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Braves clinch NL East, completing comeback from 10.5-game deficit

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For the fifth consecutive season, the Atlanta Braves are NL East champions. The defending World Series champs clinched the division title with Tuesday night’s win over the Miami Marlins (ATL 2, MIA 1). 

Credit for this one goes to the pitching. Starter Jake Odorizzi allowed just one run (a solo homer) in five innings before Collin McHugh, Raisel Iglesias, A.J. Minter and Kenley Jansen brought it home, though Minter got himself into trouble in the eighth. In the case of the relievers, it was a familiar formula and something we can look forward to seeing this next month in any games the Braves lead in the playoffs. 

A William Contreras RBI infield single broke the tie in the fifth and that bullpen just did their thing. 

Atlanta swept the rival Mets this past weekend to move into first place and take control of the division after spending much of the season running them down. 

The Braves have spent only four days alone in first place this season and, on June 1, they were 10 1/2 games behind the Mets. The 10 1/2-game lead is tied for the third largest blown division lead in baseball history:

  1. 1951 Dodgers: 13 games (Giants won NL)
  2. 1995 Angels: 11 games (Mariners won AL West)
  3. 1979 Astros: 10 1/2 games (Reds won NL West)
  4. 2022 Mets: 10 1/2 games (Braves won NL East)

Truth be told, the Braves won the NL East more than the Mets lost it. The Mets are 64-44 since building that 10 1/2-game lead on June 1, a 96-win pace and the sixth-best record in baseball during that time. The Braves, meanwhile, are 77-33 since June 1. Only the juggernaut Dodgers (77-33) can match them during that time. The Mets were good, the Braves were better.

As an added bonus, the NL East title comes with a Wild Card Series bye, so the Braves will have five days to rest between the end of the regular season and the start of the NLDS on Oct. 11. Atlanta could see the Mets again in the NLDS — they’ll play the winner of the Mets vs. Padres or Phillies Wild Card Series.

The Braves won the NL East despite losing Freddie Freeman to free agency, though it would be more accurate to say the Braves let Freeman move on because they traded for Matt Olson to replace Freeman before Freeman signed with the Dodgers. Freeman has thoroughly outproduced Olson this year, but Olson has been an above-average first baseman and an adequate replacement.

Rookies Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider have further reinforced a championship core that includes Ronald Acuña Jr., Max Fried, Charlie Morton, Austin Riley, Dansby Swanson, and others. The trade deadline addition of Raisel Iglesias has given the bullpen an enormous lift, as has the emergence of lefty Dylan Lee. Kyle Wright broke out as a top tier starter as well.

It remains to be seen whether second baseman Ozzie Albies will be able to return at some point in the postseason. He missed most of the season with a broken foot, then broke a finger one day after coming off the injured list. He did not need surgery but is expected to miss several weeks. Orlando Arcia and rookie Vaughn Grissom have handled second base duty in the interim.

The Braves will look to become MLB‘s first repeat champion since the Yankees won three straight World Series from 1998-2000. Securing the division title and a Wild Card Series bye makes the path to another World Series win that much easier.



Fantasy basketball — Strategies to help you win your salary cap draft

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In a snake draft if you don’t have the No. 1 pick, you’ll have a hard time getting Nikola Jokic. However, in a salary cap draft you can absolutely land the Joker, you just need to pony up.

The reigning two-time MVP has been going for an average of $70 of the standard $200 budget used in ESPN salary cap drafts. You can even pair him with his rival Joel Embiid for a cool $130 and create an incredibly talented, if awkward, MVP competition on your own fantasy roster. This strategy leaves you little left to build out the rest of your team, but speaks to the freedom managers have in this format.

With this freedom comes the responsibility to refine and define your strategy and player valuations. You determine which players best fit your philosophy, rather than the draft spot you have. Longtime ESPN fantasy hoops analyst Jon Cregan even wrote an evergreen opus covering all things salary cap. If you want to dive into the details of budgeting strategies and team-building philosophies germane to salary drafts, start with that piece.

Some might call paying up for Embiid and Jokic the beginning of a “stars and scrubs” approach, one that surrounds a handful of pricey superstars with a series of sleepers and fringe fantasy options. The extreme version suggests, in snake draft terms, you pay for two or three first rounders and then 10 late-round players.

This isn’t an ideal approach, mostly because there are so many high-level NBA stars and thus scarcity isn’t in your favor when pursuing a top-heavy build. Such an approach is more palatable in fantasy football, where there is more scarcity of reliable elite skill players.

In basketball, you can argue there are nearly 20 players “worthy” of first-round consideration in statistical terms. You should still pursue multiple stars atop your hoops roster, but it shouldn’t take up such a disproportionate part of your budget.

While snake drafts can certainly offer surprises and create real pivot points you might not have expected, the volatility of the unique market that develops in each salary cap draft is more pronounced. Being informed allows you to be adaptive in the draft, so you can recognize where to spend and where to stay patient.

Is the room not valuing players on tanking teams? You can be that team. Are your buddies letting older stars like LeBron James, James Harden, and Kevin Durant go well below reasonable value? You can and must adapt based on how the other members of your draft behave.

What makes fantasy basketball so rewarding is how managers recognize and value versatility. Save for points formats, most leagues are driven by categories. You need your superstar wings to produce, but you also need rim-protection specialists to supplement the build.

You know who the high-dollar superstars are but can you get the best price? It’s good to have some price points that you really stick to. There’s not a ton of strategy when it comes to pairing Durant and Dejounte Murray to open your draft if the driving force was purely value.

If you believe Durant is still a bankable $55 player (worth more than that last season) and you can land him at $46, that’s highly advisable. If the room was too scared to pay market value for Murray amid the mystery of his fit with Trae Young, that can prove profitable. Some drafts might unfold and see each player go well above expectations or projections. Variance from draft to draft is a feature of the format.

My favorite approach in recent years has been to identify a collection of sleepers and specialists at each position who can serve to complement whatever collection of higher-dollar stars I’ve already built. Which is to say, I’m more likely to consistently target and land these players given their markets aren’t as fluid as those of star players. I might not intend to draft Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis, but I am fine doing so if the prices are true values. I do intend, however, to draft Desmond Bane in almost all salary cap leagues this season.

Bane leaps off the page as a major value in salary cap drafts because he going to see a career high in minutes, he’s entering his prime in his third season, and the Grizzlies’ dont have much depth behind him. If Bane cruises past 30 minutes per night, he is on the path to posting prime Klay Thompson lines, with an average price point of just $8 in ESPN drafts.

In addition to Bane, I also like Herbert Jones for his incredible steal and block rates and scoring forces Jamal Murray and Collin Sexton. These are players that are going below $10 that could triple their current value this season. Guys like Devin Vassell, Gordon Hayward, Monte Morris, and P.J. Washington won’t cost much more than a dollar in most drafts, but will be on almost all of my rosters. Having a list of players you want will often result in you landing a lot of those players.

Being nimble during those early big-name nominations is pivotal. Value will absolutely develop; it just might not be in those first few names. Then you can pursue your own list of sleepers and values at each position. It sounds like something on a terrible motivational poster, but the balance between patience and preparation is what we aim to strike in salary cap drafts.

From Ruben Rivera to Aaron Judge: How the Yankees turned a top prospect into a 62-HR hitter 30 years later

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There is a new home run king in the American League. In Game 161 of the 2022 MLB season, New York Yankees franchise star Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the year, breaking a tie with Roger Maris. Maris previously held the AL’s single-season home run record with 61 homers in 1961.

Judge, now 30, will become a free agent after this season — good timing on this 62 homers, eh? — and he has been among the game’s best players since his rookie season in 2017. He smashed a then-rookie record 52 home runs that year and was named the unanimous Rookie of the Year. Judge was also the MVP runner-up that year and finished fourth in the MVP voting in 2021.

Judge is a true player development success story. He overcame extreme swing-and-miss issues in college and in the minors to become a very productive big leaguer. Yankees coaches worked with him and Judge deserves credit for tinkering and making constant adjustments. It’s not easy. His work ethic and baseball acumen helped him get to where he is now.

Getting Judge into pinstripes was a long process that dates back much further than his college or minor-league career. The string of transactions that led to the Yankees acquiring Judge is 17 months older than Judge himself. It can be traced back to 1990 and includes seven trades, one international signing, one draft pick, 21 different players, and a whole lot of patience.

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of the transactions tree that resulted in Judge playing for the Yankees.

Nov. 21, 1990: Yankees sign Ruben Rivera

The Yankees signed two Riveras — cousins — as international amateur free agents out of Panama in 1990. One came with little hype and fanfare and eventually became the greatest closer in history and the first unanimous Hall of Famer. The other was billed as the next great Yankee from the moment he signed. Ruben had far more buzz than Mariano.

In fact, Baseball America magazine put Ruben on the cover of their Dec. 1994 issue with the caption, “The next Mickey Mantle?”

Rivera was one of the most hyped prospects in baseball history.
Baseball America

Baseball America ranked Rivera — Ruben, not Mariano — as one of the nine best prospects in baseball every year from 1995-97. He made his brief MLB debut as a Sept. call-up in 1995 and got his first extended taste of the big leagues in 1996, when he hit .284/.381/.443 in 46 games but only 106 plate appearances. He was a part-time player on a championship team.

Behind the scenes, the Yankees were growing impatient with Rivera, who was immensely talented but also immature. He authored a very underwhelming .235/.324/.395 batting line in 101 Triple-A games in 1996 and there were concerns about his work ethic. Rivera had the tools to be great, but did he have the drive to be great? The Yankees determined the answer was no.

“I really had great hopes for him. He could run, he could throw, he could hit for distance,” Herb Raybourn, who signed Rivera when he served as New York’s director of Latin American operations, told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post in 2015. “He had all the tools. But he also liked to fool around. You have to be serious.”

April 22, 1997: Yankees trade Rivera for Hideki Irabu

Hideo Nomo took MLB by storm in the mid-1990s and paved the way for other Japanese stars to migrate to the show. Irabu, known as “The Japanese Nolan Ryan,” was more hyped than Nomo. The Padres purchased Irabu’s contract from the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan in Jan. 1997, a move that led to the creation of the posting system. Japanese teams wanted compensation for their stars.

There was one small problem with San Diego purchasing Irabu’s contract: he didn’t want to play for them. “I have absolutely no desire to conclude a contract with San Diego. My first pick is the Yankees. All I can say for now is that I have told this to my agent and that there has been no change in my wishes,” he told the Associated Press at the time.

Padres president Larry Lucchino was confident Irabu would come around — “We think that when we have a chance to speak with him, we’ll be able to adjust his perspective,” he told the Associated Press — but it never happened. Irabu held his ground and forced a trade. To the Yankees he went in a six-player trade headlined by Rivera. One month later Irabu signed a four-year, $12.8 million contract. Here are the full trade details:

  • Yankees receive: Hideki Irabu, Homer Bush, minor leaguers Gordie Amerson and Vernon Maxwell
  • Padres receive: Ruben Rivera, minor leaguer Rafael Medina, and $3 million in cash

Following a brief minor-league tune-up, Irabu joined the Yankees in July 1997 and was very good his first time out, holding the Tigers to two runs in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out nine.

The wheels fell off after that. Irabu allowed 42 runs in his next 37 1/3 innings and was demoted to the bullpen in September. He finished his rookie MLB season — his age-28 season — with a 7.09 ERA in 53 1/3 innings spread across nine starts and four relief appearances. He did not pitch in the postseason that year.

Irabu had his best season as a big leaguer in 1998. He was in New York’s rotation all year and had a 4.06 ERA in 173 innings. That was roughly nine percent better than league average once adjusted for ballpark. Irabu was the club’s No. 5 starter behind David Cone, Orlando Hernandez, Andy Pettitte, and David Wells that year and he did not pitch in the postseason.

Although he was productive in 1998, Irabu was not living up to the hype or his contract, and tensions boiled over early in 1999. He failed to cover first base in back-to-back spring training starts, leading to the late George Steinbrenner calling him a “fat toad.” 

“He looks like a fat, pus-sy [rhymes with fussy] toad out there,” The Boss told the New York Post‘s George King. “That’s not a Yankee. Come on, guys, we are going to meet again (to tell him what we expect).”

Irabu started the 1999 season in the bullpen before shifting back into the rotation in May. He struck out 12 in a complete game win over the Red Sox on July 30, at which point he was sitting on a 3.89 ERA. After that, Irabu pitched to a 6.63 ERA in the final two months, and opponents hit .295/.362/.467 against him. He allowed eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in a postseason mop-up appearance.

As for Rivera, he spent four seasons with the Padres and underwhelmed, hitting .204/.301/.397 in 394 games. He bounced around a bit after that, including returning to the Yankees in 2005 and getting released after stealing Derek Jeter’s glove, and eventually settled in as a star in the Mexican League. Rivera was still active at age 45 in 2019.

Dec. 22, 1999: Yankees trade Irabu for Jake Westbrook

Irabu’s poor performance and general indifference frustrated the Yankees and they made the decision to move on following the 1999 season. They sent him to Montreal for three young pitchers in a move that also cleared a big-league roster spot for prized pitching prospect Ed Yarnall, who never did amount to much.

Here are the trade details:

  • Yankees receive: Jake Westbrook, Ted Lilly, and Christian Parker
  • Expos receive: Hideki Irabu

“Hideki came in with a lot of fanfare,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman told the Associated Press at the time. “He wanted us as badly as we wanted him. There were some good times and some tough times as well. We saw those flashes of brilliance that attracted us when he was a free agent coming out of Japan.”

Irabu’s two seasons in Montreal were disastrous. He got hurt and pitched poorly (6.69 ERA in 71 1/3 innings), but did save 16 games with the Rangers in 2002. Irabu returned to Japan in 2003. His tale has a tragic end, sadly. Irabu battled alcoholism and legal problems after his playing career ended, and committed suicide in 2011.

For the Yankees, the trade was about building depth. Lilly and Westbrook spent 2000 as up-and-down depth arms, though Lilly was eventually able to build some staying power. He remained with New York until being sent to the Athletics in the three-team Jeff Weaver trade at the 2002 deadline. That trade doesn’t contribute to the Judge transactions tree but it is worth mentioning.

Westbrook, a former Rockies first-round pick who went to the Expos in the 1997 Mark Lansing trade, allowed 10 runs in 6 2/3 innings spanning three big-league appearances with the Yankees in June 2000. That was his first taste of MLB and his only three appearances with New York. A few weeks later the Yankees used him to improve their roster.

June 29, 2000: Yankees trade Westbrook for David Justice

The Yankees won four World Series titles in five years from 1996-2000 and the 2000 team was the weakest of the four. On the day of this trade, they were three games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East and had scored the fifth fewest runs in the American League. New York need another bat and they used Westbrook to get that bat a month before the deadline.

Here is the next trade in the transaction tree:

  • Yankees receive: David Justice
  • Indians receive: Jake Westbrook, Zach Day, and Ricky Ledee

“We’re getting a professional hitter who has been in every postseason but one since 1991,” Cashman told Buster Olney of the New York Times after the trade. “His makeup is built for New York. No question, it’s an upgrade.”

Truth be told, Justice was Plan C for the Yankees. They turned to Justice only after failing to complete trades for Sammy Sosa and Juan Gonzalez. “We had a player who was desirable if they couldn’t pull off a Sammy Sosa or Juan Gonzalez deal. We were waiting in line,” Indians then-GM John Hart told the Associated Press following the Justice trade.

Justice proved to be exactly what the Yankees needed. He went on a three-month rampage in pinstripes, hitting .305/.391/.585 with 20 home runs in 78 games after the trade. He drove in 60 runs. In his signature moment as a Yankee, Justice hit a go-ahead three-run home run against Arthur Rhodes and the Mariners in Game 6 of the ALCS to give the Yankees their third straight pennant.

The Indians made themselves a fine little trade, it should be noted. Westbrook spent nine years with Cleveland as a league average (and oftentimes better) innings-eater before being sent to the Cardinals in the three-team trade that gave the Indians Corey Kluber. Ledee was flipped for David Segui a month after being acquired and Day was used to acquire Milton Bradley the following summer.

Dec. 7, 2001: Yankees trade Justice for Robin Ventura

Justice’s encore with the Yankees did not go quite as well as his 2000 arrival. A nagging groin injury limited Justice to 111 games and saw him hit .241/.333/.430 with 18 home runs in 2001. The club had a void at third base and that led them to Ventura. The one-for-one trade was the first player-for-player Yankees-Mets trade in eight years.

“It was obvious that we had a void to fill at third base in 2002,” Cashman told ESPN following the trade. “It is our belief that Robin — with his left-handed bat and on-base average — was our best option.”  

Ventura was rock solid for the Yankees in 2002, hitting .247/.368/.458 with 27 home runs. He was an upgrade over late career Scott Brosius, who retired the previous offseason, as his lefty power fit well in Yankee Stadium and his Gold Glove caliber defense helped the pitching staff. Ventura was a perfect fit in 2002 the same way Justice was a perfect fit in 2000.

As for Justice, his time with the Mets was brief. He was flipped to the A’s one week later for relievers Mark Guthrie and Tyler Yates. Oakland acquired Justice in part to replace Jason Giambi, who signed with the Yankees as a free agent. “We feel like we’ve got a guy who’s one year removed from being an MVP candidate,” A’s GM Billy Beane told the Associated Press at the time.

July 31, 2003: Yankees trade Ventura for Scott Proctor

Similar to Justice, Ventura’s second season with the Yankees was not nearly as good as his first. He dipped to .251/.344/.392 with nine home runs through 89 games in 2003, which pushed New York back into the third base market. They acquired Aaron Boone at the trade deadline and flipped Ventura to the Dodgers in a related move. Ventura spent the next year and a half with Los Angeles.

Here is the full Ventura trade:

  • Yankees receive: Scott Proctor and Bubba Crosby
  • Dodgers receive: Robin Ventura

“He did a tremendous job as a Yankee. I can’t say enough about what Robin was here for us, and how he was in the clubhouse as well. But the fact of the matter is because of the stage in his career it was likely that we would be looking for a third baseman this winter,” Cashman told the New York Post‘s George King. “I think third base is the most difficult position to fill in the major leagues. When Aaron Boone became available on the market we felt it was one of those rare opportunities and one of those opportunities we couldn’t pass up. It’s not only a deal for next year but upgrades that position significantly at third base this year.”

Boone’s stint in pinstripes was short but memorable. He of course swatted his historic walk-off home run in Game 7 of the ALCS that year, but then he tore up his knee playing basketball in the offseason, leading to the Yankees trading for Alex Rodriguez. You can also draw a straight line from Boone’s time with the Yankees as a player to him being named their manager two years ago.

Crosby and Proctor both spent several years in the Bronx. Crosby was a defense-first fourth outfielder who occasionally started — Cashman famously said Crosby was the team’s center fielder not longer before signing Johnny Damon — while Proctor settled in as a trusted Swiss Army Knife reliever. In his best season, 2006, he had a 3.52 ERA in 83 appearances and 102 1/3 innings.

July 21, 2007: Yankees trade Proctor for Wilson Betemit

Proctor’s effectiveness and durability led to manager Joe Torre using him a lot. A lot. Those 83 appearances and 102 1/3 innings in 2006 were followed by 52 appearances and 54 1/3 innings in the team’s first 103 games in 2007. Proctor’s effectiveness began to wane and things got so bad in June he burned some equipment on the field following a loss. He was trying to erase the bad mojo.

The Yankees had pitching depth that summer but were lacking on the bench, so, prior to the deadline, Cashman sent the overworked Proctor back to the Dodgers in a one-for-one trade with Betemit. “I’m glad Joe put me in as many games he did. It showed he had confidence in me and I have nothing but respect for him. I want to go out and pitch every night if I can,” Proctor told the Associated Press after the trade.

“There are certain guys in my system right now that I have people telling me could replace Scott Proctor,” Cashman told reporters, including Tyler Kepner of the New York Times, following the trade. “And if that’s the case, that’s what made me consider the opportunity for Wilson Betemit. We have needs, there’s no doubt about that. But there’s a belief that some of those needs might very well be met from within.”

Betemit, only 25 at the time, was a former top prospect who had not yet found his way at the MLB level. The Yankees used him as a true bench player behind their star-studded infield (A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano) the next season and a half, during which he hit an underwhelming .253/.286/.425 with 10 homers in 124 games. New York rolled the dice on a talented young player and didn’t work out as hoped.

Proctor pitched well with the Dodgers in 2007 (3.38 ERA in 32 innings) before being hurt and ineffective in 2008 (6.05 ERA in 38 2/3 innings) and missing the entire 2009 season with injury. The Yankees brought him back as a scrap heap pickup late in 2011 and, in his final act on an MLB mound, Proctor allowed Evan Longoria’s walk-off home run in Game 162. The home run combined with the Red Sox’s collapse put the Rays in the postseason.

As for replacing Proctor in the bullpen in 2007, the Yankees called up top prospect Joba Chamberlain in August and he quickly emerged as Rivera’s primary setup man. Chamberlain allowed two runs (one earned) with 34 strikeouts in 24 innings after being summoned.

Nov. 13, 2008: Yankees trade Betemit for Nick Swisher

The Yankees were the most active team in the game during the 2008-09 offseason. They signed CC Sabathia to what was then the richest pitching contract in baseball history. They added A.J. Burnett on a lucrative free agent contract to further bolster the rotation. Cashman then convinced ownership to splurge for Mark Teixeira and signed him out from under the Red Sox.

That busy offseason started in mid-November with the Swisher trade. Swisher had a disappointing 2008 season with the White Sox (.219/.332/.410) and his personality — Swisher’s dial is perpetually turned to 11 — didn’t mix well with a clubhouse that included manager Ozzie Guillen and no nonsense veterans like Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle. It was a bad fit and the White Sox were ready to move on.

Cashman and the Yankees to happy to oblige. They looked past Swisher’s underwhelming 2008 season and saw a 28-year-old switch-hitter with power and track record of getting on base signed to a team-friendly long-term contract. The Yankees had to replace Bobby Abreu in right field and Jason Giambi at first base that winter. Swisher was versatile enough to fill either role.

“We did our due diligence and engaged our scouts and we believe and are hoping that ’07 and ’06 are more representative of Nick Swisher than ’08. It was a risk we were willing to take,” Cashman told Bill Madden and Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News following the trade. Here are the full details:

  • Yankees receive: Nick Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira
  • White Sox receive: Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez

The trade has since gone down as one of Cashman’s greatest heists. Swisher hit .249/.371/.498 with 29 homers during a bounce-back 2009 season and was a key contributor to that year’s World Series championship team. In four years as a Yankee, Swisher managed a .268/.367/.483 batting line with 105 homers and 11.9 WAR. They got the A’s version of Swisher, not the White Sox version.

Betemit’s stint with the White Sox lasted less than three months. He was designated for assignment in June after hitting .200/.280/.311 in 20 games. The move cleared a roster spot for top prospect Gordon Beckham. Betemit spent the rest of 2009 in Triple-A before bouncing around other organizations the next few years. Nunez and Marquez combined to throw 6 2/3 innings for Chicago.

Nov. 9, 2012: Swisher rejects $13.3 million qualifying offer

The original five-year, $26.75 million contract Swisher signed with the Athletics in May 2007 expired following the 2012 season, though the Yankees had little to no interest in retaining him. Swisher was now on the wrong side of 30 and the club re-signed Ichiro Suzuki to play right field following his strong work late in 2012.

There was another motivation behind letting Swisher go: a draft pick. The Yankees made Swisher the $13.3 million qualifying offer, which he of course rejected, entitling New York to draft pick compensation should he sign elsewhere. Swisher eventually signed a four-year, $56 million free agent deal with the Indians that didn’t work out at despite a solid 2013 season.

As compensation for losing Swisher, the Yankees received a supplemental first-round pick in the 2013 draft. It was the 32nd overall selection. They also held the 26th overall pick (their natural first rounder) and the 33rd overall pick (compensation for losing Rafael Soriano to free agency). Hiroki Kuroda rejected the qualifying offer as well, though he later re-signed with the Yankees.

“I’m excited about the opportunities we have,” Cashman told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News after Swisher and Soriano declined the qualifying offer. “I like the fact that we can continue dialogue with everybody that we would like to and still be in a position to gain draft picks as a worst-case scenario, which would benefit our farm system as we move forward.”

June 8, 2013: Yankees draft Aaron Judge

Going into the 2013 draft, Baseball America ranked Judge as the 30th-best prospect in the class. His raw power was obvious, and he hit .369/.461/.655 his junior year at Fresno State, but concerns about his long levers and swings and misses — Judge struck out 53 times in 56 games as a junior, a very high total for a first-round draft prospect — pushed him down draft boards.

Here is a snippet of Baseball America‘s predraft scouting report:

Judge puts on jaw-dropping batting practice displays, but some scouts worry that his power won’t translate to games … Judge profiles as a .250 hitter and is going to strike out a lot, which comes with the territory for tall power hitters with long arms. A team can live with the strikeouts if he hits 30-plus home runs a year. While his swing is more about strength and leverage than bat speed, he has light-tower power. Judge is a solid-average runner with an above-average arm and will be a solid defender in right field.

The Yankees used their natural first round pick, the 26th overall selection, on Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo. Jagielo was later sent to the Reds in the first Aroldis Chapman trade. The Yankees used their next pick, the 32nd overall selection and the Swisher compensation pick, on Judge. Judge was among the prospects in attendance at the MLB Network studios on draft day.

“I was hoping,” Judge said during the draft broadcast. “Everyone wants to be a Yankee, so I was happy to hear my name called.”  

“Aaron Judge is a big man, and obviously a great-bodied athlete who has a high upside,” Yankees amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer said in a statement following the draft. “He can run, he has a good work ethic, he can throw and has the potential to be a five-tool guy with some size and strength.”

Because he’s so big and had to work hard to refine his swing, Judge’s climb up the minors was slower than the typical college first-round pick. He split 2014 between two Single-A levels, 2015 between Double-A and Triple-A, and he opened 2016 back in Triple-A before making his MLB debut in August. He’s been New York’s full-time right fielder and one of the game’s most productive players since. Judge is 17th in WAR (19.1) despite being 151st in games played (396) since Opening Day 2016.

The transactions tree that landed Judge in pinstripes started with another top outfield prospect way back in 1990. It took nearly three decades to go from Rivera to Irabu to Westbrook to Justice to Ventura to Proctor to Betemit to Swisher to Judge, and an awful lot happened along the way (Justice’s heroics, a rare Yankees-Mets trade, Boone’s homer, etc.). This tree could end with Judge if he retires as a Yankee, or it could keep going long after he retires. Either way, it’s been eventful, and the story is not yet close to ending.



Liverpool secure much-needed win against Rangers, Nunez struggles

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LIVERPOOL — Jurgen Klopp’s side improved their chances of making the Champions League knockout stage after their 2-0 win against Rangers at Anfield.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (U.S.)

Trent Alexander-Arnold scored a stunning free kick after being the subject of criticism for his defensive errors of late. Luis Diaz drew a foul in the second half in the penalty box, which Mohamed Salah then converted to seal the win for Liverpool.

Rangers are in dire form as they sit bottom of their group and have failed to score so far in any of their three Champions League matches this season.

JUMP TO: Player ratings | Best/worst performers | Highlights and notable moments | Post-match quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures


Rapid Reaction:

1. Liverpool make easy work of Rangers to boost Champions League hopes

Liverpool secured a much-needed win against Rangers as a Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick and Mohamed Salah penalty completed a comfortable victory at Anfield and consolidated second spot in Champions League Group A. Having suffered a 4-1 defeat against Napoli in the opening game last month, last season’s Champions League runners-up extended their revival in the group by moving three points clear of Ajax in the race to qualify for the knock-out stages. And although the game was short on incident and goals from open play, the victory was much-needed for Liverpool following a disappointing start to the league season that sees Jurgen Klopp’s team currently lying in ninth position in the Premier League.

Klopp had said that his team needed to go back to basics and focus simply on getting the job done after seeing his side draw 3-3 at home to Brighton on Saturday. Fabinho was taken out of the starting line-up, replaced by Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara, as Klopp switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation, but it was Liverpool’s greater quality rather than tactical tweaks that proved the undoing of Rangers. The Scottish club struggled to compete against the English team and Liverpool were never threatened by Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side. And after a run of indifferent results, Rangers provided the perfect opposition for Liverpool to get back to winning ways. It may be a different story next week at what is likely to be a noisy and intimidating Ibrox, but another win in Glasgow will give Liverpool a firm grip on qualification and it is difficult to envisage Rangers upsetting the Premier League team.

2. Darwin Nunez searching for form and confidence

Darwin Nunez looked a world-beater on his Liverpool debut against Manchester City in the Community Shield less than two months ago, but the £75 million summer signing from Benfica has now failed to score since the opening day of the season after another goalless display against Rangers. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said before this game that he and his assistant Pep Lijnders have spoken to the Uruguay international and attempted to reassure him that his performances will quickly improve. But the 23-year-old looked short of belief against Rangers and a number of missed chances will do little to boost his confidence.

Rangers keeper Allan McGregor made three key saves to deny Nunez a much-needed goal during the first-half at Anfield and although he provided a physical presence for Liverpool to play into up-front, it rarely ended with a neat move or interplay with his attacking team-mates. The three-match ban he had to serve following a red card against Crystal Palace, and then the two postponements due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II, have combined to deny Nunez of the games and momentum he needed to find some consistency. Nunez has now gone six games without a goal. With Arsenal away on Sunday, Liverpool need him to start scoring soon.

3. Rangers out of their depth in Champions League

Rangers shocked Europe last season by making it all the way to the Europa League final, but the Scottish club have had a painful reality check in their first Champions League campaign since 2010. Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team were outclassed by Liverpool at Anfield and the gulf between the two sides was huge, despite Jurgen Klopp’s side still being some way off their best form in the Premier League. Aside from goalkeeper Allan McGregor, who made a series of saves to keep the scoreline respectable, every Rangers player struggled to match up against their direct opponent and they looked a shadow of the side which defeated Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig on the way to losing the Europa League final on penalties against Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville.

Simply getting back to the Champions League group stages this season has been a major achievement for Rangers, who have seen rivals Celtic enjoy a number of campaigns in the competition over recent years. But although they are a club with a proud history and formidable support, Rangers look like rookies in the Champions League and their challenge now is to ensure that they don’t end up with six straight defeats in Group A. After three games, they have no wins, no points and no goals, but it won’t be easy to buck that trend in the remaining games against Liverpool, Napoli and Ajax.


Player ratings

Liverpool: Alisson 6; Alexander-Arnold 7, Matip 7, Van Dijk 7, Tsimikas 6; Henderson 6, Thiago 7 Salah 7, Jota 7, Diaz 7, Nunez 6.
Subs: Fabinho 6, Firmino 6, Elliott 6, Milner 6

Rangers: McGregor 9; Tavernier 5, Goldson 6, Davies 5, King 5, Barisic 5; Lundstram 5, Davis 6; Tillman 5, Kent 6, Morelos 4.
Subs: Sakala 6, Jack 6, Colak 6, Kamara 6, Matondo 6.


Best and worst performers

BEST: Allan McGregor

The Rangers goalkeeper performed a retirement U-turn at the end of last season and chose to continue for another year at Ibrox, and the 40-year-old justified that decision with a defiant display at Anfield. Rangers could have been humiliated but for McGregor.

WORST: Alfredo Morelos

The Colombia forward has scored at a rate of a goal almost every two games for Rangers since arriving in 2017, but despite his track record in Scotland, he failed to make any kind of impact against Liverpool, allowing Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip their easiest game of the season.


Highlights and notable moments

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s excellent free kick gave Liverpool the lead in the 7th minute.

Salah doubled Liverpool’s lead after Luis Diaz was fouled in the penalty box.


After the match: What the managers, players said


Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

– Since 2010-11, Trent Alexander-Arnold is the only Englishman with more than 1 direct free kick goal in Champions League play. Tuesday marked his 2nd after scoring one against Hoffenheim in qualifying play in Aug. 2017. Marcus Rashford, Steven Gerrard and Jadon Sancho each have 1 direct free kick goal in Champions League competitions since 2010-11

– Mohamed Salah is now 1 goal shy of tying the record for most UCL goals scored by a player representing an English club.


Up next

Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp’s side have a difficult set of fixtures ahead, as they face an in-form Arsenal next on Oct. 9, who are currently top of the Premier League, before a visit Rangers on Oct. 12 and then a home match against Manchester City. Liverpool are struggling in the Premier League in 9th place, and will look to turn things around in domestic competition after winning their last two Champions League matches.

Rangers: Currently in second place in the Scottish Premiership, Rangers face St. Mirren next on Oct. 8 before playing Liverpool in the Champions League and then Dundee FC in the Scottish League Cup quarter-final.



MLB home run record: List of most home runs in a season, single-season leaders as Aaron Judge hits No. 62

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Yankees slugger Aaron Judge clubbed his 62nd home run of the season to rewrite baseball’s history books Tuesday night against the Rangers. The home run broke a tie with Roger Maris, giving Judge sole possession of the American League single-season record.

Judge is having a truly historic campaign, as he leads the majors in home runs, runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, total bases, WAR and several other categories. 

One might have a few questions about that mark, so let’s get down and dirty with the all-time leaderboards. Just the facts here. 

Most single-season home runs, MLB

1. Barry Bonds, 73, 2001
2. Mark McGwire, 70, 1998
3. Sammy Sosa, 66, 1998
4. Mark McGwire, 65, 1999
5. Sammy Sosa, 64, 2001
6. Sammy Sosa, 63, 1999
7. Aaron Judge, 62, 2022
8. Roger Maris, 61, 1961
9. Babe Ruth, 60, 1927
T10. Giancarlo Stanton, 59, 2017
T10. Babe Ruth, 59, 1921

Most single-season home runs, American League

1. Aaron Judge, 62, 2022
2. Roger Maris, 61, 1961
3. Babe Ruth, 60, 1927
T4. Hank Greenberg, 58, 1938
T4. Jimmie Foxx, 58, 1932
6. Alex Rodriguez, 57, 2002
T7. Ken Griffey Jr., 56, 1998
T7. Ken Griffey, Jr., 56, 1997
T9. Jose Bautista, 54, 2010
T9. Alex Rodriguez, 54, 2007
T9. David Ortiz, 54, 2006
T9. Mickey Mantle, 54, 1961
T9. Babe Ruth, 54, 1928
T9. Babe Ruth, 54, 1920

Most single-season home runs, National League

1. Barry Bonds, 73, 2001
2. Mark McGwire, 70, 1998
3. Sammy Sosa, 66, 1998
4. Mark McGwire, 65, 1999
5. Sammy Sosa, 64, 2001
6. Sammy Sosa, 63, 1999
7. Giancarlo Stanton, 59, 2017
8. Ryan Howard, 58, 2006
9. Luis Gonzalez, 57, 2001
10. Hack Wilson, 56, 1930 

Fastest to 60 home runs (by team games)

1. Barry Bonds, 141 games, 2001
2. Mark McGwire, 142 games, 1998
3. Aaron Judge, 147 games, 2022
4. Sammy Sosa, 148 games, 1999
5. Sammy Sosa, 149 games, 1998
6. Babe Ruth, 154 games, 1927
7. Mark McGwire, 155 games, 1999
8. Sammy Sosa, 157 games, 2001
9. Roger Maris, 159 games, 1961

Fastest to 61 home runs (by team games)

T1. Barry Bonds, 144, 2001
T1. Mark McGwire, 144, 1998
3. Sammy Sosa, 149, 1999
4. Sammy Sosa, 150, 1998
5. Aaron Judge, 155, 2022
6. Mark McGwire, 156, 1999
7. Sammy Sosa, 158, 2001
8. Roger Maris, 163, 1961

Fastest to 62 home runs (by team games)

1. Barry Bonds, 144, 2001
2. Mark McGwire, 145, 1998
3. Sammy Sosa, 150, 1998
T4. Mark McGwire, 157, 1999
T4. Sammy Sosa, 157, 1999
6. Sammy Sosa, 160, 2001
7. Aaron Judge, 161, 2022

So, as you can see, what Judge is doing in 2022 is truly historic. Judge will likely get a day off in the season’s final day before the Yankees start their World Series chase in the ALDS next week.



Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson, Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler stepping aside during NWSL investigation

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Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler are both stepping away from decision-making roles with their respective National Women’s Soccer League clubs until the findings are released from an ongoing investigation into numerous reports of sexual misconduct and abuse around the league.

Paulson, who is also the owner of Major League Soccer’s Portland Timbers, announced his decision in a statement Tuesday, one day after the release of the findings of a disturbing independent investigation into the NWSL’s abuse commissioned by U.S. Soccer. A concurrent investigation is still being conducted jointly by the league and the players’ union, and Paulson plans to step away until its completion.

“Yesterday’s Yates report unveiling was the darkest day I have experienced, and I know the same is true for everyone else who loves our team and our league,” Paulson said. “I know it was even harder and darker for those whose stories were shared publicly. I cannot apologize enough for our role in a gross systemic failure to protect player safety and the missteps we made in 2015. I am truly sorry.”

Later on Tuesday, Whisler, who also serves on the NWSL board of governors, made a similar move with the Red Stars, announcing in a statement: “Our organization is committed to rebuilding trust and respect among players and staff towards our league and club, and I recognize that my current presence is a distraction. I do not want to take any of the attention away from the players’ incredible and well earned playoff run.

“So in the interest of the club and the players, and fans we serve, effective immediately, I will remove myself from my governance role within the NWSL board of governors and will hand over operational control of the club to our executive team in Chicago.”

Yates’ report found that Whisler dismissed concerns from players about the abusive behavior of Red Stars coach Rory Dames, who resigned Nov. 21, 2021, amid accusations of verbal and emotional abuse by several players.

Gavin Wilkinson and Mike Golub, who have both served in executive roles with Paulson’s teams, are also stepping away from the Thorns, who are headed into the NWSL playoffs. Paulson’s statement didn’t indicate whether the trio will also step away from the Timbers, and Paulson gave no indication he plans to sell his teams.

NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman issued the following statement Tuesday in support of the two owners’ decisions: “The NWSL is supportive of the important steps taken by the Portland Thorns and Chicago Red Stars today. As the League continues to evaluate the Yates report, I want to assure you that we remain committed to implementing reform and disciplinary action, both as a result of the Yates Report and the NWSL/NWSLPA’s Joint Investigative Team’s findings.”

Berman added that the NWSL’s joint investigative team was working towards concluding their report by the end of the year.

In the report filed by former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Paulson is accused of enabling and supporting former Thorns coach Paul Riley after Riley was accused of harassment and sexual coercion by players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim. The investigation also found that Paulson and Wilkinson made inappropriate workplace comments to women.

Golub is accused of making inappropriate sexual remarks in 2013 to former Thorns coach Cindy Parlow Cone, now the president of U.S. Soccer. Golub has previously faced criticism for his workplace behavior and his tolerance for others’ misbehavior.

In her investigative report, Yates also accused Thorns management of not being forthcoming with information around Riley’s departure from the team in 2015, writing that the club “interfered with our access to relevant witnesses and raised specious legal arguments in an attempt to impede our use of relevant documents.”

The Thorns didn’t announce why they weren’t renewing Riley’s contract that year, and Paulson subsequently vouched for Riley as he landed a job with the Western New York Flash, which subsequently became the North Carolina Courage. Riley was with the Courage until being fired in September 2021 after allegations of his misconduct were made public.

Heather Davis, the general counsel for the Thorns, will oversee the team’s decisions in Paulson’s absence.

“I very much appreciate your patience and believe it’s critical that the process play out with the Joint Investigation,” Paulson wrote in his announcement of his decision. “I love the Portland Thorns and women’s soccer, and am taking these steps with those interests in mind.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.

How to Get Jio 5G Welcome Offer? (FAQs Answered)

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Just after India Mobile Congress (IMC) wrapped up the Jio 5G Welcome offer has been announced, which many users have been waiting for. It will start rolling out to four cities from Dusshera (5th October 2022). Read on as we have shared complete details of the Jio welcome offer, and answered all the questions running in your mind. Additionally, you can also learn about airtel 5G supported bands, plans, and roll-out cities.

Jio 5G welcome offer

Jio 5G Welcome Offer: Everything You Need to Know

The Jio Welcome offer will be available in four cities namely Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Varanasi, starting 5th October 2022. It will be rolled out to all users, via Jio’s  invitation system, so you need to wait for the welcome offer to be pushed to your number. Your Jio plan will upgrade to the Jio True 5G offer automatically and you don’t need a new SIM to enjoy 5G services on your 5G-enabled smartphone.

Jio 5G India

The benefits under the 5G welcome offer include unlimited 5G data up to 1 Gbps+ speed. Jio is calling welcome offer beta trial, similar to what we saw with 4G. This beta will be available to users until the network coverage of a city is substantially complete to provide the best coverage and user experience to every customer, and the 5G plans are announced by the company.

Mr. Akash Ambani (Chairman, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.) calls Jio 5G as “world’s most advanced 5G network, built for every Indian, by Indians”. He further added, “5G cannot remain an exclusive service available to the privileged few or those in our largest cities. It must be available to every citizen, every home, and every business across India”. This is why Jio is the only operator with the 700 MHz low-band spectrum to ensure deep indoor coverage.

Jio 5G welcome offer

Jio 5G is built on stand-alone architecture with no dependency on 4G. This will allow low latency, 5G voice, Edge computing, network slicing, and 5G carrier aggregation. Now, let’s have a look at commonly asked FAQs around Jio welcome offer.

FAQs

Q: What is Jio 5G Welcome Offer?

A: Starting on 5th October, the Jio 5G welcome offer Unlimited 5G data, with up to 1 Gbps+ data speed. It is a beta trial offer.

Q: Where is Jio 5G Welcome Offer available?

A: The Jio 5G offer is available in four cities, namely Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Varanasi, starting from 5th October 2022.

Q: Do I need to get a new Jio Sim to use 5G, and Jio Welcome Offer?

A: No. The welcome offer can be availed without getting a new SIM. As the existing Jio SIM and your current 5G phone are enough to claim a welcome offer in selected cities.

Q: How can I get Jio 5G Welcome offer?

A: 5G welcome offer is available only to users invited by Jio, in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata & Varanasi. It will expand to other cities soon.

Q: Is Jio 5G Welcome Offer Free?

A: Yes, eligible Jio users can enjoy the welcome offer, till the network covers the entire city. As of now, there are no details about the 5G plans price from Jio.

Jio 5G welcome offer

Q: When will Jio 5G Offer come to other cities?

A: The beta trial service for other cities will come to other cities as they get ready.

Q: When will Jio 5G Welcome offer End?

A: Users, can continue to avail of this 5G Welcome Offer under beta trial until the network coverage of a city is substantially complete to provide the best coverage and user experience to every customer.

Q: Why can’t I use Jio 5G on my Phone?

A: In order to use Jio 5G, your phone’s brand need to push an Over the Air (OTA) update, to enable 5G on your phone. Realme has already started pushing the update from 1st October, other brands will follow soon.

Q: How to register for Jio 5G Welcome Offer?

A: In order to get the Jio welcome offer, you need to wait for an invitation from Jio. As of now, it is available only to users in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata & Varanasi. It will expand to other cities soon.

Q: Will Jio 5G work on my 5G phone?

A: Jio 5G will work on most 5G phones, for more clarity you can check the bands Jio will use in your area and match them with bands on your phone.

Wrapping Up

So in this read, we covered everything around Jio’s welcome offer and answered the most commonly asked questions about it. I hope you found this useful; if you did make sure to like and share it with your friends and family. Check out other useful articles linked below, and stay tuned for more such tech tips, tricks, how-to’s, reviews, and more.

Also, Read:

You can also follow us for instant tech news at Google News or for tips and tricks, smartphones & gadgets reviews, join GadgetsToUse Telegram Group or for the latest review videos subscribe GadgetsToUse YouTube Channel.

Angelina Jolie accuses Brad Pitt of abuse on private plane

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Ms Jolie says Mr Pitt grabbed her by the head and attacked two of their children. He denies the claim.

USWNT and NWSL players say owners and executives who facilitated system of abuse ‘should be gone’

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The U.S. Soccer Federation released the full Sally Q. Yates report and recommendations on Monday after a year-long investigation was spearheaded based on expansive reports that highlighted misconduct, harassment and abuse throughout women’s professional soccer. The 300-plus-page report included interviews of over 200 players, coaches, owners and front office staff across former and current USSF personnel and NWSL clubs.

The report includes expanded and new details of previous reports and allegations around several NWSL executives, former head coaches and U.S. Soccer leadership where “systemic” abuse was allowed to thrive due to a failure to act on player complaints of abuse. The Yates investigation also highlighted areas of concern for young women and girls at the youth levels of soccer and included recommendations to be applied federation-wide, not just to the NWSL or the professional leagues.

U.S. Soccer has since announced immediate next steps as they continue to develop and work on fulfilling the eight specific recommendations from the Yates investigation. NWSL clubs Portland Thorns FC, Chicago Red Stars and Racing Louisville FC are specifically highlighted throughout the report as environments where toxic behaviors and abuse were allowed to thrive. 

Portland Thorns FC owner Merritt Paulson released a statement on Tuesday “removing [himself] effective today from all Thorns-related decision making until the NWSL/NWSLPA joint investigation, which we are fully cooperating with, is released.” 

The statement also mentioned Gavin Wilkinson and Mike Golub — who were mentioned throughout the investigative report — would also be stepping aside, and all “Thorns-related decisions will now be handled” by Heather Davis, Thorns general counsel. The statement is currently the only public statement by an NWSL club investigated in the Yates report.

Chicago Red Stars principle owner Arnim Whisler also released a statement announcing a similar step back, though chief business officer Vicky Lynch told media in February that a day-to-day internal step back had already occurred at the club. Whisler has stated he will, “remove myself from my governance role within the NWSL board of governors and will hand over operational control of the club to our executive team in Chicago.”

Players have had enough of the lies and coverup

Since the release of the extensive Yates report to the public, several players — current and former — have been vocal about the removal of ownership, executives and officials from the women’s game moving forward. A joint statement from Mana Shim, Sinead Farrelly and Erin Simon — who each shared their respective graphic trauma of sexual harassment and misconduct — called for the removal of owners who were “complicit” and “should be removed from governance immediately.”

Angel City FC striker Sydney Leroux, a Women’s World Cup champion with the United States in 2015, tweeted after the report was made public, saying “It’s my belief that when serious allegations are brought to you and you ignore us … you should have absolutely nothing to do with this sport ever again. Period.”

As the United States women’s national team prepare for friendlies against England and Spain in Europe during the international window, USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn also made clear that the desire for certain members of leadership and ownership “should be gone” as players addressed the media on Tuesday.

“You have failed in your stewardship,” Sauerbrunn said in opening comments. “And it’s my opinion that every owner and executive and U.S. Soccer official who has repeatedly failed the players, and failed to protect the players, who have hidden behind legalities — and have not participated fully in the investigations should be gone. And at the bare minimum, the recommendations that are in the Sally Yates report should be immediately implemented. by U.S. Soccer and by the league.”



Twitter reacts to Aaron Judge breaking Roger Maris’ home run record

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New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge made baseball history on Tuesday with his 62nd homer of the MLB season, breaking Roger Maris’ American League home run record that stood for over six decades.

Judge smashed the record-breaking ball in the first inning against the Texas Rangers. He hit the dinger in the leadoff spot, his fourth career home run from that position, all coming this year, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He now sits alone at seventh on the all-time single-season home runs list.

The historic feat only adds to Judge’s sensational season. Entering Tuesday’s game, he touted a .310 batting average, a 1.106 OPS and 130 RBIs. He also is in the running for the Triple Crown, another accolade he could add to his accomplishments this year.

Sports Twitter took notice of Judge’s record-breaking moment, and many stars, including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Yankees legend Derek Jeter and more, commended the outfielder on an incredible achievement.



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