The Race to 756
While Santa was checking his lists for the second time, Don was busy compiling a few HR lists.
Some Home Run Lists
OK, it?s a new year, and since most everyone?s resolution
seems to be to forget as much of the old year as possible, I thought I should
oblige by steering us away from all that nasty talk of ?spin? and ?contraction.?
Enough with the labor pains already?let?s talk about the game for a change.
And what better place to do so than to dash off a few home
run lists that can orient us in what this column somewhat breathlessly calls
?the race to 756?, or the pursuit of Hank Aaron?s all-time record for
Now that Mark McGwire has retired, we?re down to two
candidates with imminent opportunity to challenge Bad Henry. (I?ll leave it
to those of you who enjoy such things to provide ?Favorite Toy? probabilisms
that add the presence of someone like Alex Rodriguez to the candidate
list; I?m only interested in looking at players whose chance of taking a run
at Aaron is something we?ll see in the next 4-7 years.)
And that means we?re looking at Barry Bonds and Ken
As I said, I leave it to others to provide the Favorite Toy
data for these two. I?m simply going to run some lists at you, make a few speculative
remarks, and then take my red cape and step aside.
Let?s start with Bonds. We know that Barry is now safely
ensconced in the Top Ten of all-time homer hitters, thanks in large part to
his amazing 2001 season. A better context for Barry?s position relative to what
his future final HR total might be, however, would be to look at a list of Most
Home Runs Hit by Players Through the Age of 36:
As we can see, Barry looks more like a contender on this list. However, with
189 HRs to go in order to catch Aaron, he?s going to have to hit 26 more HRs
after the age of 36 than Hank did. The average number of homers hit after age
36 by the players on this list is 55. Barry?s almost certainly going to exceed
that, but how many more he can likely hit is clearly lower than either the number
he needs to catch Aaron or the number Aaron hit from age 37 on.
Which brings us to another relevant home run list. Here?s
the Most Home Runs Hit by Players Aged 37 and Older:
So if Bonds cracks this list, he?ll at least wind up #3 all-time
in HRs. That certainly seems to be the likely minimum, barring any unforeseen
Now let?s turn to Junior. Moving to Cincinnati has apparently
put a damper on the Griffey juggernaut, but going into 2002, Junior still ranks
second on the list of Most Home Runs Hit by Players Through the Age of
Ken Griffey Jr.
Of course only one guy on this list actually hit more HRs
after the age of 31 than he did through the age of 31. (Yes, that?s the Babe,
and he just barely did it, with 358. We?ll see the top ten list for that in
a minute or so.)
One more quick digression: Bonds ranks fourteenth on this
list, with 334 HRs through age 31.
The average number of homers hit by the players on this list
over the balance of their careers is 177. If Junior hit that average on the
nose, it would mean two things: first, that average would likely whimper with
pain; second, Junior?s lifetime HR total would wind up at 637.
Seriously, home run hitters don?t tend to age well. Beefy
they may well be, but they?re more like chardonnay than cabernet sauvignon.
However, there?s any number of guys who?ve hit more than 200 homers after the
age of 31. (Well, it?s not any number; it?s actually eighteen.) Here?s
the list of Most Home Runs Hit by Players Aged 32 and Older:
If Junior cracks this list, he?ll have at least 662 HRs,
which would put him past Willie Mays. He?d still be ~90 short of Aaron, however.
If Bonds matches Aaron and Ruth in post age-31 HRs, he?ll
add about 125 HRs to his current total, which brings him in somewhere in the
low 690s. In order to break Aaron?s mark, he?ll have to hit 422 HRs from age
If he does that, he?ll join Ruth as the only player with
300+ HRs by age 31 to hit more homers after age 32. In order to get to that
point, he has to hit another 102 HRs from here on out.
As I said, I?ll step aside and let the readers provide Favorite
Toy projections for this (and feel free to include them for any intermediate
steps, such as matching Mays? 660 or the Babe?s 714 should that seem sufficiently
interesting). What these lists appear to tell us, however, is that it?s far
likelier that Bonds and Griffey will catch Mays than they will Aaron (and, for
that matter, the Babe).
One last list, as a small hommage to Mark McGwire.
Here are the Most Homers Hit by Players Aged 32-36:
What an amazing run, eh? Notice, though, that Bonds pulled
himself up to #3 on this list. And it will be interesting to see if Junior cracks
it, because that will tell us more about his eventual place on the all-time
list. And there?s one more slugger to keep an eye on: Sammy Sosa, with
64 homers last year and a five-year total of 279. To show you what a daunting
task is ahead of even Sammy, however, consider that he has to hit 214 HRs in
the next four years to pass McGwire on this list. That?s more than 53 HRs a
season for the next four years. You number crunchers might want to calculate
the odds on that, too, while you?re at it.
Posted: January 03, 2002 at 06:00 AM | 6 comment(s)
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