We’ve already spilled plenty of digital ink over each team’s career home run leaders, but what about the single season home run record for every MLB team? Well, that’s what we’re here for.
There’s a good chance most of our single-season home run leaderboard ends up finding its way onto this list, but we wanted to bring the single-season home run records by team to life with a little commentary, and as always, with any available video we can find.
If you’re interested in seeing who else makes up each franchise’s single-season list, check out our MLB home run leaderboards for every team.
Single Season Home Run Record for All 30 MLB Teams
Enough of the build-up, right? In alphabetical order below, you’ll find out who currently owns the single season home run record for each club. Not surprisingly, the majority of these occurrences have happened since the turn of the century. However, there are a couple of records that have been standing for quite some time. Scroll down and find out.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Luis Gonzalez, 57 in 2001
Due to when it happened in the course of MLB history, Luis Gonzalez’s career arc will likely always make a few people raise their respective eyebrows. Or, he could just be one of those players who blossomed later than expected.
Through the 1997 season — Gonzalez’s age-29 campaign — the left-handed slugger had never hit more than 15 home runs in a single year. But after hitting a then-career-high 23 dingers in 1998, he finished with fewer than 15 homers in a year just once between then and 2008 (he hit eight in 2008 as a 40-year-old for the Florida Marlins).
His 1999-01 performance with the Arizona Diamondbacks was unequivocally the peak of Gonzo’s career — he slashed .324/.408/.593 through 2,143 plate appearances, averaging 38 homers and 122 RBI over those three seasons. The seasons surrounding Gonzo’s 57-homer barrage were also his second- and third-highest single-season homer totals, but the totals pale in comparison when put next to one another: 31, 57, 28.
Take a gander at the Diamondbacks’ single-season home run leaderboard, too.
Atlanta Braves: Andruw Jones, 51 in 2005
Although Andruw Jones is best known for his ridiculous outfield defense — as his 10 Gold Glove awards would suggest — the dude could slug the baseball, too. He won his only Silver Slugger award in 2005, and it was made possible by leading the league in both homers (51) and RBI (128) for the Atlanta Braves.
This particular year was as close as he’d get to winning an MVP award, placing second behind Albert Pujols in the Senior Circuit. Jones finished just 27 total points behind Pujols, grabbing 13 out of 32 first-place votes.
Jones began the most powerful two-year span of his career in 2005. After slugging those 51 taters, he followed that up with another 41 in 2006. That helped him drive in 129 runs, as well. The outfielder’s 7.9 fWAR in 2005 ended up being the eighth time he registered at least 5.0 fWAR in a season over a nine-year span.
Find out who falls behind him on the Braves’ single-season home run leaderboard, too.
Baltimore Orioles: Chris Davis, 53 in 2013
Before Chris Davis’ production fell off the face of the Earth, he was one of baseball’s premier power hitters, and the 2013 campaign was a true breakout with the Baltimore Orioles as he set the team’s single-season home run record. It could be argued that 2012 was his breakout since it included a .270/.326/.501 slash with 33 homers and 85 RBI. However, it doesn’t compare to what he did the following year.
You know, like posting a 1.004 OPS while leading baseball in homers (53), RBI (138), and total bases (370). His 37 dingers prior to the All-Star break are among the most in MLB history. He did end up leading baseball in homers again in 2015 with 47 more bombs, but his ‘13 performance — which included a 168 wRC+ and 7.1 fWAR — was his best.
The downward trend his wRC+ has been on since 2015 is also rather depressing: 149, 113, 91, 46, 60, -12.
Check out the Orioles’ team single-season leaderboard right here.
Boston Red Sox: David Ortiz, 54 in 2006
Hall of Famer David Ortiz helped end a lot of longstanding droughts during his legendary Boston Red Sox tenure. First, it was the World Series drought by helping the club win its first title since 1918 in 2004. A couple of years later, he set the franchise’s single season home run record. Ortiz took this honor from Jimmie Foxx, who had hit 50 for the Red Sox all the way back in 1938.
During Big Papi’s 20-year MLB career, he hit 30-plus homers in a season 10 different times. He surpassed that benchmark in each of his final four big-league seasons, but his true peak happened between 2004 and 2007. He finished within the top four of AL MVP voting four straight times, led the league in homers once, led the league in RBI twice, and hit 40-plus homers three times. During the 3,244 plate appearances he accumulated, he slashed .302/.402/.612 and averaged 42 homers with 128 RBI.
It helped that this span of time was bookended by a couple of World Series titles, too. Be sure to check out the single-season leaderboard for the Red Sox, too.
Chicago White Sox: Albert Belle, 49 in 1998
Albert Belle was a legitimate monster at the plate, and it’s a shame that a degenerative hip issue forced him to retire in 2000 following his age-33 campaign. Before that happened, though, he made sure his presence was felt as much as possible. He played his first full season for Cleveland in 1991, which started a streak of hitting 20-plus homers each year for the remainder of his career (10 seasons).
Eight of those occasions included at least 30 dingers, with his most coming in 1995 when he hit a league-leading 50 homers. Between 1995 and 1998, Belle hit at least 48 homers in a single season three times, with the last one coming for the Chicago White Sox. He also registered a career-high 152 RBI that year while slashing .328/.399/.625 in 706 plate appearances.
What Belle did after the All-Star break is what will truly make your jaw drop. In just 328 plate appearances, the slugger blasted 31 homers with 86 RBI, doing it all with a 1.267 OPS. His most powerful month of the year was July when he hit 16 dingers while slashing .406/.455/.941 (!) in 110 plate appearances.
Head this way if you’d like to see how the rest of the single-season home run leaderboard shakes out right now for the White Sox.
Chicago Cubs: Sammy Sosa, 66 in 1998
In the two years leading up to Sammy Sosa‘s historic season for the Chicago Cubs, he hit a combined 76 home runs. That’s really good, but nearly matching that in just over half the number of plate appearances is enough to make anyone’s jaw drop.
When looking a Sosa’s monthly splits, his 1998 season was off to a great start, but not necessarily in a way that you’d think he’d finish with one of the most powerful seasons in MLB history. He was comfortably hitting above .340 by the end of May with 13 homers and 39 RBI. But in the month of June, he went absolutely berzerk. Sosa slugged 20 home runs with 40 RBI. Yes, seriously. He had 34 hits the entire month, and the only other extra-base hits he collected included two doubles. Heck, the man slugged .842…for the month!
That obviously got his ticket to the great home run chase of 1998 emphatically punched. Although he didn’t catch Mark McGwire, he gave him a run for his money down the stretch. In August and September, Sosa combined to hit 24 home runs.
Check out the Cubs’ full single-season leaderboard to see how much Sosa dominated during his time on the North Side.
Cincinnati Reds: George Foster, 52 in 1977
George Foster enjoyed three performances of 30-plus homers during his 18-year MLB career, and they occurred in consecutive years. He kicked things off with this 52-homer barrage in 1977 for the Cincinnati Reds, which won him NL MVP honors a year after he finished second in the voting.
After falling short by 90 points to teammate Joe Morgan in ‘76, Foster took matters into his own hands. His 1976 campaign was a great one — he hit 29 homers and led the league with 121 RBI off the strength of a .306/.364/.530 line, but the following year was off the chain. He led baseball in homers (52), RBI (149), and runs scored (124) while slashing .320/.382/.631. He followed that performance up with another stellar one in 1978 — his 40 homers and 120 RBI both led the league, again.
What’s crazy is he started his season by hitting just three homers in his first 19 games during the month of April. He never finished a month with fewer than eight bombs the rest of the way, with July and August (12 homers each) being his most powerful.
If you’re looking for the rest of the Reds’ single-season leaderboard, we’ve got you covered.
Cleveland Guardians: Jim Thome, 52 in 2002
During Jim Thome’s Hall of Fame career, there was one thing he was always good at, and it was hitting dingers. That’ll happen when you finish your MLB career with 612 of those bad boys. In his 22 years of big-league play, Thome enjoyed 40-plus homers in a single season on six occasions. And while the 52 he hit in 2002 were a single-season career-high mark and a single-season home run record for the Cleveland Guardians, it didn’t count as the one time he led baseball in homers. That happened in his first year with the Philadelphia Phillies when he hit 47 dingers in 2003.
Talk about ending his tenure in Cleveland with a bang, though. He hit 101 combined homers during his last two years with the organization, and that jump-started a four-year span in which Thome never hit fewer than 42 dingers in a year. During this time, he averaged 48 homers and 120 RBI.
Crazily enough, while he finished within the top-20 of MVP voting for each of these four seasons (including three top-seven finishes), Thome was selected to just one All-Star Game, which was in 2004.
Be sure to check out the rest of the Guardians’ single-season home run leaderboard, too.
Colorado Rockies: Larry Walker, 49 in 1997 and Todd Helton, 49 in 2001
Larry Walker put together a ridiculous .366/.452/.720 line in 1997, which included those 49 homers, 46 doubles, 130 RBI, and 143 runs scored. This led to an equally ridiculous 177 wRC+ and a 9.1 fWAR. And, because we’re always wondering, Walker actually had a higher slugging percentage (.733) on the road than he did at home (.709), with 29 of his 49 homers coming as a visiting player.
We’ve already talked about how the beginning of Todd Helton’s career was the powerful portion while with the Colorado Rockies. Still, the kind of production he put together between 2000 and 2001 is insane when looking back on it all. In both years, he produced at least a 1.100 OPS, 40 homers, 140 RBI, 50 doubles, and 130 runs scored. And, because we’re always wondering (still), Helton’s slugging percentage at home (.774) was much higher than it was on the road (.593). However, his homer totals were much closer to being even. The long-time first baseman hit 27 dingers at Coors Field and 22 away from Denver in 2001.
See who else falls behind these two sluggers by checking out the Rockies’ single-season home run leaderboard.
Detroit Tigers: Hank Greenberg, 58 in 1938
Who knows what else Hank Greenberg could’ve done on the baseball field if he didn’t leave to serve his country in World War II from 1942-44 (his age-31, 32, and 33 seasons), as well as shortened campaigns in 1941 and 1945. What he did during the time he actually got to spend on the field was pretty special, though.
Between 1937 and 1940, Greenberg produced at least 7.0 fWAR in a season on three occasions. The one time he didn’t reach that number was 1939 when he posted 5.9 fWAR with 33 homers and 112 RBI. Not too shabby, I’d say. In addition to leading baseball with those 58 dingers in 1938, he also led the league in walks drawn (119) and runs scored (143), all while slashing .315/.438/.683. Consistency was the name of his game in this particular season. Greenberg knocked in at least 25 runs in each of the final four months, and he also hit at least 10 dingers in three of the season’s six months (10 in June, 15 in July, 12 in September).
Check out the Tigers’ single-season home run leaderboard here.
Houston Astros: Jeff Bagwell, 47 in 2000
Jeff Bagwell’s 47 homers in 2000 are not only a Houston Astros single season home run record, but it’s also the most dingers he’s ever hit in a season. Astonishingly enough, Bagwell never led the league in homers for a single season, despite clobbering more than 40 three different times.
What he did in 2000 was the final 40-plus homer campaign of his Hall of Fame career, and it was the third time he reached that particular plateau in four seasons. Between 1997 and 2000, the first baseman slashed .301/.432/.589 while averaging 42 homers, 126 RBI, and 132 runs scored. He was selected to two All-Star Games and took home two Silver Slugger awards during this time, but couldn’t secure that coveted NL MVP award. He did finish in the top 10 three different times, with a seventh-place finish happening in 2000.
Bagwell hit 38 of his 47 homers and 30 of his 37 doubles against right-handed pitchers during this particular year, boasting a 1.005 OPS in 578 plate appearances. Check out the Astros’ full single-season leaderboard here.
Kansas City Royals: Jorge Soler, 48 in 2019 and Salvador Perez, 48 in 2021
The Kansas City Royals were the final MLB team to have a player surpass the 40-homer mark, and Jorge Soler made it worth everyone’s time by capturing the AL Home Run title in 2019. What’s most interesting here is the years leading up to Soler’s impressive performance.
Through five seasons with the Chicago Cubs and Royals, Soler slugged 38 homers in 1,132 plate appearances. The 48 bombs he secured in 2019? He did that in just about half the number of plate appearances (679). During those five seasons, his overall performance was worth 1.8 fWAR. In 2019, it was exactly double that with a 3.6 mark. This offensive display earned Soler down-ballot MVP votes (he finished 21st), but he also hasn’t been nearly as good in the two seasons since he re-wrote KC’s record books (his World Series MVP performance notwithstanding).
Although Soler’s OPS looked drastically different in wins (1.283) and losses (.705), his homer output wasn’t all that skewed. It still happened more often when the Royals came out on top, but it was nearly even (27 homers in wins, 21 in losses).
Just two years later, Salvador Perez joined Soler as the single season home run record holder after hitting 48 of his own. It’s funny how baseball works sometimes.
Perez now has five seasons of 20-plus homers to his name, but when looking at his last two full seasons of play, he was stuck on a couple of specific numbers in the power department. In both 2017 and 2018, the veteran backstop hit 27 home runs with 80 RBI – both career highs. He was finally able to blow past those previous high-water marks with 48 dingers and 121 RBI. His 127 wRC+ is also a career-high for a full season (not counting the 162 mark from 2020), and his 3.4 fWAR is the most he’s posted since he put up 3.5 in 2013 as a 23-year-old.
As with many of the players highlighted here, he was having a solid season before turning on the jets for the final two months, where he essentially fit a season’s worth of counting stats into August and September. During his final 243 trips to the plate, Salvy slugged 22 homers with 55 RBI and 39 runs scored off the strength of a .264/.333/.597 line, which led to a 144 wRC+. To put that in perspective, those 22 homers he hit in two months were more than or equal to his season-long totals from seven of his first 10 big-league seasons.
Los Angeles Angels: Troy Glaus, 47 in 2000
From the looks of his 13-year MLB career, all Troy Glaus had to do to rack up a high number of homers was play a full season. As long as he was healthy, he was jacking dingers pretty consistently. If he played 130-plus games, you could pencil in this sweet-swinging right-handed hitter for at least 20 homers. That’s a benchmark he passed eight times.
The 2000 season was just his second full year in the big leagues, and man, he made it count. He was invited to the first of four All-Star Games and won his first of two Silver Sluggers off the strength of a .284/.404/.604 line with a league-leading 47 homers, as well as 102 RBI and 120 runs scored. He surpassed 5.0 fWAR just twice in his career, and he did it in back-to-back seasons (8.2 in 2000, 5.3 in 2001).
Check out the Angels’ full single-season leaderboard here.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Shawn Green, 49 in 2001
You know, I was aware that Shawn Green was a good power hitter throughout his 15-year big-league career. What flew under the radar for me all these years later is the amount of speed he had on the bases. Green swiped 162 bags throughout his career, and the majority of them came during a five-year period between 1997 and 2001. He had four straight 20/20 seasons during this time, with the first occurrence in 1997 being a 30/30 season.
His 2001 campaign ended up being his best overall performance, evidenced by career-high marks in both fWAR (6.7) and wRC+ (149). Through 701 plate appearances with LA, he slashed .297/.372/.598 with those 49 homers, 125 RBI, 121 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases. Experiencing a 30-100-100 season was something Green was used to, as well. He accomplished that feat on four occasions, with three of them including 40-plus homers. They also all occurred over a five-year span from 1998-02.
Speaking of doing things in bunches, don’t forget to watch the memorable performance he put together the following year when he hit 4 home runs in a game and who falls behind him on the Dodgers’ single-season home run leaderboard.
Miami Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton, 59 in 2017
“If Giancarlo Stanton could just stay healthy for a full year, who knows how many homers he’d hit.”
That seemed like a statement we said at the beginning of every year, and often leading up to 2017, we were disappointed because Stanton ended up getting hurt and needed to spend time on the injured list. Between 2010 and 2016, Stanton played 150-plus games just once, which happened in 2011 when he played 150 on the dot as a 21-year-old, leading to 34 homers and 87 RBI. That’s impressive, but when he hit 37 in 123 games played the following year, the wonder started to creep into the minds of many.
The 2017 campaign was the year it all finally came together. Stanton appeared in 159 games during his NL MVP performance, leading the league in home runs (59), RBI (132), and slugging percentage (.631). The months of July and August were the most impressive from the perspective of power output since 30 of his 59 dingers came during that two-month period.
And, despite being a cavernous park that obviously favors pitchers, Stanton hit 31 homers while posting a .673 slugging percentage and a 182 wRC+ at home in South Beach. He did all this to produce one of the most powerful seasons in MLB history. Also, be sure to check out the Marlins‘ single-season home run leaderboard.
Milwaukee Brewers: Prince Fielder, 50 in 2007
When you reach the 50-homer plateau as a 23-year-old, it’s fair to assume that the sky’s the limit for the immediate future. And, for a while, Prince Fielder made good on that promise. After this performance, he followed it up with five straight seasons of 30-plus homers before the streak ended in 2013 with 25 homers for the Detroit Tigers in 2013.
If Fielder was able to elevate a baseball in 2007, there was a good chance he was going to do some damage. He posted a 44.0% hard-hit rate on fly balls and put together a 267 wRC+ off the strength of a 1.486 OPS and .771 ISO for that batted-ball event. Of the 50 homers he hit, 48 of them came via fly ball (which is probably pretty obvious, but it’s still interesting).
While hitting in Milwaukee has long been seen as a hitter’s paradise, Fielder was just as good at home as he was on the road. In front of the home fans, he posted a 173 wRC+ and .366 ISO with 27 homers. As a visiting player, those numbers were 133, .296, and 23, respectively.
Did you know he also hit an inside the park home run in 2007? It was his first of two career inside-the-parkers, and they’re both glorious. Fielder also owns a couple of spots on the Brewers‘ single-season home run leaderboard.
Minnesota Twins: Harmon Killebrew, 49 in 1969 and 1964
Not only did Harmon Killebrew reach 49 homers in a single season on two different occasions for the Minnesota Twins, but he’s easily the best home-run hitter this franchise has ever seen. Sure, he’s the career leader for the franchise by a wide margin, but we can see just how dominant he was by looking at the Twins’ single-season home run leaderboard, which is essentially just an ode to Killebrew.
When looking at Minnesota’s single season home run record leaderboard, eight of the top 11 (!) are owned by Killebrew, including the top six (!!). Between 1959 and 1970, he failed to hit 30-plus homers in a season just twice (25 in 1965 and 17 in 1968). Eight times during this span, he surpassed 40 homers, leading the league on six occasions.
It’s probably better to mention the hitters in Twins history who aren’t Killebrew that have hit at least 40 homers in a season. There are only three: Brian Dozier in 2016 and Roy Sievers in 1957 (42 each), as well as Nelson Cruz in 2019 (41).
New York Yankees: Roger Maris, 61 in 1961
Understandably so, there was a lot of pressure and attention on Roger Maris as he closed in on Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a single season. Even in a day and age where there was no 24/7 news cycle or social media constantly talking about it, that kind of pressure can get to anybody. That’s why it’s even more impressive that Maris’ performance from the first half to the second half stayed largely the same.
Prior to the All-Star break, he hit .282/.388/.648 with 33 home runs and 80 RBI in 361 plate appearances. Maris’ averages took a little dive in his 337 plate appearances following the midsummer classic (.256/.356/.592), but it was enough as he slugged another 28 dingers to barely eclipse Ruth. He hit at least 10 homers in each of the last five months of the season, but June and July were his two most powerful months of all. He combined to hit 28 homers and slug over .700 during that time.
This was the only time Maris hit more than 39 homers in a season, but all it takes is one legendary performance to be remembered forever. Be sure to also check out the Yankees‘ full single-season home run leaderboard.
New York Mets: Pete Alonso, 53 in 2019
Pete Alonso broke all kinds of home run records during his NL Rookie of the Year campaign in 2019. He blew past Darryl Strawberry’s franchise rookie record of 26 before the calendar flipped to July and broke the franchise’s regular-season record before September, allowing him to then break Aaron Judge’s MLB rookie record of 52 before the book closed on Game 162.
Alonso’s first half was a huge reason why he was in a position to do what he did throughout his first year in the big leagues. Before he went to Cleveland to appear in the All-Star Game and win the Home Run Derby, he slugged 30 homers while posting a 1.006 OPS, .354 ISO, and 159 wRC+. He cooled off following the midsummer classic overall, but he turned the power up a notch in September, hitting 11 homers and collecting 22 RBI, his most during any month that season.
Oakland Athletics: Jimmie Foxx, 58 in 1932
Until David Ortiz passed him in 2006, Jimmie Foxx actually owned the single season home run record for two teams. But, if we’re getting technical here, his record with the Athletics will likely continue to stand for quite a while since surpassing 58 is much harder to do than surpassing 50 (the number he hit for the Red Sox in 1938).
Foxx hit 534 homers during his MLB career, and they were concentrated over a very specific span. He hit 30-plus homers for 12 straight years from 1929 to 1940, with five of those occasions being 40-plus dingers.
The slugging infielder won his first of three MVPs with his performance in 1932, where he led baseball in homers (58), RBI (169), slugging percentage (.749), OPS (1.218), OPS+ (207), runs scored (151), and total bases (438). He won the MVP again in 1933, leading baseball in all the same categories, except he swapped out runs scored for batting average (.356) to secure a triple crown for himself.
He sure to also check out the Athletics’ single-season home run leaderboard.
Philadelphia Phillies: Ryan Howard, 58 in 2006
Ryan Howard was simply a beast during the early portion of his career. It didn’t really matter if things were going well or not at the plate — he was always a threat to launch a moonshot. And through the first seven years of his MLB career, that’s exactly what he did at a prodigious rate.
After winning the NL Rookie of the Year in 2005 despite playing in just 88 games (and hitting 22 homers), the 2006 campaign was Howard’s first full regular season in the big leagues. He responded by leading the league with these 58 dingers, as well as taking home the RBI crown (149) and finishing first with 383 total bases. This was the first of four consecutive seasons in which the left-handed slugger finished with at least 40 homers. While he couldn’t get over 40 in 2010 or 2011, he did slug at least 30 in each campaign.
Between 2006 and 2011, Howard’s 262 homers easily led baseball (Albert Pujols was second with 244). His 796 RBI during this time also had him comfortably in first (Pujols once again finished second with 708). Check out the Phillies’ single-season home run leaderboard here.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Ralph Kiner, 54 in 1949
When you only play 10 years in the big leagues and still get inducted into the Hall of Fame, you know you’re a baller. That’s exactly what Ralph Kiner was during his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He led the league in homers the first seven years of his MLB career (1946-52). After hitting 23 dingers as a rookie, he then rattled off seven straight years of 30-plus dingers, and the first five years of this streak were all of the 40-plus variety.
In his record-setting 1949 campaign, Kiner appeared in his second of six All-Star Games and finished fourth in MVP voting, which was the closest he’d get to winning the award. In addition to leading baseball with those 54 taters, he collected the most RBI (127) and walks (117), as well as posting the highest slugging percentage (.658), OPS (1.089), and OPS+ (186).
The last two months of his season were especially powerful, considering that 27 of his 54 total homers came in August and September. The final month of the regular season was impressive all around, as Kiner slashed .330/.481/.870 with 16 homers, 33 RBI, and 31 runs scored in 129 plate appearances.
Check out the Pirates’ full single-season leaderboard here.
San Diego Padres: Greg Vaughn, 50 in 1998
There were only two years in Greg Vaughn’s MLB career where he slugged at least 40 homers while driving in more than 100 runs and scoring 100 more himself…and they happened in consecutive years. The first was in 1998 when he hit the half-century mark with the San Diego Padres.
He did the majority of his work prior to the All-Star break, as he hit 30 of his 50 homers during that time and posted a 1.036 OPS (it was .836 after the midsummer classic). Vaughn’s two-year stretch between 1998 and 1999 was easily the most dominant run of his MLB career. He won one Silver Slugger award and finished fourth in MVP voting twice.
Vaughn was the proud owner .255/.359/.566 triple slash with 95 homers, 237 RBI, and 216 runs scored in 1,304 plate appearances (311 games played). Interested in looking at a full team leaderboard? Check out the Padres version here.
San Francisco Giants: Barry Bonds, 73 in 2001
Sure, the 2001 season was the only time Barry Bonds slugged more than 50 homers in a season, but it’s not like he didn’t do plenty of damage before all the talk about PEDs began dominating every conversation involving him. Before that record-setting season, he did have 30-plus homers in 11 straight seasons. However, the four-season span between 2001 and 2004 produced numbers that are straight out of a video game.
En route to winning four consecutive NL MVP awards, Bonds slashed .349/.559/.809 with 209 homers, 438 RBI, and 486 runs scored. His 232 wRC+ and 47.3 fWAR were easily the best in baseball over that time. The second-best in each category? Albert Pujols in wRC+ (166) and Alex Rodriguez in fWAR (33.6).
In 2001, Bonds actually hit one more homer at home (37) than he did on the road (36), and as one would imagine, he needed to be consistently elite all year. The only month he didn’t hit at least 11 homers was July, when he hit six. It was almost like he could smell the record come September, though — in 117 plate appearances, Bonds slashed .403/.607/1.078 with 16 homers and 25 RBI.
Seattle Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr., 56 in 1997 and 1998
What Harmon Killebrew means to the Twins in the home run department is what Ken Griffey Jr. means to the Seattle Mariners in the same category. There have been 14 occurrences of a Mariners hitter blasting at least 40 homers in a season. Griffey owns six of them, and he holds the top five spots in Seattle history when it comes to the most homers hit in a single season.
As we can see, he hit 56 homers in two consecutive seasons, and I also noticed some other similarities in some of his stats between 1997 and 1998:
Stumbled upon this and thought it was fun…— Matt Musico (@mmusico8) April 27, 2021
Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997: 34 2B, 3 3B, 56 HR, 147 RBI, 76 BBs, 121 Ks
Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998: 33 2B, 3 3B, 56 HR, 146 RBI, 76 BBs, 121 Ks
Baseball, man. #Mariners
Gotta love baseball, right?
The period between 1996 and 2000 was just all Griffey, all the time. He led the league in homers three times, hit at least 40 homers five times, won four Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers, along with taking home one AL MVP award. During this period, which spanned 3,399 plate appearances, Griffey slashed .290/.382/.604 and averaged 50 homers, 137 RBI, and 119 runs scored. Averaged! If we only we could’ve have gotten him playing in October more often, maybe he’d be among the most home runs in a postseason, too. That would’ve been fun.
St. Louis Cardinals: Mark McGwire, 70 in 1998
Hitting 70 home runs in a single season is an amazing feat, but it’s still hard to believe some of the other stats Mark McGwire posted in 1998. He essentially put two great seasons together into one when looking at his first- and second-half splits. The right-handed slugger mashed 37 homers with a .1252 OPS prior to the All-Star break, followed by another 32 dingers and a 1.189 OPS after it.
McGwire obviously raked in virtually every scenario imaginable, but the following two facts just blow my mind. Although he posted an OPS greater than 1.000 against righties and lefties, just check out this stat line against right-handers: .314/.474/.794 with 55 homers and 120 RBI…in 498 plate appearances. There were also two months out of this year (May and September) in which McGwire slugged better than .900. From a counting-state perspective, 31 of his 70 homers came during this time.
Check out more incredible stats about him and others on our all-time home run leaderboard for a single season. If you’re looking for more Cardinals-specific stuff, you can view their single-season leaderboard here.
Tampa Bay Rays: Carlos Peña, 46 in 2007
Carlos Peña spent 14 years in the big leagues and was a productive player over the course of his career, but it was his time with the Tampa Bay Rays that really made his career noteworthy. He spent five seasons with the organization and hit nearly 60% of his career homers for Tampa (163 of 286). He did have two separate stints with the club, and the first one is where most of that damage was done.
Between 2007 and 2010, Pena enjoyed four seasons of 25-plus homers and 80-plus RBI (surpassing the 30-100 plateaus in three consecutive years, as well). What’s freaky about his 2007 performance is he was nearly identical in the power department at home (23 homers, 61 RBI) and on the road (23 homers, 60 RBI). He also saved some of his best work for last by finishing with a flourish. After not hitting more than eight homers in any month, he hit 13 in September and collected his most RBI for a single month that season (29). Naturally, the 1.279 OPS was also his best of any month in 2007.
Take a peek at the Rays‘ full single-season leaderboard, too.
Texas Rangers: Alex Rodriguez, 57 in 2002
Alex Rodriguez only spent three seasons in Texas and we now know they were tainted by his usage of performance-enhancing drugs, but my goodness, he did nothing but produce while he was there. He led the AL in homers for three straight years (never hitting fewer than 47 bombs), took home two Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, one AL MVP award, and appeared in three All-Star games.
He appeared in just 485 games for the franchise, yet his 27.0 fWAR is the 11th-most in Rangers history.
What’s interesting about his performance in 2002 was that it mostly didn’t make a difference whether Texas won or lost. In victories, A-Rod posted a 1.117 OPS with 29 homers and 83 RBI. In losses, he posted a .929 OPS with 28 homers and 59 RBI. The RBI totals are obviously very different, but he couldn’t help his teammates get on base, ya know.
I still can’t get over the 10-year stretch he put together between 1998 and 2007. He slugged 40-plus homers eight times and drove in at least 100 runs in each season, with his ’98 performance gaining him entry into one of the most exclusive home run clubs ever — the 40/40 club. In his 6,959 plate appearances throughout this period, Rodriguez slashed .304/.394/.589, averaging 45 homers, 128 RBI, and 124 runs scored.
Be sure to also get a look at the full single-season leaderboard for the Rangers.
Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Bautista, 54 in 2010
Everyone loves a good breakout story, and there aren’t many better than the one Jose Bautista gave us in 2010. He played parts of six seasons before leading the league in homers that year. In 2,038 plate appearances during that time, he slugged 59 dingers. So, it took about a quarter of the time (683 plate appearances, to be exact) to nearly match that.
This obviously began a stretch where Bautista was one of the game’s premier sluggers, and it continued immediately into 2011 when he led the league again with 43 homers. He went to two All-Star Games, won two Silver Sluggers, and finished in the top five of AL MVP voting twice. His 97 homers just about doubled his homer output from the previous six years combined, and the 227 RBI he collected also surpassed what he did during that time (211 RBI between 2004 and 2009).
He may be best known for his postseason bat flip during the 2015 playoffs, but without bursting onto the scene back in 2010, nothing else would’ve been possible for Joey Bats. This campaign also included an inside the park home run. Head over and see who is also on the Blue Jays‘ single-season home run leaderboard.
Washington Nationals: Alfonso Soriano, 46 in 2006
The 2006 season was the only one Alfonso Soriano spent with the Nationals, but he made it worthwhile. This year immediately stands out on the back of his baseball card because it’s the only one in which he surpassed the 40-homer mark, but there’s more than that. By adding 41 stolen bases, Soriano became the fourth member of the 40 home run/40 stolen base club. And just because that wasn’t enough, he also threw in 41 doubles for good measure.
For right now, he’s still the most recent member. There have been some close calls along the way, but he holds those honors for the time being.
While he did the majority of the work on his home run total in the first half (27 before the All-Star break, 19 after it), he split his stolen-base production almost down the middle by swiping 21 in the first half and 20 in the second half. This particular campaign was the last time Soriano would surpass the 30-30 mark in a single season, but he did also accomplish that feat three times before doing it in the nation’s capital.
Check out the Nationals’ full single-season leaderboard here.
Each MLB Team’s Single-Season Home Run Record: Who’s Next?
Home runs are more common in today’s game than ever before in baseball history. But still, watching a player slug 50-plus homers in a season is a rare occurrence. Based on the seasons they just had in 2021, it certainly feels like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Shohei Ohtani are candidates for making it happen at some point.