Point/Counterpoint: Would you rather have Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run ball or Albert Pujols’ 700th career home run?

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Sam Calhoun: Campus Correspondent (samuel.calhoun@uconn.edu) 
Evan Rodriguez: Staff Writer (evan.2.rodriguez@uconn.edu) 

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge reacts after hitting his 60th home run of the season during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in New York. AP Photo/Jessie Alcheh

The 2022 MLB season has been nothing short of historic. Beginning after a lockout cut off fans and players from the game they loved the most, the season is about ready to enter an exciting postseason battle with the top teams in baseball. However, two players who will be a part of that race for a World Series ring have captivated baseball with the long ball. While he’s hit plenty of home runs throughout his career, St. Louis Cardinals legend Albert Pujols was on the edge of making history with his 700th dinger and on Sept. 24, that’s exactly what he did in a two home-run performance against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Across the country, the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge is looking to make history as well, becoming the first player since Roger Maris in 1961 to break the American League home run record. While 62 home runs is a legendary feat in the game of baseball, a question arises as to which ball you’d rather have. Would you take Judge’s historic ball or Pujols’ 700th bomb? Staff Writer Evan Rodriguez and Campus Correspondent Sam Calhoun will argue this question in today’s edition of Point/Counterpoint. 

Evan: Albert Pujols is undoubtedly a legend in the game of baseball and when he calls it a career at the end of the 2022 season, he’ll have a plaque in Cooperstown. But, if I had to choose between either player’s historic ball, I’m going to take Aaron Judge’s American League home run record ball. Starting off, the 60 home run mark hasn’t been hit by a non-steroid user since 1961. That’s 61 years and it may not be a feat that anyone in baseball can accomplish for the rest of my own lifetime. When you add that home run total to a potential American League triple crown season and potential American League MVP award, that ball becomes the culmination of one of the greatest seasons in baseball history. 700 home runs in a career is impressive and historic in its own right, but I have to side with Judge this season. It’s nothing short of historic with what the Yankees star has accomplished.  

Sam: I see what you’re saying. What Aaron Judge has accomplished this season is nothing short of extraordinary. However, there have been nine seasons where a player has hit over 60 home runs this season (most of them being Sammy Sosa). Albert Pujols will be in Cooperstown one day, while Judge is still early in his career. There are three other players in the history of baseball that have hit over 700 home runs: Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), and Babe Ruth (714). Obviously, both balls will have a place in Cooperstown even if Judge doesn’t become the Hall of Famer he is on pace to being. However, I was just over one year old when Barry Bonds hit his 700th career home run in 2004. Despite the accomplishment coming 18 years ago, I still question how long it will be between Pujols’s 700th career homer, and the next person’s. So, with that being said, I would prefer to have Albert Pujols’s 700th career bomb. 

St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols (5) celebrates with Brendan Donovan (33) after hitting a home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Brendan Donovan and Tommy Edman also scored. It was Pujols’ 700th career home run. AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool

Evan: While it’s one of a kind to have a career like Pujols has had, you’re forgetting one crucial fact. Other than Maris and Babe Ruth, all the players that have hit over 60 home runs were using performance-enhancing drugs. There’s a reason that Bonds and Sosa have not been inducted into Cooperstown despite having some of the best power hitting seasons in baseball history. This year, Judge became the third player to hit over 60 home runs without the use of steroids. That’s legendary and something baseball fans haven’t seen for over 60 years. While Pujols hitting 700 career bombs is something that baseball fans haven’t seen in a very long time, it’s still been less time compared to when the last hitter to hit 700 home runs accomplished the feat, with Hank Aaron doing just that in 1973. If Bonds, Sosa and Mark McGwire all hit over 60 home runs without any help, I’d definitely be leaning more towards Pujols. But, considering that Judge has been able to showcase this level of power hitting without any help, I don’t think I could live with myself if I chose Pujols’ ball over Judge’s.  

Sam: I think the same can be said for why I would choose Pujols’s ball over Judge’s. Barry Bonds was using performance-enhancing drugs, while Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth’s careers were way before our generation. My parents were just toddlers when Aaron’s career came to a close, while my grandparents weren’t even born when Ruth ended his. If you excluded Bonds due to the use of steroids, Pujols would be the only 700 home run hitter in our lifetimes. The next four clean players to come after Pujols since 2000 would be Jim Thome (612), David Ortiz (541), Frank Thomas (521), and Miguel Cabrera (506). None of those players got even close to 700 and I’m not sure there will be a player without PEDs that gets there other than Pujols, Aaron and Ruth. That’s why I would take Pujols’s 700th career home run ball over Judge’s 61st home run of the season. 

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