History of 50 Home Runs

Now that Pete Alonso has joined what used to be the very exclusive 50 home run club, let’s take a look at the history of that club, and how the steroid era ruined it.

Here is the chronological list of the 46 50 or more home run seasons (achieved by 30 players):

POST-DEAD BALL ERA (1919-1989)
1920 Babe Ruth 54
1921 Babe Ruth 59
1927 Babe Ruth 60
1928 Babe Ruth 54
1930 Hack Wilson 56
1932 Jimmie Foxx 58
1938 Jimmie Foxx 50
1938 Hank Greenberg 58
1947 Johnny Mize 51
1947 Ralph Kiner 51
1949 Ralph Kiner 54
1955 Willie Mays 51
1956 Mickey Mantle 52
1961 Mickey Mantle 54
1961 Roger Maris 61
1965 Willie Mays 52
1977 George Foster 52

STEROID ERA (1990-2003)
1990 Cecil Fielder 51
1995 Albert Belle 50
1996 Brady Anderson 50
1996 Mark McGwire 52
1997 Ken Griffey Jr. 56
1997 Mark McGwire 58
1998 Greg Vaughn 50
1998 Ken Griffey Jr. 56
1998 Sammy Sosa 66
1998 Mark McGwire 70
1999 Sammy Sosa 63
1999 Mark McGwire 65
2000 Sammy Sosa 50
2001 Alex Rodriguez 52
2001 Luis Gonzalez 57
2001 Sammy Sosa 64
2001 Barry Bonds 73
2002 Jim Thome 52
2002 Alex Rodriguez 57

POST-DRUG TESTING (2004-CURRENT)
2005 Andruw Jones 51
2006 Ryan Howard 58
2006 David Ortiz 54
2007 Alex Rodriguez 54
2007 Prince Fielder 50
2010 José Bautista 54
2013 Chris Davis 53
2017 Giancarlo Stanton 59
2017 Aaron Judge 52
2019 Pete Alonso 50

So in the first 70 years after the dead ball era ended, there were a total of 17 50 or more home run seasons. Then in the 13 or so years of the steroid era, there were 19 such seasons. Now, not every slugger of the era was a suspected or proven PED users. The alleged steroid cheats are in red (seven players, who accomplished the feat a total of 15 times).

But this bears repeating — in 70 years there were 17 and in 13 years there were 19. This is how PED users really messed up MLB records.

In the 15 seasons since drug testing started. there have been 10 50 or more home run seasons.  The rate is still higher than in the post-dead ball era, but now we have more players, more games and smaller ballparks that contribute to more home runs (among many other factors). But it looks like things are beginning to return to normal.

Still, though, if the steroid era never happened, this would be a much smaller, much more exclusive club.

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