The New York Yankees' single-season home run record is well within reach for Aaron Judge, but he isn't having too much trouble tuning out the noise.
"It's not too difficult if your main objective and your main focus is to go out there and win a game," he told reporters after hitting his 58th and 59th long balls of the season in Sunday's 12-8 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. "I'm focused on doing what I can to be a good teammate, help the team win."
There was a time when the Yankees' single-season record of 61 home runs in a season set by Roger Maris in 1961 was also the top overall mark in baseball history.
However, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa each surpassed that total, with Sosa doing so three times and McGwire doing so twice. Yet it was Bonds who set the record with 73 long balls in the 2001 campaign.
It should be noted that Bonds, McGwire and Sosa have all been tied to performance-enhancing drugs, so Judge surpassing 61 homers would be all the more impressive because he never has been at this point of his career.
Judge has been doing this in the final year of his contract, and he could be one of the most highly sought-after free agents in the sport next offseason if he and the Yankees can't reach an agreement on a new deal.
For now, though, he said his focus is on helping the team win.
New York is now 88-58 and 5.5 games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East. The division race is closer than it once was thanks to inconsistent play from the Bronx Bombers in the second half of the season, but they seem to have steadied things with a 9-4 record in their last 13.
And as long as Judge is in the middle of the lineup launching home runs, they will remain on the short list of the most realistic World Series contenders.