Last Updated on September 14, 2022 by Matt Musico
MLB’s midsummer classic marks the unofficial halfway point of each regular season. With dingers flying out of the yard nightly, one might wonder who has hit the most home runs before the All Star break.
That’s why we’re here to help, folks. We’ve compiled a list of MLB sluggers with at least 30 home runs. A big thanks to Statmuse and MLB.com for this information, but let’s take it a step further, shall we? You’ll see context and videos for the 16 times a player has hit at least 32 homers in this situation. We then list out the other 24 times a player has gotten to 30 prior to the midsummer classic.
Most Home Runs Before the All Star Break: 34-plus Dingers
Barry Bonds, 2001: 39 Home Runs
It’s not surprising that Barry Bonds has been featured heavily on our website. That’s what happens when you own the all-time and single-season home run records. In that same light, it’s also not surprising that Bonds has hit the most home runs before the All-Star break. To hit 73 dingers in a season, one would imagine a historic pace is necessary from start to finish.
The 81 games and 259 plate appearances it took for him to reach 39 dingers was impressive, too. The only player to appear in fewer games was Mark McGwire in 1998 (80 games). But those 259 plate appearances were the fewest of anyone. Can you imagine nearly securing a 40-homer season by the All-Star break? That’s just insanity. The same could be said for all the numbers he produced.
Prior to the midsummer classic, Bonds posted a .305/.487/.826 line with those 39 home runs and 73 RBI. He slugged double-digit dingers in each of the first three months to start the year. In fact, the only time he didn’t do so was July. He slugged six in 118 plate appearances during that month. Bonds was good all year, but it was May that put him on his historic trajectory. In 117 plate appearances, he slashed .369/.547/1.036 with 17 homers and 30 RBI.
Chris Davis, 2013: 37 Home Runs
This list of sluggers will have a lot of overlap with our team-specific single-season home run kings. There’s a good reason for that, too. If a player is going to reach the top of a franchise leaderboard, a huge first or second half is usually necessary. Chris Davis is another solid example.
His 53 home runs in 2013 are still an Orioles record. That number led the league, as did his 138 RBI. His 37 first-half dingers also led to the first baseman securing his first and only All-Star Game selection. His triple slash was Bonds-like at .315/.392/.717. Davis also nearly had 100 RBI by the break, checking in with 93 in 95 games played.
When looking at the month-by-month breakdown, the slugging lefty did most of his work in the first half. And, it wasn’t just because that’s when he received the majority of his playing time. He eclipsed 20 RBI in a single month in April, May, and June. From July through September, he only did that once. Davis posted a 1.000 OPS in each of the first three months. He did that just once over the final three, as well.
Davis slugged more than 10 homers in a month twice in 2013. Both of those occurrences came in the first half (10 in May, 12 in June).
Mark McGwire, 1998: 37 Home Runs
When looking at these first-half performances, McGwire is really the only one in the same stratosphere as Bonds. After all, it took him just 80 games and 268 plate appearances to hit 37 dingers. Getting to 70 was an extraordinary accomplishment. He only held the single-season home run record for a couple of seasons, but it’s still the most powerful season in Cardinals history.
Similar to Bonds, McGwire also hit fewer than 10 homers in just one month. It was also in July when he hit eight homers. McGwire’s two most powerful months were in May (16 homers) and September (15 homers), just like Bonds. Of all the performances in his monthly breakdown, his 1.420 OPS in May was the best. It consisted of a .326/.513/.907 line with 16 homers and 32 RBI. Each of those numbers was the best he produced in a single month throughout 1998.
McGwire was obviously a big part of the Cardinals’ success. In victories, he hit 45 homers and posted a .889 slugging percentage. But in losses, he still collected 25 dingers with a .610 slugging percentage.
Reggie Jackson, 1969: 37 Home Runs
The true mark of a ballplayer’s impact is how long their presence is felt on leaderboards. For Reggie Jackson, his 47-homer barrage in 1969 is still among the most in a single season for the Athletics. He racked up those dingers and 118 RBI as a 23-year-old. There’d be some close calls the rest of the way, but he never eclipsed either of those numbers.
How impressive was this first-half performance? Let’s put it this way. Jackson played 21 years in the big leagues. There were just two other full seasons in which he hit more homers than he did before the 1969 All-Star Game. Those occurrences were in 1980 (41 home runs) and 1982 (39 home runs). And in ’69, it took him just 91 games (324 plate appearances) to hit that many.
What really got him moving was the month of June. Through the end of May, Jackson had 15 homers and 24 RBI in 171 plate appearances. In the 126 plate appearances that followed, he slugged 14 dingers with 37 RBI. Those numbers were accompanied by a .365/.464/.875 line. Jackson then slugged another 11 in July, giving him 25 homers in the span of two months. In the other four months he played, the left-hander hit more than six homers just once (nine in May).
Luis Gonzalez, 2001: 35 Home Runs
The 2001 season was huge for Luis Gonzalez for a few reasons. Yes, he won a World Series and got the game-winning hit in Game 7. That’s probably the biggest highlight. But, he also posted career-high marks in OPS (1.117), home runs (57), and RBI (142). This is still the most powerful season in Arizona Diamondbacks history. It probably will be for a long time.
I don’t typically like using the same comparison so quickly, but it’s too good to not do so for Gonzalez. His 35 homers in the first half of 2001 were more than any other full season of his MLB career. And he played in the big leagues for 19 years.
Gonzalez posted an OPS greater than 1.000 in each of the first five months of the regular season. His slugging percentage was also better than .600 in each case. The best of all was in June. Gonzo slugged 12 homers and collected 35 RBI while slashing .418/.496/.854 in 123 plate appearances. It’s also worth noting that he began his year with 13 homers and a 1.226 OPS in April. So, nearly half of his total dingers for the season came in two months.
Ken Griffey Jr., 1998: 35 Home Runs
We’ve talked a lot about the Great Home Run Chase in 1998 between McGwire and Sammy Sosa. So much that Ken Griffey Jr.‘s own performance gets swept under the rug a bit. This season ended up being the second one in a row where he slugged 56 for the Mariners, which is a single-season franchise record. If he didn’t slow down over the last two months (15 homers in August and September), he may have broken through the 60-homer plateau, as well.
Griffey got his campaign off to a solid start in April. Actually, he had an OPS greater than 1.000 to go along with 19 homers and 47 RBI through the end of May. But then in June, he went off. In just 126 plate appearances, he nearly doubled his homer production from the two months prior with 14 dingers. He added another 25 RBI to his ledger in the process.
What’s interesting is that the following month was Griffey’s best when using OPS as the barometer. That number settled in at 1.142 thanks to a .351/.462/.680 line. It included “just” eight homers, but he added another seven extra-base hits for good measure (six doubles, one triple).
Frank Howard, 1969: 34 Home Runs
Between the first-half performances from Jackson and Frank Howard, 1969 had an exciting start. This campaign was the second of three straight 40-homer seasons for the right-handed slugger. His personal career-high mark came in ’69 when he slugged 48 homers. He didn’t lead the league that season, though. Howard led baseball in homers the year prior and the year after (44 homers in each). All three of these performances are among the top-10 in Rangers franchise history.
Although Howard appeared in 100 games prior to the All-Star break (and 61 after it), he was clearly better in the first half. With those 34 homers, he slashed .313/.412/.628 in 432 plate appearances. In the 270 plate appearances to finish out the year, his line was .268/.385/.487.
The right-handed hitter enjoyed two straight 1.000-plus OPS months in June and July. The better month was the latter, which included a 1.215 OPS. It was also the only time he slugged more than 10 homers in a month (he hit 11).
Most Home Runs Before the All Star Break: 32 or 33 Dingers
Aaron Judge, 2022: 33 Home Runs
Aaron Judge knows how to make the most of his final year prior to hitting free agency, doesn’t he? Besides hitting 52 home runs as a rookie in 2017, his second-best homer output in a single year (for now) came in 2021 when he slugged 39 dingers. Entering the 2022 All-Star break, the 30-year-old has hit 33 round-trippers in just 389 trips to the plate. He’s not only easily on track to secure the fourth 5.0-fWAR performance of his career, but Judge’s 173 wRC+ at the break only trails the 174 mark he posted in 2017.
The outfielder has gotten here with consistency. He’s posted a .900 OPS in each of the first three full months of the year, along with slugging double-digit homers in May (12) and June (11). That month of May was quite dominant outside of all the dingers, too.
Through 119 plate appearances in May, Judge slashed .311/.378/.699 with those 12 homers, 25 RBI, and 25 runs scored. All those numbers are personal highs for a single month thus far. The New York Yankees entered the break as the best team in baseball, and Judge slugged 27 of his 33 first-half dingers in victories.
Shohei Ohtani, 2021: 33 Home Runs
How many pitchers are on this list? Yea, nobody else except Shohei Ohtani. That guy is good, and he’s got an AL MVP to prove it. The 2021 season was monumental for a number of reasons. For the purposes of this article, though, we’ll only focus on the offense he produced.
The entire year was impressive for Ohtani. He set single-season career-high marks for homers (46), RBI (100), doubles (26), and triples (eight). Those 46 dingers were nearly a new Angels record, too. And just by looking at this list, his 33 first-half dingers were the most before an All-Star break since 2013. There were precisely three times Ohtani posted a monthly slugging percentage better than .600: April, June, and July.
June and July were the best of all. These were the only two months of the year he posted an OPS better than 1.000. He hit 22 of his 46 homers during this time, with 13 of them coming in June. What’s interesting about Ohtani’s season is that he hit the same number of homers in wins as he did in losses (23 each). Obviously, with Los Angeles finishing under .500, he had more opportunities to slug dingers in losses.
You can check out all of Ohtani’s homers from year-to-year here.
Sammy Sosa, 1998: 33 Home Runs
On his way to eclipsing the 60-homer plateau and setting the Cubs’ new single-season record, I’ll always marvel at Sammy Sosa’s month of June in 1998. Through the end of May, Sosa had slugged 13 homers. A solid total, but nothing that’d make anyone think he’d eventually pass Roger Maris. But, then June happened and he hit 20 (!!) dingers in just 121 plate appearances. The outfielder added 40 RBI for good measure, too.
The only other time he accumulated double-digit homers in a month was in August (13) and September (11). It’s also worth noting the obvious symmetry going on in his first- and second-half numbers. In 372 plate appearances before the All-Star break, he collected 33 homers with 81 RBI and a .667 slugging percentage. He stepped to the plate 350 times after the midsummer classic and accumulated another 33 homers with 77 RBI and a .626 slugging percentage.
Ken Griffey Jr., 1994: 33 Home Runs
As we’ll see, hitting 30 homers prior to the All-Star break is something Ken Griffey Jr. did quite a bit. This occurrence is the second of three times his name shows up on this list alone. The dude was a near-unanimous first-ballot Hall of Famer for a reason, you know.
This performance is sad because the Strike robbed us of what he could’ve done if given a full season’s worth of games. It ended up being his second straight campaign with 40-plus homers and a 1.000-plus OPS. But when we look at the pace he was on, Junior likely would’ve gotten to 50 easily. In 1993, he slugged 45 dingers in 691 plate appearances. He reached 40 in ’94 in just 493 plate appearances.
A whopping 25 of these dingers came in May and June. The majority came in May (he hit 15), which was obviously his best overall month. In addition to driving in 25 runs, he slashed .333/.426/.818 in 115 trips to the plate. Interestingly enough, not all 40 of his 1994 homers came as a center fielder. One of them came while he was manning right field, and another two came as a designated hitter.
Matt Williams, 1994: 33 Home Runs
I’ll be honest…when putting this list together, Matt Williams was a hitter I wasn’t expecting to see. That’s the beauty of baseball, though. During his 17-year career, the infielder slugged a total of 378 home runs. On six different occasions, he finished with 30 or more. However, the only time he finished above 40 was in 1994. He hit a league-leading 43 dingers with 96 RBI and a .926 OPS. He made the All-Star Game, won a Gold Glove, and won a Silver Slugger. Oh, and he finished second in NL MVP voting.
With him hitting 38 home runs the year prior, this two-year stretch was the most powerful one of Williams’ career. Through 1,102 plate appearances accumulated, he slashed .282/.322/.581. What’s sad is as great as his first-half performance was, he was tracking to be even better in the second half. Before everything got shut down, of course.
In 26 games following the All-Star break, he slashed .318/.348/.673 with 10 homers and 27 RBI. Williams’ best month when looking at OPS (1.081), homers (11), and RBI (32) came in July. It was the third double-digit homer month he produced in four tries before the season ended prematurely.
Mark McGwire, 1987: 33 Home Runs
McGwire also knows a thing or two about getting seasons off to a powerful start. This performance in 1987 was impressive because it was his rookie season. He led the league with 49 homers that year, which was an MLB rookie record until Aaron Judge broke it in 2017.
The lion’s share of Big Mac’s homers came in May when he slugged 15 in 110 plate appearances. This was actually the only month of the year he hit more than 10 dingers. He did come close on a number of occasions, though. McGwire hit nine homers each in June, July, and September. Speaking of September, he truly solidified earning AL Rookie of the Year honors with a strong finish.
In addition to hitting nine homers with 23 RBI, McGwire collected 11 doubles while scoring 19 runs in 129 plate appearances. This was accompanied by a .351/.419/.694 triple slash.
Roger Maris, 1961: 33 Home Runs
Once again, when your performance lands among the most home runs in a season ever, it’s helpful to be on a list like this. Although Maris has officially been passed, he’s still currently the Yankees’ single-season home run king. The ’61 season was Maris’ second of consecutive MVP performances. He led the league in RBI both seasons, as well. One of my favorite stats about Maris’ 1961 campaign was the slow start he dealt with.
Fresh off winning his first MVP award, the outfielder hit exactly one home run with four RBI in his first 15 games. He didn’t hit fewer than 10 in any of the final four months. So that means he managed to hit 60 home runs in the span of just 637 plate appearances.
Maris’ production was in line according to how the Yankees performed overall. If they won, the outfielder was a huge part of it. He posted a 1.109 OPS with 47 homers and 111 RBI in New York victories. When they lost, his OPS dropped to .757 with 14 home runs and 30 RBI.
Albert Pujols, 2009: 32 Home Runs
Albert Pujols had already accomplished plenty as he prepared for 2009. He’d won the Rookie of the Year Award, two NL MVPs, four Silver Sluggers, one Gold Glove, and one World Series. Something he hadn’t done at this point? Lead the league in home runs. Naturally, he added that to his Hall of Fame resume during this season.
In addition to winning his second consecutive MVP award, Pujols blasted 47 homers to lead the league. That was a career-high mark for him, which is also among the most in a single season for the Cardinals. Prior to the All-Star break, the first baseman did his thing, which was constantly rake. In addition to those 32 dingers, he drove in 87 runs with a .332/.456/.723 line through 386 plate appearances. And sure, Pujols added just 15 following the midsummer classic, but nothing else fell off. He still posted a 1.009 OPS with another 48 RBI and 23 doubles in 314 plate appearances.
Pujols posted a monthly OPS greater than 1.000 in five of the six months that season. His best of all — whether we’re talking OPS, homers, or RBI — was June. In 117 trips to the plate, the right-handed slugger posted a 1.283 OPS with 14 home runs and 35 RBI. Coming into the month, he had 18 homers and 42 RBI. Doubling two months’ worth of work in half the time is always a good sign.
Sammy Sosa, 1999: 32 Home Runs
Following a 66-homer season and an MVP performance, it would’ve been natural for Sosa to start slow in 1999. As we can see here, the opposite happened. He slugged another 63 homers overall during this campaign and split his power production basically down the middle between both halves.
Sosa’s first half included 32 homers and 74 RBI, while his second half included 31 homers and 67 RBI. His production was almost identical at home (33 homers, 71 RBI) and away (30 homers, 7o RBI), too. The thing about Sosa’s first-half performance, though, was that he did start a little slow. Through the end of April, he slugged four homers with 11 RBI while hitting .253/.330/.481 in 91 plate appearances. But then, he went absolutely nuts over the next four months.
From May 1st through August 31st, Sosa slashed an incredible .311/.386/.715 through 485 plate appearances. That sussed out to a 166 wRC+. He also accumulated 51 home runs and 110 RBI during this time. He didn’t finish any of these four months with fewer than 10 homers or 27 RBI. The best of all was August when he slugged 15 homers and collected 28 RBI.
Frank Thomas, 1994: 32 Home Runs
From 1993-96, Frank Thomas posted three seasons of 40-plus homers in four tries. If it wasn’t for the 1994 Strike, he probably would’ve had four straight performances above 40. He finished the year with 38 homers and 101 RBI in 513 plate appearances. Thomas accompanied that by hitting .353/.487/.729 en route to winning his second consecutive AL MVP award.
Once the All-Star break rolled around, he was in Ted Williams territory regarding his batting average. Thomas arrived at the midsummer classic with a .383/.515/.795 line. He cooled off considerably in 27 games after the break, hitting just .260/.400/.521. I say “just” because it pales in comparison to what he did in the first half. In reality, though, that’s more than respectable for any big leaguer.
When looking at Thomas’ monthly splits, you’ll need to pick your jaw up off the floor after seeing what he did in May. The Big Hurt stepped to the plate 118 times over 25 games played. He hit an incredible .452/.593/.988 with 12 homers, nine doubles, and 28 RBI. This was the only month he surpassed 10 homers, and boy, did he make it count.
Most Home Runs Before the All Star Break: The Rest
At the moment, there have been another 24 instances of a hitter slugging 30-plus homers before the All-Star break. Here’s the rest of that list:
- Christian Yelich, 2019: 31 home runs
- Jose Bautista, 2011: 31
- David Ortiz, 2006: 31
- Jose Canseco, 1999: 31
- Mark McGwire, 1997: 31
- Kevin Mitchell, 1989: 31
- Mike Schmidt, 1979: 31
- Willie Mays, 1954: 31
- Pete Alonso, 2019: 30
- Cody Bellinger, 2019: 30
- Aaron Judge, 2017: 30
- Miguel Cabrera, 2013: 30
- Alex Rodriguez, 2007: 30
- Jim Thome, 2006: 30
- Barry Bonds, 2003: 30
- Mark McGwire, 2000: 30
- Greg Vaughn, 1998: 30
- Ken Griffey Jr., 1997: 30
- Brady Anderson, 1996: 30
- Dave Kingman, 1976: 30
- Willie Stargell, 1973 and 1971: 30
- Willie McCovey, 1969: 30
- Harmon Killebrew, 1964: 30
Who will be the next one to join this group? As we can see, Judge just punched his ticket for the second time in his career, and some others just missed. This will be a club that others will join in the coming years.
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