The Yankees’ 10 Greatest Hitters

Number 1Babe Ruth (1920-34)

Legendary on an almost mythical level, Ruth is undoubtedly the most iconic baseball player in the game’s rich and long history. It can be argued that there have been better ballplayers over time, but there is zilch debate that nobody changed and commanded the game with as must dominance and gusto.

Ruth is so revered, he may be the only athlete to have an adjective named after him—the word “Ruthian,” meaning “with great power.” Armed with a combination of immense strength and talent, Ruth almost single-handedly transformed the New York Yankees from an obscure American League entity into a genuine, lasting superpower.

Over his first five years with the Boston Red Sox, Ruth had established himself as one of best pitchers in the game, twice winning 20 games in a season, leading the AL in earned run average in 1916 (at age 21) and setting a World Series record that would stand for generations when he pitched 29.1 straight scoreless innings. But gradually people begin to notice how truly special Ruth was at the plate; the Red Sox slowly transformed him from ace pitcher to everyday slugger, as he set the major league mark for home runs with 29 in 1919, his last season in Boston. Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, hurting for cash and more interested in Broadway than baseball, sent Ruth to the Yankees in a blockbuster deal in which he received no players but $125,000 in cash and an additional $350,000 loan with Fenway Park as collateral—astounding figures for its time. Frazee laughed that he got the better of the deal, saying Ruth wasn’t a team player and that the Yankees were “taking a gamble” on him.

No one expected what came next. In his first year in pinstripes, Ruth nearly doubled his home run mark of the previous year by slamming 54 and set post-1900 records with 137 runs knocked in, 158 scored and 150 walks—all of which would be reset by Ruth throughout the 1920s. Ruth not only outhomered all players, but whole teams, leading George Will to later remark that he was “Mount Everest in Kansas.” The fans loved the act; in his first year with the Yankees, a record 1.3 million fans came to see him in New York.

Ruth would quickly prove that his breakout 1920 stampede of stats was no fluke. He would hit over 40 or more homers 10 more times, including three years over 50 and a personal-best 60 in 1927—the all-time record until 1961. He led the AL 12 times in homers, six times in RBIs, eight times in runs scored, 11 times in walks and earned a batting crown in 1924 with a .378 average—a year after setting his career high water mark at .393. He struck out often, but as many witnesses insisted, watching him whiff was as exhilarating as watching him connect on a tape-measure blast, for which he hit many—including, it was claimed, a 602-foot launch in Detroit in 1926.

Throughout his prime with the Yankees, Ruth was more than just a baseball superstar; he was baseball. On the field and off it, he was a lightning rod of attention, and he loved every moment of the spotlight—showing off a genuine charisma with the general public, especially with kids who worshipped him. But when the children went to bed, the nighttime Ruth went into action and lived life to the fullest, sating on food, drink and women. Critics couldn’t believe Ruth could sustain his performance on the field over the long haul with such nonstop antics, but he would prove them all wrong—playing at full throttle all the way to age 40. Only once—in 1925, when Ruth’s historic “bellyache” sidelined him for the season’s first two months—did the good life seem to get the best of him.

During his 15 years in New York, Ruth helped win seven pennants and four World Series titles for the Yankees. When the moment called for Ruth to rise to the occasion, the Sultan of Swat had a magical arrogance and uncanny ability to do just that. He hit the first home run in Yankee Stadium history, the first home run in All-Star Game history, twice homered three times in the World Series, and hit .347 with 15 homers in 36 postseason games for the Yankees—his last blast being one of his most famous, the “Called Shot” against the Chicago Cubs in the 1932 Fall Classic, in which Ruth allegedly pointed to the center-field bleachers before slamming Charlie Root’s next pitch to that exact location.

Ruth’s biggest disappointment in baseball was his failure to manage a big-league team, all despite the promises and teases from numerous teams—including his last stop as a player with the 1935 Boston Braves, quitting a third of the way through the season when his body finally said no while realizing the Braves would say the same to what he expected to be a future post piloting the club.

For nearly 40 years, Ruth’s 714 career home runs would remain the major league standard; Hank Aaron would break the cherished mark in 1974, but he would do so playing roughly 500 more games to get there. Today, Ruth remains seventh among modern players in career batting average (.342), tied for fourth (with Aaron) in runs scored, third in RBIs, first in slugging percentage and second in on-base percentage.

Ruth developed throat cancer shortly after turning 50 and died in 1948; his funeral, which included a procession through downtown New York and a public view of his casket at Yankee Stadium for mourners to walk by, attracted massive crowds usually reserved for world leaders.

Number 2Mickey Mantle (1951-68)

The thundering switch-hitter from Oklahoma was the fourth—and last—in an iconic line of Yankee superstars that began with Ruth and spanned nearly a half-century. Mantle’s bid to become the greatest of the Yankee greats fell short due to numerous injuries, to say nothing of his weakness for hard liquor.

After hitting .400 in the 1951 exhibition season, the Yankees gave the 19-year-old Mantle an everyday spot in the lineup, but as a decent start soured downward into the summer, he was demoted to the minors; thoroughly dejected, Mantle wanted to quit but was prodded back with tough love from his authoritative father. His return to the Yankees late in the season showed more maturity, but he set the tone for countless future injuries that would cost him the equivalent of nearly three whole seasons throughout his career when he tore a knee ligament running upon a drain cover during the World Series.

Over the next few years, Mantle emerged and, when healthy, developed into the AL’s premier hitter of the 1950s. He was blessed with tremendous power and darting speed, though he rarely took advantage of the latter asset as the Yankees traditional eschewed stolen bases for the home run. He showed off plenty of the latter; known for his titanic shots, Mantle famously made Washington’s expansive Griffith Stadium look bandboxed in a 1953 game, launching a tape-measure shot officially listed at 565 feet. Officials could only guestimate on several monster drives Mantle delivered over the years at Yankee Stadium; one such drive in 1956 was said to still be rising as it hit off the third deck overhang beyond right field.

Mantle was a three-time MVP—finishing runner-up on three other occasions—was a four-time leader in home runs and a member of 16 All-Star teams. His greatest year came in 1956 when he won the triple crown—becoming the first switch-hitter in modern times to win a batting title with a .353 average, while also leading the AL with 52 home runs and 130 RBIs. Five years later, Mantle would hit a personal-best 54 homers when he and teammate Roger Maris raced on a historic quest to top Babe Ruth’s season home run record. Though he hit only .257 in the postseason, Mantle still holds career World Series records with 18 home runs, 40 RBIs, 42 runs and 43 walks.

As the Yankees faded in the late 1960s, so did Mantle—as mounting aches and pains combined with a lifetime of imbibement turned him into a decaying, less efficient presence at the plate. He paid the price for his alcoholic past when, in 1995, he succumbed to liver disease at age 63.

Number 3Lou Gehrig (1923-39)

Ruth’s sidekick in sluggery was sometimes his equal, wielding an equally potent bat while standing complacently quiet in the shadows of the spotlight Ruth so happily hogged. His legend is matched in the public eye by the horrible fate that cruelly awaited him as he rolled up a seemingly invincible streak of durability.

The broad-shouldered Gehrig showed off his strength at age 17 when he hit a ball completely out of Chicago’s Wrigley Field during a high school game. The New York Giants took notice and nearly grabbed him in as one of their own, but irascible manager John McGraw hated his defensive abilities. After two years at Columbia University, the Yankees came across Gehrig—with a scout raving that he had discovered another Ruth.

Gehrig spent the bulk of his first two years in the minors, impressing with late-season call-ups in which he hit .447 over 38 at-bats; he stuck with the parent roster in 1925 and won the first base job for good when incumbent Wally Pipp famously came down with a headache and begged for a day off. (Pipp later denied the story, insisting he was one of many odd men out in a midseason shake-up amid a disappointing 1925 season in New York.) Having pinch-hit the day before, Gehrig began a legendary streak in which he would appear in every game through 1939.

There was good reason for Gehrig to be in the lineup every day. Starting in 1926, Gehrig began a 13-year rampage with the bat that was almost unparalleled. During this span, he hit .343 and averaged 36 home runs, 147 RBIs, 139 runs, 112 walks, 39 doubles and 12 triples per year. He set an AL record in 1931 with 184 RBIs, hit a major league record 23 grand slams (since broken), became the first major leaguer in modern times to clock four homers in a game (in 1932), twice hit for the cycle and collected 400 total bases five times, another all-time mark.

Gehrig hit behind Ruth and the two formed, somewhat arguably, the greatest 1-2 punch the game has ever seen. With the legendary 1927 Yankees team, both sluggers combined to smack 107 home runs—a quarter of the league’s total output; they set a record four years later when they grouped to knock in 347 runs. Gehrig stayed strong with Ruth and without him; in his second year after Ruth’s departure, the Iron Horse paired up with another, newly-arrived pinstriped icon—Joe DiMaggio—and won the triple crown with a .363 average, a career-high 49 homers and 165 RBIs.

Like Ruth, Gehrig was a terror against World Series opponents, hitting .361 in 34 games with 10 homers and 35 RBIs. He especially lit up St. Louis in the Yankees’ four-game sweep of the Cardinals in 1928, belting four homers with nine RBIs in 11 at-bats.

Gehrig declined by his standards in 1938 at age 35 and was punchless in the World Series against the Cubs; it may have been the first sign of tragic events to come. The following spring, Gehrig was noticeably weak and ineffective; simple habits such as tying a shoe became a burden. After hitting .143 in his first eight games, he was sent to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where it was discovered he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a debilitating disease that cripples muscle movements. Gehrig had no choice but to retire from the game, ending his run of consecutive games played at 2,130.

In a special day given for him at Yankee Stadium on the Fourth of July, a tearful and emotionally overwhelmed Gehrig stepped to a microphone in front of 62,000 and memorably spoke that he considered himself “the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.” That day, the Yankees retired Gehrig’s #4 uniform—a major league first—and the fledgling National Baseball Hall of Fame waived its mandatory five-year waiting period and voted Gehrig into Cooperstown, ensuring he would see his day of enshrinement. Less than two years later, Gehrig would succumb to the disease that would eventually bear his name.

Number 4Joe DiMaggio (1936-42, 1946-51)

It seemed an impossible task to fill the superstar void left behind by Babe Ruth in the mid-1930s, but DiMaggio provided proof of that accomplishment in his own commanding yet almost taciturn manner.

The second youngest of three brothers, Dom and Vinny (both of whom would also make the major league grade to varying degrees of success), DiMaggio made noise across the country at age 18 in 1933 when he fashioned a 61-game hitting streak for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League. The bidding war for DiMaggio’s major league services quickly ensued, and then all but vanished when he suffered a serious injury in 1934; the Yankees secured him for a relative bargain of $25,000, allowing him one more year in San Francisco to warm up for the majors; he proved he was beyond ready by hitting .398 for the Seals in 172 games.

Tall and gracefully lanky, DiMaggio arrived with the Yankees in 1936 wielding a majestic swing and formed, with Lou Gehrig, a formidable power-hitting duo arguably on a par with the Ruth-Gehrig tandem of the previous decade. Joltin’ Joe batted .323 with 29 homers and 125 RBIs as a rookie—then turned it up several notches with a monstrous sophomore effort in 1937 that included a major league-leading 46 home runs to go with 167 RBIs (both career highs); DiMaggio later believed he might have clocked 70 over the fence had it not been for Yankee Stadium’s voluminous left-center field dimensions, often referred to as Death Valley. His 418 total bases were the most seen in the majors until Jim Rice, four decades later.

After winning back-to-back batting titles in 1939-40—hitting over .400 as late as mid-September before edging down to a personal-best .381 mark in 1939—DiMaggio became encrypted in eternal baseball folklore when he hit safely in 56 straight games during the 1941 season, capturing a nation’s attention even as world war crept inevitably closer. The global conflict would sidetrack DiMaggio’s baseball career as he was drafted into military service and missed three years of his prime (1943-45) in the majors; his pre-war invincibility wore off upon his return but he justifiably retained star status with more chronic greatness, including a 1948 campaign in which he led the AL with 39 homers and 155 RBIs. After a particularly lackluster 1951 season in which he constantly played in pain and hit just .263 with 12 homers, DiMaggio announced his retirement at age 36. He finished his career with a .325 average and almost as many home runs (361) as strikeouts (369).

A 13-time All-Star, DiMaggio won three AL MVP awards—thanks in part to Boston sportswriters who refused to give even a single vote to surly Red Sox star Ted Williams, who always had the better numbers. (Ironically, DiMaggio was nearly traded for Williams in 1947, but the deal collapsed when the Red Sox also wanted young catching prospect Yogi Berra.)

Very private and fiercely protective of his image—almost to a fault—DiMaggio nevertheless remained in the spotlight in retirement, most notably in 1954 when he wedded Marilyn Monroe in a marriage that lasted only nine months. When Simon & Garfunkel included the seemingly non sequitur passage, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you” in their hit 1967 song Mrs. Robinson, it scored as a representative plea from counter-culturally confused baseball fans of the 1960s longing for the more innocent times of years gone by when players like DiMaggio ruled as icons to be admired.

Number 5Charlie Keller (1939-43, 1945-49, 1952)

Nicknamed “King Kong” because of his burly, muscular physique—though his 5’10” height compared him better with Fay Wray—Keller was the best of the “supporting” stars during the Yankees’ early glory years, showing off a statistical personality that emulated the team’s big-name stars of the time with plenty of power (including a mass of doubles and triples), strong patience at the plate (Keller twice led the AL in walks) and a knack to knock in and score 100 runs on a seasonal basis.

Keller made for an immediate impact with his 1939 entry upon the big-league scene, hitting .334 with 11 homers and 83 RBIs, 87 runs and 81 walks in just 111 games; he ramped it up even more in the World Series against the Reds, collecting seven hits—including three homers—in 16 at-bats, memorably (and literally) applying the knockout blow when he bowled over Cincinnati All-Star catcher Ernie Lombardi at the plate on the series-deciding play in extra innings.

In 1941, Keller set career highs with 33 home runs and 122 RBIs, and soon took over the Yankee marquee when DiMaggio was drafted away to the military in 1943. Keller himself spent a year and a half away from the Yankees towards the end of World War II, returning with another superlative effort in 1946 when he racked up 30 homers, 101 RBIs, 98 runs and 113 walks for New York. But his career was effectively cut short a year later when, at age 30, he began experiencing major back problems that kept him from playing every day through the final six years of his career.

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Number 6

Alex Rodriguez (2004-16)

The top talent of his generation, Rodriguez fell into the Yankees’ lap during his prime in 2004 after a deal between the mid-market Texas Rangers—desperate to shed him and his annual $25 million salary—and the Boston Red Sox fell through because the players’ union wouldn’t allow Rodriguez’s nod to have his wages reduced. New York jumped in and gave the Rangers second baseman Alfonso Soriano (clearing the way for future Yankees star Robinson Cano) and would agree to continue paying two-thirds of his existing contract with the Rangers, picking up the rest of the tab until Rodriguez opted out in 2007 and signed a new 10-year, $275 million deal—at the time, easily the richest in baseball history.

In pinstripes, Rodriguez continued to show that he was worth every penny of his fat contract. Through his first four years with the Yankees, he won two of his three career MVP awards, including a spectacular performance in 2007 when he racked up 54 homers and career-high numbers in 156 RBIs and 143 runs scored. A-Rod also maintained a record streak of collecting at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs that ultimately lasted 13 straight years.

Like DiMaggio, Rodriguez kept a personal distance from media and fans with a smooth, image-conscious façade; the likely reason for the apprehension behind the smile was exposed before spring training 2009 when a Sports Illustrated story outed Rodriguez as a steroid user in the early 2000s. After intense media scrutiny, Rodriguez—sarcastically labeled “A-Roid” in the New York tabloids—admitted that the story was true. His confession, combined with his crucial aid in helping the Yankees to their first world title in nine years, led to temporary redemption—yet inexplicably, he went back on the juice the very next season when he hooked up with the Florida “anti-aging” clinic Biogenesis, which was unmasked in early 2013 as a steroid supplier to numerous major leaguers. An understandably furious MLB threw the book at Rodriguez, leveling a 211-game suspension; an arbitrator reduced it to 162 games, banning Rodriguez for the entire 2014 season. Flanked by a contentious, all-star legal team, Rodriguez sued both MLB and his own players’ union in an effort to have the suspension overturned before relenting; his lawyers soon sued him, claiming he hadn’t paid them. (They settled out of court.)

Rodriguez’s return from baseball’s gulag in 2015 was an impressive one in which he belted 33 homers, his highest total since 2008, all while turning 40 years of age and playing clean—so far as we know. But a year later, his game quickly deteriorated—and the Yankees, having sought a way to jettison both he and his contract post-Biogenesis, negotiated for his early, permanent departure from the team late in the year. No other ballclub took him on, and Rodriguez’s forced exit left him four home runs shy of 700 for his career.

Any attempted rehabilitation of Rodriguez’s purity will be an immense challenge, as he has been rightfully cast as a pariah who repeatedly broke the trust of the game and its fans. He essentially has no chance of being enshrined in Cooperstown.

Number 7Yogi Berra (1946-63)

“I really didn’t say everything I said.”

Yogi Berra could have been famous even if his talent lagged (like Bob Uecker) because of his well-known penchant for spouting Yogi-isms, quotes of irony that made sense even if, technically, they didn’t. Among his more famous phrases are “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded,” “90% of the game is half mental” and, our favorite, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

While Berra provided more than his share of quirky quotations and character to the Yankees, he also gave the ballclub a Hall-of-Fame career as a power-hitting catcher that elicited three AL MVP awards (within a five-year period), 15 All-Star Game appearances, 10 World Series rings and 358 career home runs—just three behind DiMaggio and fifth on the Yankees’ all-time list.

For 10 straight years (1949-58), Berra hit at least 20 home runs; but he was hardly a free swinger, most blatantly illustrated in 1951 when he amassed a career-high 597 at-bats—and a career-low 12 strikeouts. Behind the plate, Berra was equally sharp and excellent at defending against the stolen base, nailing nearly half of all attempted basestealers on his watch.

No player has appeared in more World Series games than Berra, who logged 75 appearances over 14 Fall Classics—hitting .274 with 12 homers and 39 RBIs. He was at his best in 1956, when he batted .360 with three homers and 10 RBIs while catching Don Larsen’s perfect game during the Yankees’ seven-game conquest of Brooklyn.

In 1964, Berra was “promoted” to Yankees manager, but found it hard to instill discipline on players that had been his teammates for so long—as memorably recalled when he confronted infielder Phil Linz on the team bus for playing a harmonica as the rest of the players all but laughed over him. Though his Yankees won 99 games and the AL pennant, they lost a seven-game World Series to St. Louis—and in the arrogant Yankeeland of the early 1960s, that wasn’t good enough. Berra was fired, and he jumped ship to the local rival Mets, eventually piloting the 1973 “Ya Gotta Believe” team to an improbable World Series appearance (losing again in seven games, to Oakland). He happily reunited with the Yankees in 1976, even if it meant tolerating turbulent new owner George Steinbrenner—especially during a year-plus stint as manager in the mid-1980s.

Number 8Rickey Henderson (1985-89)

After spending his first six years with the A’s, the eventual all-time speed king came to New York and starred for the Yankees at a time when the team maintained an exciting, front-loaded offense—but because Steinbrenner had gutted his farm system for pricey, often over-the-hill veterans, never could find its way to the postseason.

Contentedly reteamed with Billy Martin—his first manager in Oakland—a happy Henderson predictably led to big-time numbers; in his first year with the Yankees, he hit .314, stole 80 bags and scored 146 runs in 143 games—the most runs tallied by a player since 1949, and the first time a major leaguer had averaged over a run per game since 1939. The Yankees were also pleasantly surprised to find Henderson wielding unexpected power, as he clubbed 24 homers in his New York debut—followed the next season by a career-high 28, while again pacing the AL with 87 steals and 130 runs. Hamstring injuries reduced his time in 1987 to just 95 games, and the notoriously rough New York press began wondering aloud if he was beginning to dog it. Two years later, feuding with new manager Dallas Green, Henderson very well might have quit on a Yankees team that was beginning to decay; he happily accepted a trade back to the A’s, reborn as a powerhouse under Tony La Russa. He would finish the season winning his first of two World Series rings over his 25-year career.

Although his time in New York was brief, Henderson definitely left his mark in the team record book; in just four-plus years, he easily became the Yankees’ all-time stolen base leader with 326—a mark that would be eventually bettered by Derek Jeter.

Number 9Don Mattingly (1982-95)

The lone hero in Steinbrenner’s “lost years” in between the Yankee dynasties of the late 1970s and 1990s, Mattingly was the most popular player to don pinstripes since Mantle, but had the misfortune of debuting for the Yankees a year after their 1981 World Series appearance—and retiring a year before their next, in 1996.

One of the few homegrown gems in the Yankees farm system not dealt away by Steinbrenner, Mattingly came blazing into his own in 1984, his first full season, with 23 home runs, 110 RBIs and the AL batting title with a .343 mark—overcoming teammate Dave Winfield by three batting points on the final day of the season to the loud cheers of the hometown fans, who were heavily rooting for Mattingly over the expensive, occasionally disappointing Winfield. The next three seasons saw equally impressive results from Mattingly; he hit .324 with career highs in 35 homers and 145 RBIs in 1985—winning the AL MVP in the process—and a year later set more personal highs with a .352 average, 238 hits and 53 doubles. In 1987, he clubbed 30 homers—10 of them in a record-tying eight-game stretch—and set an all-time season mark with six grand slams. All along, Mattingly displayed deft defense at first base, ultimately winning nine Gold Gloves over his 14-year career.

Mattingly’s early, seemingly easy path to the Hall of Fame took a rough detour in the second half of his career. Continuous back problems were largely to blame; it became a matter of whether he’d hit .300 as opposed to his early years, when it was a mere matter of not if but how much over the mark he’d finish. Worse, his power vacated him; he went from a 25-to-35-home run guy to one lucky to reach double figures.

No one at New York felt the itch to get to the postseason more than Mattingly, who had been frustratingly denied throughout his career. The 1994 Yankees looked certain to make it through to October, but the players’ strike shut down the season entirely in August. A year later, Mattingly finally saw his first playoff action as the Yankees took the AL wild card spot and fought tough against a rampaging Seattle squad, as teammates and fans alike put out the cry to win it all for Donnie Ballgame, sensing that retirement was around the corner. Alas for Mattingly—who hit .417 with four doubles and a homer in the ALDS against the Mariners—the Yankees lost the series in an exciting five games. Following the season, Mattingly officially decided to take the 1996 season off with the option of returning a year later, but he never made good on it, stepping down with a lifetime .307 average, 2,153 hits and 222 home runs.

Number 10Aaron Judge (2016-present)

Literally a handful of major leaguers have ever beheld a similar, monstrous presence as the 6’7”, 280-pound Judge—but none of them ever showed more athletic grace with more punishing numbers.

A native of California’s Central Valley, Judge was selected by the Yankees in the first round of the 2013 draft, putting up pleasing but hardly jaw-dropping power numbers as he worked his way up the minor-league chain. Called up late in 2016 by the Yankees, Judge belted a home run in his first at-bat but otherwise looked like the second coming of Kyle Blanks or Walter Young, king-sized hopefuls whose massive frames failed to translate into profitable MLB tenures.

But in 2017, Judge exceeded all anticipation with a mind-blowing rookie campaign. He broke Joe DiMaggio’s franchise rookie home run mark on July 7, won the Home Run Derby with four smashes over 500 feet (no other competitor hit even one), erased Mark McGwire’s MLB rookie homer mark with 52, and became the second major league debutante (after Ted Williams in 1939) to accrue 100 RBIs, 100 runs and 100 walks in the same season. Judge was a slam-dunk choice for AL Rookie of the Year, and narrowly lost the MVP race to Houston’s Jose Altuve, who partially cheated his way to the award. Wielding a relaxed charm to go with his mammoth frame, Judge became so popular among Yankee that he collected 10 write-in votes for the 2017 mayoral race in New York City.

Over the next four seasons, Judge found that maintaining his rookie excellence would be a challenge. A host of injuries which caused him to miss nearly a third of the schedule on average muted his output, but he continued to impress when healthy. It wasn’t just the home runs, nor the sheer power of his stroke—leading MLB in average exit velocity every full season from 2017-22; he was a gifted defender in the outfield, and ran the bases well for a man of his size. Judge also wasn’t afraid to go for broke, striking out in bunches; he whiffed 208 times in his rookie campaign, and once went 37 straight games with at least one—tying the MLB record held by pitcher Bill Stoneman.

In his last year before free agency in 2022, Judge refused an extension from the Yankees and bet on himself to have a big year. To say he collected was the understatement of a year in which he batted .311, smashed an AL-record 62 homers (eclipsing Roger Maris’ famed 61 from 1961), and produced 11 multi-homer games to easily set a Yankee record—itself an enormous achievement given the Ruths, Gehrigs, Mantles and Rodriguezes that have graced Yankee history. For all of this, he easily claimed the AL MVP and earned a nine-year, $360 million deal to stay in the Bronx.

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