The Los Angeles Dodgers have a long and storied history. While some of the first thoughts people have are likely about the pitchers who have donned the team’s colors, the hitters have provided a number of powerful seasons along the way. There have been 14 different instances of a Dodgers hitter slugging at least 40 home runs in a season, but nobody has reached the 50-homer plateau yet. Also, the franchise’s single-season home run record has changed hands very few times since 1951. Let’s see who’s among the Dodgers home run leaders for a single season.
We’ll first dive into the details on the top five before listing out the remainder of the top 24.
Dodgers Home Run Leaders: Top 5
Shawn Green: 49 Home Runs in 2001
(There aren’t any 2001 homers on YouTube from Shawn Green, so this will have to do.)
Shawn Green posted three seasons of 40-plus homers during his career, and they all came within a four-year span. His last two 40-homer efforts came for the Dodgers, with this 49-homer output not only being a franchise record but also a career-high mark. The outfielder finished sixth in NL MVP voting while slashing .297/.372/.598 with those 49 bombs, 125 RBI (also a career-high), and 121 runs scored. He added 20 stolen bases to this performance, which was the fourth and final time he did that as a big leaguer.
Like many of these record-breaking seasons, there were a couple of scenarios where Green raked the most. He hit 22 of his 49 dingers between July and August, and 30 of them came as a visiting player. His encore in 2002 was also great, as he slugged another 42 for LA. And, of course, he hit 4 home runs in a game against the Brewers in May of that season.
Adrián Beltré: 48 Home Runs in 2004
Adrián Beltré had 12 different seasons of 20-plus homers during his 21-year MLB career, with five of those going for 30-plus dingers. However, the 48 he hit for Los Angeles as a 25-year-old was a number he never surpassed. In fact, the only time he got close was in 2012 when he finished with 36 home runs.
Leading up to this monstrous 2004 campaign, Beltré had already enjoyed three seasons with at least 20 homers, but his average per year was 16 and he hadn’t hit more than 23 in a single season. This will help put his power surge in perspective: from 2002-03, he slugged 44 homers with 155 RBI in 1,243 plate appearances. In 2004, he hit those 48 homers with 121 RBI in just 657 plate appearances. Phew.
Similar to Green, 23 of Beltré’s 48 homers came in July and August, but when we look at his first half/second half and home/road splits, they’re pretty even. Where he did skew to one side was his platoon splits. The third baseman slashed .347/.390/.672 with 42 homers and 104 RBI against righties. Those numbers dropped to .291/.381/.478, six, and 17, respectively, against lefties. He had 330 more plate appearances against righties than lefties, but still, it’s interesting to see the right-handed hitter perform head-and-shoulders better when the matchup didn’t favor him (historically speaking).
Cody Bellinger: 47 Home Runs in 2019
Cody Bellinger is looking to bounce back in 2022, but it’s hard to start one’s career better than he did between 2017 and 2019. During that span of time, he accumulated three straight years of 25-plus home runs, 15.3 total fWAR, the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year award, and the 2019 NL MVP award. And, until Pete Alonso came along, Belli also owned the NL rookie home run record.
The outfielder did a little bit of everything for the Dodgers during his MVP campaign. He won a Silver Slugger for his efforts at the plate, which also included a .305/.406/.629 line, 34 doubles, 115 RBI, 121 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases. Not to be outdone, he also won his first (and for now, only) Gold Glove for his defense.
Bellinger was consistently elite on offense throughout the year. The only time he posted a monthly OPS below .900 in 2019 came in September, and it was still .891. However, what really set him off was what he did in April. In 132 plate appearances, he slashed an insane .431/.508/.890 (!) with 21 extra-base hits (14 homers, six doubles, one triple), 37 RBI, and 32 runs scored, which was all good for a 247 wRC+.
Duke Snider: 43 Home Runs in 1956
As we’ll see toward the bottom of this article, Duke Snider was the premier power threat for the Brooklyn Dodgers, with he and Gil Hodges forming quite the powerful duo. This 43-homer effort was Snider’s fourth (!) straight year of eclipsing 40. He’d do it again the following year to make it five consecutive seasons. What he did in 1956 was his single-season career-high mark, though, because every other 40-homer season he recorded either ended with 40 on the dot (twice) or 42 (twice).
When looking at Snider’s season splits, two things jump out, and they both make me shake my head in disbelief. One is that the left-handed hitter racked up just 69 plate appearances against southpaws and hit exactly one homer in that situation. The other is he played just 10 games in April and hit no home runs while slashing .162/.244/.189.
While it wasn’t his best month by way of OPS, his best overall performance came in August when he hit .327/.405/.738 with 12 homers, 30 RBI, and 28 runs scored. Those counting stats were all the most he produced in a single month that season.
Gary Sheffield: 43 Home Runs in 2000
Gary Sheffield spent just three-and-a-half years with the Dodgers, but my goodness did he make that short period of time count at the plate. He posted a cumulative OPS of .998 during his tenure in Los Angeles, which included 129 home runs (his most with any team he played for), and 367 RBI (his second-most with any team). In the three full years he suited up for LA, Sheffield never finished with fewer than 30 homers and 100 RBI.
Obviously, his 2000 performance was the most powerful of the bunch. He slashed .325/.408/.643 with those 43 homers, 109 RBI, and 105 runs scored while getting selected to the All-Star Game and finishing ninth in NL MVP voting. He only appeared in 141 games, so who knows where he would’ve finished on this list had he played in another 10 or 15.
Sheffield was equally as dominant in the first half (1.093 OPS) as he was in the second half (1.063 OPS), but there were two specific months that were the most incredible. One was April when he slashed .349/.460/.795 with 10 homers and 22 RBI. The other was June when he slashed .384/.472/.798 with 12 homers and 30 RBI.
Dodgers Home Run Leaders: The Rest
Here’s what the rest of the Dodgers’ top-24 most powerful seasons in franchise history looks like right now:
- Duke Snider, 1953 and 1955: 42 home runs
- Gil Hodges, 1954: 42
- Shawn Green, 2002: 42
- Roy Campanella, 1953: 41
- Mike Piazza, 1997: 40
- Duke Snider, 1954 and 1957: 40
- Matt Kemp, 2011: 39
- Cody Bellinger, 2017: 39
- Mike Piazza, 1996: 36
- Max Muncy, 2021: 36
- Gary Sheffield, 2001: 36
- Joc Pederson, 2019: 36
- Babe Herman, 1930: 35
- Mike Piazza, 1993: 35
- Mookie Betts, 2022: 35
- Max Muncy, 2019: 35
Interested in seeing which single-season Dodgers performances have come up short? Check out the full list on FanGraphs.