The MLB single-season home run king is officially Barry Bonds, who hit 73 dingers back 2001. While Giancarlo Stanton isn’t necessarily on pace for that many long balls, he does have a legitimate shot at the record set by Roger Maris of 61 in ’61. So who do you consider the single-season home run king?
The history of MLB has its blemishes, but the sport is also nearly 150 years old. When Major League Baseball was established in 1869, Abraham Lincoln had been dead all of four years, so naturally (or not so naturally) there are some debates to be had about the history of the game and its record holders.
There have been eight instances where a player has hit 60 or more home runs in a season. The first, as you may have guessed, came from a 32-year-old Babe Ruth on the Murderers’ Row 1927 New York Yankees.
The second also came from a player in pinstripes 34 years later when Roger Maris slugged 61 en route to his second consecutive MVP title after manager Ralph Houk swapped Maris to the three spot in the order while moving Mickey Mantle to fourth. This resulted in better pitches to hit for Maris, who jumped up to his record-setting 61 homers after belting 39 the year before. The Commissioner at the time, Ford Frick, even said that the record had to be broken in the same number of games that Ruth was able to play in, 155. He had 59 through the club’s 154th game and hit one in game number 158 and the record-breaker in the final game of the season, number 163.
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Then of course there is the more recent trio of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. The duo of Maris and Ruth account for two of the eight times a player has hit 60 or more homers in a season, McGwire has two more of them (70 in ’98 and 65 in ’99), Sosa has three (66 in ’98, 63 in ’99 and 64 in ’01) and Bonds, the king of them all, is on the list once–at the top.
But is he at the top of the heap in the hearts and minds of the baseball fans?
In my own opinion, Maris is still the single-season champion due to the steroid allegations linked to everyone ahead of him on the list. Obviously the record books don’t reflect that and it’s totally understandable to have a difference in opinion, so that’s why we’re all presumably here.
Since Giancarlo Stanton hit number 44 of the season last night against the Giants, he’s now on pace to hit 60.689 home runs this season, which, for the sake of even numbers, is 61. That’s if he plays the rest of the Marlins 44 games, but is also extrapolated from his home run rate over the whole season, not the pace that he is currently on, which is 11 in 15 days. At that pace, he’ll hit another 32 dingers and end up with more than Barry Bonds. The latter is highly unlikely to happen, but Maris’ mark is within reach.
If you’re a supporter of the Maris camp and Stanton breaks the record of 61, would you consider Stanton to be the new single-season home run king?
If you have an opinion one way or another, I set up a poll that you can vote on at this link, but please also feel free to comment below with your hot takes and insights.