500 Home Run Club Members Knew How To Start Fast and Finish Strong Print E-mail
Written by Jim Rednour   
Thursday, 30 July 2009

When it comes to making an impact at the plate, the key for major leaguers is to “start the season with a bang”…or is it “finish it with a flash”?  Actually it’s both, a tough thing to do.  In fact, only three MLB players have hit 30 or more homers before-and-after the All Star break in the same season…and, big surprise, they’re all members of The 500 Home Run Club®.Slammin’ Sammy Sosa did so twice; in 1998 (33/33), when he was joined by his slugging mate “Big Mac” Mark McGwire (37/33).  Then, to prove it wasn’t a fluke, he did it again the following year (32/31) in 1999.

When it comes to making an impact at the plate, the key for major leaguers is to “start the season with a bang”…or is it “finish it with a flash”?  Actually it’s both, a tough thing to do.  In fact, only three MLB players have hit 30 or more homers before-and-after the All Star break in the same season…and, big surprise, they’re all members of The 500 Home Run Club®.Slammin’ Sammy Sosa did so twice; in 1998 (33/33), when he was joined by his slugging mate “Big Mac” Mark McGwire (37/33).  Then, to prove it wasn’t a fluke, he did it again the following year (32/31) in 1999.

Not to be left out, Barry Bonds set a new standard on his way to setting a single-season home run record with 73 dingers in 2001 (39/34).

Another measure that matters is that just seven heavy-hitters stars have ever completed the first half the “plate perfecta” by cranking out 30 round-trippers through the end of June (Sosa, Griffey, and Ruth each did it twice).  The current MLB big gun, St. Louis Cardinal Albert Pujols, just became the latest to achieve this exclusive feat when hit homers #29 and #30 on June 30th.

Fun Fact: Pujols also became the first major leaguer in history to hit 30 home runs during each of his first nine seasons in the bigs – WOW!

Before Prince Albert’s last minute surge, the most recent player to do so was Alex Rodriguez, who had exactly 30 at the break in 2007.

Prior to that you have to go back to 2001 when Barry Bonds and Luis “Long Gone” Gonzalez sent the long balls flying out of the park like a flock of pigeons.

Maybe it’s July’s warm weather or just the excitement of the All-Star event that gets everyone in baseball pumped up…but when you add the homers hit by top tier players between June 30 and the Mid-Summer Classic in the second week of July, the list of players with 30 or more homers balloons to more than 30…which is still a pretty elite group.  

 

Here’s the list:

Year Player Team Before After Total
1954 Willie Mays New York Giants 31 10 41
1961 Roger Maris New York Yankees 33 28 61
1964 Harmon Killebrew Minnesota Twins 30 19 49
1969 Reggie Jackson Oakland Athletics 37 10 47
1969 Frank Howard Washington Senators 34 14 48
1969 Willie McCovey San Francisco Giants 30 15 45
1971 Willie Stargell Pittsburgh Pirates 30 18 48
1973 Willie Stargell (2) Pittsburgh Pirates 30 14 44
1976 Dave Kingman New York Mets 30 7 37
1979 Mike Schmidt Philadelphia Phillies 31 14 45
1987 Mark McGwire Oakland Athletics 33 16 49
1989 Kevin Mitchell San Francisco Giants 31 16 47
1994* Ken Griffey, Jr. Seattle Mariners 33 7 40
1994* Matt Williams San Francisco Giants 33 10 43
1994* Frank Thomas Chicago White Sox 32 6 38
1996 Brady Anderson Baltimore Orioles 30 20 50
1997 Mark McGwire (2) Oakland/St. Louis 31 27 58
1997 Ken Griffey, Jr. (2) Seattle Mariners 30 26 56
1998 Mark McGwire (3) St. Louis Cardinals 37 33 70
1998 Ken Griffey, Jr. (3) Seattle Mariners 35 21 56
1998 Sammy Sosa Chicago Cubs 33 33 66
1998 Greg Vaughn San Diego Padres 30 20 50
1999 Sammy Sosa (2) Chicago Cubs 32 31 63
1999 José Canseco Tampa Bay Devil Rays 31 3 34
2000 Mark McGwire (4) St. Louis Cardinals 30 2 32
2001 Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants 39 34 73
2001 Luis González Arizona Diamondbacks 35 22 57
2003 Barry Bonds (2) San Francisco Giants 30 15 45
2006 David Ortiz Boston Red Sox 31 23 54
2006 Jim Thome Chicago White Sox 30 12 42
2007 Alex Rodriguez New York Yankees 30 24 54
2009 Albert Pujols St. Louis Cardinals 30 0 30

* Parentheses indicate multiple times achieving 30 home runs prior to All-Star Game.

** The All-Star game is not played exactly at mid-season but about 90 games in (the full season is 162 games).

*** The 1994 season was shortened due to the MLB players' strike.

Nine of the players listed above would go on to win the MVP of their respective league: Willie Mays (1954), Roger Maris (1961), Willie McCovey (1969), Kevin Mitchell (1989), Frank Thomas (1994), Ken Griffey Jr. (1997), Sammy Sosa (1998), Barry Bonds (2001 and 2003), and Alex Rodriguez (2007).  

We’ll have to wait until the end of the season to see if Albert Pujols will be the latest to claim the MVP honors after slamming 30 homers at mid-season.





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