When it comes to home runs, many people want to know the same thing: who has hit the most home runs in history?
It’s a valid question that we’ve been slicing and dicing in many ways here at MLB Daily Dingers. In addition to discussing the most home runs all time, we’ve also taken a look at the all-time home run leaders for each MLB team. It hasn’t stopped there either, as we’re continuing to build out each club’s career home run leaderboard (you can check out the progress we’ve made so far here).
There are so many more career home run lists for us to discuss in the future, and we’re excited about it. But for the purposes of today, the focus will be on the all-time home run king at each position on the diamond. The below list only includes the number of home runs a player has slugged while playing that specific position.
Most Home Runs in History At Each Position
Catcher: Mike Piazza, 396 Home Runs
Mike Piazza is a Hall of Famer and has been enshrined in Cooperstown while wearing a New York Mets hat. He accomplished a lot during his time in Queens, which included consecutive playoff appearances, a National League pennant, and nearly setting a new single-season home run record for the Mets, as well as hitting an emotional home run in the first game back after the September 11th terrorist attacks.
He also passed Carlton Fisk to become the all-time home run king for catchers in 2004, which happened as a member of the Amazins. The majority of his career came in New York, but he nearly spent the same amount of time with the Los Angeles Dodgers. You don’t land on the franchise’s career home run leaderboard without making noise during your tenure there. He enjoyed total 12 seasons of 20-plus homers, with six coming with the Mets and another five happening in L.A. Piazza’s time with the Dodgers was pretty incredible, too.
Over the course of 3,017 plate appearances, he slashed .331/.394/.572 with 177 homers and 563 RBI. This performance included four efforts of at least 30 homers, a Rookie of the Year award, five All-Star appearances, five Silver Sluggers, and five consecutive top-10 finishes in NL MVP voting.
Pitcher: Wes Ferrell, 37 Home Runs
If you’re wondering why there are no videos of Wes Ferrell hitting home runs as a pitcher, it’s because his MLB career spanned from 1927 to 1941. His final triple-slash looks nothing like we’d ever expect from a pitcher today if they were still able to step into the batter’s box, too.
He accumulated 1,345 plate appearances during his career and compiled a very nice .280/.351/.446 line. Ferrell hit at least five homers in a season four times while also collecting at least 20 RBI on five different occasions. The breakout came early in his career during the 1931 season. Over parts of his first four seasons, Ferrell had slugged just one home run. By the time this year was through, he was in double digits. The hurler hit nine homers with 30 RBI while slashing .319/.373/.621 in the process.
First Base: Mark McGwire, 566 Home Runs
We’ve spilled plenty of digital ink about Mark McGwire throughout this site, but there’s always a little room for some more. Big Mac’s MLB tenure lasted 16 years. He appeared in at least 80 games all but three times, and as long as he played that often, McGwire never hit fewer than 20 homers in a season. In fact, the only time he hit fewer than 29 dingers in a year when using these parameters came in 1991 when he hit 22 in 154 games. He came back the following season to hit 42 in 139 games to make up for it.
One of my favorite things about McGwire’s career is that he spread his homer production quite evenly in a couple of different areas. He hit 285 home runs with a .591 slugging percentage at home and 298 home runs with a .586 slugging percentage on the road. The same could be said for his production in the first half (331 homers, .598 slugging percentage) and the second half (252 homers, .575 slugging percentage).
Second Base: Jeff Kent, 351 Home Runs
Jeff Kent was one of the measures of consistency as far as second basemen with power go. He played in the majors for 17 years and never hit fewer than 11 homers in a single season. That number happened in his rookie season, which was split between the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets, and then Kent proceeded to enjoy 12 different seasons of 20-plus homers.
He hit a career-high 37 homers in 2002, but his best overall season from the standpoint of offense came in 2000 when he took home NL MVP honors for the San Francisco Giants. In 695 plate appearances, Kent slashed .334/.424/.596 with 33 homers, 125 RBI, and 114 runs scored. The majority of Kent’s damage during this performance came in the first half, as he entered the All-Star break with 23 homers and 85 RBI to go along with a 1.109 OPS.
In the first three months of the season, he never hit fewer than five homers, but in the final three months, he’s reached five dingers just once. June was his most eye-popping stretch of time, as the second baseman slashed .424/.508/.808 with eight homers, 12 doubles, 34 RBI, and 20 runs scored in just 124 plate appearances.
Shortstop: Cal Ripken Jr., 345 Home Runs
Cal Ripken Jr. is the Baltimore Orioles‘ all-time home run leader, and the man who revolutionized shortstop is at the top of this position-specific home run leaderboard. Just by the hair on his chin, though — Alex Rodriguez comes in a close second with 344 dingers.
We’ve talked in previous posts about how Ripken ripped off 10-straight seasons of 20-plus homers from 1982 to 1991, but there’s a clear divide regarding his production within this streak. From 1982-87, he never hit fewer than 25 dingers in a single season and averaged 27 homers with 95 RBI and a .829 OPS during that time. His average homers (25), RBI (93), and OPS (.806) between 1988 and 1991 aren’t drastically different, but that’s because his ’91 campaign included career-high marks with 34 home runs and 114 RBI. Outside of that, he didn’t hit more than 23 homers or collect more than 93 RBI.
But hey, we’re splitting hairs here, people. Being the all-time home run leader at any position on the baseball diamond takes a lot of endurance. And for MLB’s Iron Man, endurance and consistency were two things about Ripken that nobody could ever match. Nobody probably ever will, either.
Third Base: Mike Schmidt, 509 Home Runs
Mike Schmidt is still occupying a couple of spots on the Phillies’ single-season home run leaderboard, and since his 548 total homers are among the most all-time (and the most in Philly’s history), it’s not shocking to see this guy here. Schmidt enjoyed two different streaks of at least four years when it came to hitting at least 30 home runs. The first streak came between 1974 and 1977, and the second streak came between 1979 and 1987.
That second run of nine seasons was incredibly impressive because it was also on the backside of the Hall of Fame third baseman’s career. Even if we single out the years from 1983 and 1987, which were his age-33 to age-37 seasons, it was clear he was just a different breed. He led baseball in homers three times and averaged 36 home runs with 108 RBI and 94 runs scored, all with a .278/.387/.537 line. In his mid- to late-30s. That’s impressive.
Oh, and he also racked up three of his 10 Gold Glove awards during this time, too.
Left Field: Barry Bonds, 725 Home Runs
We probably don’t actually need it, but let’s add some context to this number from Barry Bonds. The homers he hit while manning left field for the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants are more than any other MLB player’s career numbers in history, outside of Hank Aaron. That’s insane.
We know his 73 dingers are the most home runs in a season in MLB history. We also know by now that his historic 2001 performance was the only time in Bonds’ career that he hit more than 49 taters in a single season. But do you know how many times he led the league in homers during a specific season? You know, the single-season and all-time home run king?
That’d be just two times in 22 years. His 2001 season is obviously one, but he also led baseball with 46 home runs in 1993, which was one of Bonds’ seven NL MVP campaigns. Elite consistency is a helluva thing, folks. That ’93 season in Pittsburgh was the left-handed slugger’s first time surpassing the 40-homer mark, a number he’d reach another six times in his career. He was quite consistent on a monthly basis in 1993, hitting at least seven home runs each month.
Bonds actually hit exactly seven homers four different times, and the two times he didn’t, he slugged 10 in July and another eight in August.
Center Field: Willie Mays, 635 Home Runs
The same perspective we used for Bonds holds for Willie Mays, too. Although the list is longer, there are only a select number of MLB players who have hit more home runs in their career than Mays did while patrolling center field during his time in the league.
One of the many things I love when looking at Mays’ statistics is how he could beat a team in different ways. He won 12 Gold Gloves, won a batting title, led the league in home runs four times, and led the league in steals four times. In fact, he was the ultimate power/speed combination between 1955 and 1960, rattling off six straight seasons of at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases. This streak included consecutive 30-30 seasons from 1956-57, and it was nearly four straight. In 1958, Mays slugged 29 homers and stole 31 bases, while he hit 34 homers and stole 27 bases in 1959.
Despite Bonds owning the top spot on the Giants’ single-season home run list, Mays is heavily featured throughout because of the incredible numbers he compiled during his Hall of Fame career.
Right Field: Sammy Sosa, 538 Home Runs
What, you were expecting to see someone other than Sammy Sosa as the all-time home run leader for right fielders? I’d imagine that the two players most would assume to be here include Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. I mean, when you’re part of the 700-homer club, one likely expects them to show up on any general all-time home run leader list.
Aaron spent the majority of his career in right field (2,100 games), but he also racked up 300-plus games in center field and left field. He then spent 200-plus as a designated hitter and at first base, as well as a small handful at second and third base. Aaron was the closest of all, with 520 of his 755 dingers coming as a right fielder. As for Ruth, he appeared in nearly the same number of games in right field (1,062) as he did in left field (896) and his homer production followed suit (327 homers in right, 287 homers in left).
We’ve talked about Sosa’s peak between 1998 and 2002, as that surge in power helped him overtake Ernie Banks as the Chicago Cubs’ all-time home run leader. Before he started hitting 60 homers in a season multiple times, he had 30-plus dingers four times in a five-year span between 1993 and 1997. And if it wasn’t for the Strike in 1994, it would’ve been five in a row (he hit 25 homers in 106 games played).
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, 485 Home Runs
Hall of Famer David Ortiz has his own place in history on the Boston Red Sox all-time home run leader list. He also owns the franchise’s single-season home run record. So, this is just another feather in his cap for what ended up being an incredible career.
After hitting 32 home runs in 2010 as a 34-year-old, it wouldn’t have been surprising to think it was the last time Big Papi would reach the 30-homer plateau before retiring. He followed that performance with 29 homers in 146 games played during 2011 and then another 23 through 90 games played in 2012. But from 2013 to his final season in 2016, he just went off.
From his age-37 to age-40 seasons, Ortiz collected at least 30 homers and 100 RBI four straight times, and he even led the league in doubles (48) and RBI (127) as a 40-year-old. This span of time included 2,442 plate appearances. In addition to averaging 35 home runs, 38 doubles, and 110 RBI, Papi also slashed .290/.378/.564.
Pinch-Hitter: Matt Stairs, 23 Home Runs
Oh, were you not ever expecting to see Matt Stairs appear on our website? Well, my friends, that’s part of the beauty of MLB Daily Dingers. We’re trying to celebrate all aspects of home run history, which means some unexpected dudes will make appearances from time to time. And seriously, how could we make a list of the all-time home run leader at each position without including the all-time pinch-hit home run king? It just wouldn’t be right.
Stairs never led the league in any offensive categories and appeared in the top-20 of MVP voting once (he placed 17th in 1999). However, the man played in the big leagues for 19 years and last appeared in a game when he was 43 years old. Clearly, he did something right, and his ability to come in and produce in a pinch was part of that.
The left-handed hitter compiled nearly a full season’s worth of plate appearances as a pinch-hitter in his career (490). In addition to the 23 homers, he also collected 20 doubles, 87 RBI, and slashed .252/.357/.476. That batting line is incredibly close to his career line of .262/.356/.477, while his 162-game averages of 23 homers, 25 doubles, and 77 RBI in 515 plate appearances were also nearly spot-on to the rest of his production as a pinch-hitter.