Records are meant to be broken, they say; that goes for the home run records especially. Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1927. Roger Maris hit 61 in ’61. McGwire (70) and Sosa (66) battled for the record in 1998. Barry Bonds is now the man on top after bashing 73 home runs in 2001. Fast-forward 19 years, and the record still sits at 73.
On Sunday, ESPN aired their newest 30 for 30, “Long Gone Summer,” which featured Mark McGwire’s and Sammy Sosa’s chase for the home run record. This got us to thinking: who’s next?
While home runs have been skyrocketing in Major League Baseball in the last five years, none have truly chased the single-season home run record. Is an accomplishment such as this record set in stone? Maybe there is a hitter right now that could do it.
Below features a list of players with their highest personal single-season totals that might be able to do it.
Pete Alonso (Career Best: 53 Home Runs)
He’s been in the league for one season. But that season saw former Gator and Mets first baseman Pete Alonso break the rookie home run record. Alonso’s worst month was July 2019, when he hit only six home runs. There were two months, however, where he hit 10 or more home runs. He accomplished the feat batting .260 and a strikeout rate of 30 percent. If Alonso cuts back on his K’s and puts the ball in play more, he might get the extra 21 moonshots to do it.
Aaron Judge (Career Best: 52 Home Runs)
No one in the game hits a baseball as effortlessly as Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge does right now. Two years before Alonso, Judge set the rookie home run record set by Mark McGwire in 1987. Since that dominant rookie season, Judge has faced injuries that have prevented him from reaching even 500 at-bats. Judge’s strikeout rate is also about as high, if not higher, than Alonso’s. However, if Judge can stay healthy for a full season and lower his strikeout rate, he is a prime candidate to reach 74 home runs.
Giancarlo Stanton (Career Best: 59 Home Runs)
Three years ago, Giancarlo Stanton would have been the no-doubt favorite to chase the single-season home run record. In his final year with the Marlins, Stanton fell just a home run shy of tying Babe Ruth at 60. Those 59 home runs are still most since 2001 (when the record was set). He was injured for almost all of 2019 but is a threat at the plate any time he’s up to hit. Perhaps in 2021, Stanton takes advantage of the hitters’ park that is Yankees Stadium to bring the record back to the Bronx.
Mike Trout (Career Best: 45 home runs)
Mike Trout might be more favorable to chase the career home run record, but we can’t ever count him out. The consensus best player in the game slugged 45 home runs in just 470 at-bats in 134 games. Give him 650 at-bats, and that total reaches 62 home runs to surpass Roger Maris. Give Trout the extra opportunities at the plate, and he has as good of a shot (literally) as anybody.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr (Career Best: 15 Home Runs)
Vlad Jr. has unbelievable raw power. The Home Run Derby runner-up was one of the most widely-awaited talents coming through the minor leagues last year. He just turned 21, which means he’s not even close to his prime yet. When he gets the hang of big-league pitching and reaches his prime, he may just go beyond what his hall-of-fame father could have imagined and makes history.