At the time of writing this Aaron Judge hit two home runs and has a total of 59 home runs on the season. Judge is just two home runs shy of tying Roger Maris's single season record of 61 home runs. He has 16 games to catch and pass Maris as the legitimate single season home run record king.
He is unlikely to be able to surpass Barry Bonds' single season record of 73. The records set by not only Barry Bonds but also Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa will in the minds of most baseball fans have an asterisk next to it. The top six single season home run records are held by these three baseball players. All six records were achieved between the years 1998 and 2001. Those three players were all steroid users and thus creates the controversy.
Barry Bonds has the all time home run record. He is not in the hall of fame. He isn't because of irrefutable evidence of his steroid use. So the steroid use is enough to keep him out of the hall of fame but not enough to remove the title of single season homerun record. Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa also became synonymous with the use of steroids. Something that is illegal every major sport and considered cheating. The MLB's drug testing program started in 2003 and became increasingly strict. This could very easily be why we haven't seen any player hit the 60 home run mark in over two decades. Some will make claims that almost every player is taking performance enhancing drugs, only some get caught, some players just take what coaches tell them to and don't even realize they could be taking a banned substance etc. So there becomes a dispute of what is the "real" single season home run record? Is it the Barry Bonds 73 home runs in 2001 or is it Roger Maris' 61?
Personally, I'm of the belief that there is all too much cheating and performance enhancing drug use in professional sports. The Olympics test vigorously for such substances and would disqualify and remove medals from such players. American sports leagues seem to be far more tolerant. Many times it seems like a small slap on the wrist. Major League Baseball has been a bit stricter in years past but you still have a doping era were a few guys were cranking out home runs they would not have otherwise been able, home runs that wouldn't have been made if they hadn't been cheating. Giving Aaron Judge the benefit of the doubt that he doesn't use performance enhancing drugs as he has never tested positive for them, and assuming he can hit a few more homers does he become the new true single season home run king? I say yes! The steroid era seems to eclipse the accomplishments of today's athletes. I remember the excitement when Sosa and McGuire were close in home run totals and seemingly going head to head for the record in the late 90's. But such an accomplishment right now with Aaron Judge or even in 2017 when Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 home runs all seem to fly under the radar. It's truly a shame that the dishonest play of a few decades ago voids the accomplishments of honest players today. In fairness, you never know who is using steroids, as all too often it comes out later that a player was caught and you're left to wonder how many players don't get caught? But I personally expect Aaron Judge to hit at least 62 and claim the title as the real single season home run king. A crown he deserves to wear if he can pull off the feat in the coming weeks.