The White Sox’s DH Jim Thome hit homeruns number 560 & 561 Wednesday night in a 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I still can’t get over this name…). Five hundred homeruns used to be the benchmark for homerun hitters to make it to the Hall of Fame, until the ‘juiced bunch’ passed the 500 HR mark like a fat kid passes over Diet Coke…easy. Thome may not make it as a Hall of Famer because he rarely played a position (a first baseman by trade, but plays it like Big Papi, David Ortiz…not well), despite his offensive numbers being comparable to some of the greats in the game.
So, let’s list the greatest homerun hitters of all-time:
1. Barry Bonds, 762 (dirty)
2. Hank Aaron, 755 (clean)
3. Babe Ruth, 714 (clean)
4. Willie Mays, 660 (clean)
5. Ken Griffey, Jr., 622 (active; clean)
6. Sammy Sosa, 609 (dirty)
7. Frank Robinson, 586 (clean)
8. Mark McGwire, 583 (dirty, but remember…he did it before it became illegal…)
9. Harmon Killebrew, 573 (clean)
10. Alex Rodriguez, 572 (active; dirty)
11. Rafael Palmeiro, 569 (dirty)
12. Reggie Jackson, 563 (clean)
13. Jim Thome, 561 (active; clean)
14. Mike Schmidt, 548 (clean…rest in peace, Harry Kalas. Loved hearing you say the name Michael Jack Schmidt)
15. Manny Ramirez, 539 (active; dirty)
**Note: Roger Clemens did NOT make the list, as he’s not a homerun hitter….
With Griffey not playing as often, Thome has a chance to catch or even surpass him. Would that make him the best ‘clean’ homerun hitter of our generation?
There are more active clean hitters, like Chipper Jones (arguably the third best switch-hitting HR threat, behind Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray), Vladimir Guerrero (gets hurt more often than most would like, but he’s never been shut down due to drugs, and he is still one of the most feared hitters in the league), and a man whose picture graces the top of the article, Albert Pujols, whom some are saying he could be the most complete hitter the game has ever seen.
Pujols’ 36 homers this year put him at 355 for his career, tied for 73rd all-time with Greg Vaughn. Considering he’s only 29 years old, it’s likely Pujols has a solid eight years of playing still left in him, possibly more. If he averages 45 homers per year for those eight years, which is a doable number for him, that would put him at 715, one more than Babe Ruth. If he does 50 per year, that’s an even 755, tied with Hank Aaron. At a clip of 51 per year, he would have 763, one more than Barry Bonds. Playing first base likely helps Pujols, as he doesn’t wear himself out playing that position. If Pujols lasts ten years, to pass Barry Bonds, he would need to average 41 homers per year.
So, who’s the best? Griffey (still the sweetest swing of the bunch), Thome (maybe the most unlikely top 15 homerun hitter of all-time, if you remember what he looked like when he came up with the Indians), or Pujols?