance to watch him.”

Judge and Ohtani showed their power during a three-game series last year in Anaheim when both had two home runs. Judge has been sidelined since June 3, when he tore a ligament in his right big toe.

In 49 games this season, Judge is batting .291 with 19 homers and 40 RBIs. He ran the bases on Wednesday before talking to Japanese and LA-based reporters. Manager Aaron Boone said Judge continues to make steady progress, but there still isn’t a timetable on his return.

“The fact that he’s able to run the bases and do these different things is important. As long as he can continue to progress like he has with a low pain sensitivity to it, he should be in a good spot,” Boone said.

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani gestures in the dugout during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees Monday, July 17, 2023, in Anaheim, Calif.