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Aaron Judge bashes 49th home run, tying Mark McGwire rookie record

New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge has tied Mark McGwire's rookie home run record of 49 with a third-inning, two-run shot off Kansas City Royals starter Jake Junis.

Judge still has seven games to become the first rookie in major league history with 50 homers.

The 25-year-old, right-handed hitter's nearly unprecedented power output has been a revelation for the Yankees. While there was never a question of the strength of the 6-foot-7, 282-pound Judge, there were doubts about whether he would be able to make contact often enough to justify a regular spot in the order.

In 2016, Judge made his MLB debut, hitting a home run in his first plate appearance, but he struck out 42 of his 84-at-bats, hitting .179. He has included that batting average in review of his pregame notes throughout 2017.

In the first half of the season, Judge was the talk of baseball, hitting 30 home runs before the break to make the All-Star team. He won the Home Run Derby, and even commissioner Rob Manfred did not think it was out of bounds to speculate about Judge being the next face of the sport.

Judge struggled for weeks, though, to start the second half, but he has turned it around in the past month, which has vaulted his name back into the American League MVP race. He is seemingly a lock to win AL Rookie of the Year.

In spring training, Judge almost wasn't named the starting right fielder. Despite a .931 OPS in exhibition games, the Yankees did not hand Judge the job over Aaron Hicks until the final days of spring training.