MLB Single Season HR Record for Each Position

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How many ways can you dissect a single season HR record in Major League Baseball? We’ve done it quite a few ways, but the work isn’t totally done yet. Below, we’re taking a look at the single season HR record for each position on the diamond.

The one stipulation for this leaderboard concerns the amount of playing time. Not every single one of these homers were hit while said player was penciled into their respective position. The majority of them were, though. To be eligible for this list, players had to man their position for at least 75% of games played in a single season.

Single Season HR Record for Each Position: Infield

Catcher: Salvador Perez, 2021: 48 Home Runs

Salvador Perez had proven to be one of the game’s better hitting catchers over the years. But what he did in 2021 was above and beyond anything else he’d done in the big leagues to that point. He entered the year with eight straight seasons of double-digit homers, including four campaigns of 20-plus.

His single-season career-high mark was 27, a number he reached two straight years (2017 and 2018). It’s crazy to see how some of Perez’s splits compare to past home-run performances because they out-performed his previous high-water mark.

The backstop his 30 homers against right-handed hitters in 2021. He slugged 27 home runs on the road and 27 in the second half. August and September were the most powerful months of all. Perez hit 22 of his 48 homers during this span (12 in August, 10 in September). This hot streak gave him a share of the American League lead and Royals single-season record.

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Pitcher: Wes Ferrell, 1931: 9 Home Runs

Wes Ferrell produced a 4.04 ERA and 38.4 fWAR over 2,623 career innings. But this is the second time we’ve mentioned his home-run prowess on these interweb pages. In addition to being the single-season home run king for pitchers, he’s also the all-time leader.

Ferrell’s 1931 performance was especially eye-popping because of what he did prior to this season. Entering the year, the hurler had just one career homer in 239 plate appearances. So naturally, he slugged nine in 128 trips to the plate in ’31. This was also accompanied by a .319/.373/.621 line.

His power peak clearly happened between 1931 and 1936. During this six-year span, Ferrell slugged at least four homers in a season five times. He hit 34 of his 38 career homers during this time. Once the ’36 season was in the books, Ferrell went deep just four more times, and never more than once in the same year.

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There were eight instances of a pitcher hitting seven home runs in a season. Ferrell did it in 1933. Don Drysdale did it twice with the Dodgers (1958 and 1965). The only hurler who got to that number since 1968 was Mike Hampton in 2001.

First Base: Mark McGwire, 1998: 70 Home Runs

Ah, yes — the Mark McGwire home run performance we’ve talked about on several occasions here. This is obviously one of the most powerful seasons in baseball history. It’s also the most powerful one in Cardinals history. It’ll probably stay that way for a while, too.

The consistency McGwire displayed during the Great Home Run Chase was quite amazing. He never hit fewer than eight homers in a single month. In fact, the eight he hit in July was the lone month he didn’t reach double digits. While the majority of his homers came in St. Louis victories (45, to be exact), his OPS was still real good in both scenarios. When the Cardinals won, McGwire posted a 1.398 OPS. That number dropped to just 1.035 in losses.

The right-handed slugger collected 69 home runs while actually playing first base, with the other coming as a pinch-hitter.

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Second Base: Marcus Semien, 2021: 45 Home Runs

There’s no doubt that Aaron Judge‘s 2022 performance was one of the best “bet on yourself” seasons of all-time. But Marcus Semien‘s performance in 2021 wasn’t all that bad, either. After spending six years with the Oakland Athletics, he opted to take a one-year, $18 million deal with the Blue Jays to rebuild his value after a rough 2020 campaign.

He turned that into a $175 million contract with the Texas Rangers the following offseason after a historic offensive performance. Semien moved from shortstop to second base and proceeded to break Davey Johnson‘s 1973 home run record.

Semien did slug five homers in April, but struggled to a 77 wRC+ and .658 OPS in his first 107 plate appearances. He followed that with a 200 wRC+ in May and proceeded to never finished a month with that number below 111. The second baseman hit between five and eight homers per month between April and August, but it was September that took him over the top.

The right-handed hitter finished the final stretch with 13 homers. It also allowed him to have more homers after the All-Star break (23) than before it (22) despite accumulating 64 fewer plate appearances.

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Shortstop: Alex Rodriguez, 2002: 57 Home Runs

This is the first of two appearances for Alex Rodriguez, giving him an extra distinction for being the only player on this list multiple times. (Even if it comes with an asterisk.) A-Rod’s 2002 season was his fifth straight with at least 40 homers. That was a streak that’d continue in 2003 with another 47 dingers during his final year with Texas.

Although he had way more opportunities to hit right-handed pitching, it’s kind of shocking to see that Rodriguez didn’t really perform well against southpaws. In 181 plate appearances, he slugged just eight of his homers while slashing .239/.332/.453. Compare that to a .320/.412/.682 line with 49 homers in 544 plate appearances against righties and it really jumps off the page.

Obviously, consistency reigned supreme for the shortstop. He never hit fewer than seven homers in a month and slugged at least nine on four occasions. I’m also baffled by how similar his numbers were in July and August. Check it out:

July: .349/.420/.755 with 12 homers, 27 RBI, 21 runs scored, 37 total hits in 119 plate appearances

August: .339/.407/.706 with 12 homers, 27 RBI, 24 runs scored, 37 total hits in 123 plate appearances

That’s baseball for ya.

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Third Base: Alex Rodriguez, 2007: 54 Home Runs

Upon getting traded to the Yankees, Rodriguez continued to be a force at the plate. Everything pales in comparison to his 2007 performance, though. It was the first time he got back over 50 homers since 2002. This was also the last time he did it.

Until Judge surpassed him in 2022, these 54 homers from A-Rod were the most in a season by a right-handed hitter in Yankees history. The third baseman was good all year for the Bronx Bombers, but the first and last months were two of his best from a power perspective. Rodriguez started his year by hitting 14 dingers in April and ended it with another 10 in September/October.

It’s also interesting to see how much damage A-Rod did early in counts. On the first pitch of an at-bat, he slashed .307/.372/.707 with nine homers. When he let the first pitch go by and it was a ball, his OPS jumped from 1.079 to 1.651, which included 10 home runs.

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Single Season HR Record for Each Position: Outfield/DH

Left Field: Barry Bonds, 2001: 73 Home Runs

Whether it has an asterisk next to it or not, Barry Bonds is MLB’s single-season home run king. So, it’s not surprising that he’s at the top of the leaderboard for left fielders and in Giants history. Bonds enjoyed eight campaigns with 40-plus home runs, but 2001 was the only time he got over the half-century mark.

The left-handed slugger never finished a month with an OPS below 1.100. He also hit fewer than 11 homers in a month just once (six in July). There are two months that stick out the most, though: May and September/October.

Through 117 plate appearances in May, Bonds slashed .369/.547/1.036 with a whopping 17 home runs. As the calendar flipped to September and he could smell the record, he hit another gear. This included an other-worldly .403/.607/1.078 line and 16 home runs.

Bonds slugged 71 of his homers while actually playing left field, along with one as a designated hitter and another one as a pinch-hitter.

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Center Field: Hack Wilson (1930) & Ken Griffey Jr. (1997, 1998): 56 Home Runs

Hack Wilson had just an insane power peak that ended on a high note in 1930. From 1926-30, Wilson five straight years of 20 homers and 100 RBI. The last four of those performances included at least 30 dingers and 120 RBI.

The best of all was obviously 1930, which included those 56 homers and 191 RBI. By the end of April, Wilson had just four homers and 11 RBI through 16 games played. He didn’t finish a month with fewer than eight dingers and 29 RBI the rest of the way.

As for Ken Griffey Jr., the symmetry between his 1997 and 1998 seasons is admirable. I mean, just look at how similar these performances were:

This was also part of a four-year span where Griffey slugged at least 48 home runs in a season. His 1997 campaign included the only MVP Award of his Hall of Fame career. He went through a stretch in June and July that included just eight homers. Thankfully for him, the first two and last two months were much more powerful.

Griffey hit 24 homers in each instance. This included 13 in April, 11 in May, and 12 in each of August and September. Once again, consistency, thy name is Ken.

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Right Field: Sammy Sosa, 1998: 66 Home Runs

Since we’re on the topic of months with incredible home run production, Sammy Sosa is the one who sets the standard. Heading into June, the chase for 61 homers was certainly between McGwire and Griffey based on the starts they each enjoyed.

As for Sosa, he had a great start, but it included just 13 homers. He vaulted himself into the conversation with 20 (!!) home runs in June. The outfielder reached double digits in three of his final four months of the season. And believe it or not, Sosa actually appeared in center field seven times during the 1998 campaign. He hit one home run while playing the position.

Sosa swung at the first pitch 155 times in ’98. It led to some rather solid results, including a .368/.400/.764 line with 18 home runs. And regardless of whether the Cubs won (1.043) or lost (1.001), Sosa’s OPS looked virtually the same.

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Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, 2006: 54 Home Runs

David Ortiz‘s Red Sox record of 54 home runs was the culmination of an incredible streak. Between 2000 and 2006, he continually set and broke his single-season career-high home run mark. Check it out:

  • 2000: 10 homers
  • 2001: 18 homers
  • 2002: 20 homers
  • 2003: 31 homers
  • 2004: 41 homers
  • 2005: 47 homers
  • 2006: 54 homers

He never got back over 40 dingers in a single season after this stretch, but he also never hit fewer than 23, either. If we segment the game into three parts, Big Papi’s homer production is quite even throughout. He slugged 17 through the first three innings, 20 in the middle three, and 16 in the final three.

The two frames that were the most powerful included the fifth inning (11 homers) and the first inning (10 homers). Outside of those, Ortiz didn’t hit more than six homers in an inning.

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