Pitching and defense win championships in baseball.
Or so the saying goes.
But it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a few prolific sluggers on your team, as well. In fact, two teams with the best records in baseball entering this weekend- the Yankees and the Dodgers- both have 500 Home Run Club members. The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez has 576 career homers, and the Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez (541) and recently-acquired Jim Thome (564) are not far behind.
In other divisions in the National League, the East-leading Phillies have young slugger Ryan Howard and the Central-leading Cardinals boast Albert Pujols. Both are well on their way to become 500 Home Run Club members in the future. Pujols entered the weekend with 44 homers this season to lead the NL. Howard was third with 38.
The Dodgers acquired Thome essentially as a left-handed pinch-hitter only, since he was a designated hitter for the Chicago White Sox. Of course, if the Dodgers advance to the World Series, Thome could become a valuable DH in the American League park.
Thome, 39, has stated that one of his goals is to reach 600 home runs. More importantly, he would love to win a World Series ring. That is why he waived his no-trade club from the Chicago White Sox, where he would have received more at-bats as a DH to increase his chances of getting to 600 homers.
"To come off the bench and get a big hit late in the game or in the middle of the game, it's a once-in-a-lifetime situation," Thome said of his decision to join the Dodgers. "I would never have been able to live it down if these guys celebrate in October and I couldn't."