MLB Home Run Leaders By Year—2000s
Is the ball juiced or not juiced? Is the home run leader juiced or not juiced? These are all controversial questions, but questions that are constantly being asked nonetheless. And no matter, it appears that Major League Baseball's powers that be will never put an asterisk in the record books for any offensive or pitching category. And so these home run leaders will forever be etched in the record books, even if some of the numbers seem startlingly inflated. This particular list is the home run leaders by year in the current decade:
2007-Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (54)
In fifteen seasons, Alex Rodriguez has amassed 508 home runs with three different teams. And while the 54 long balls he hit in 2007 were not a career high, it was the best in either league. Rodriguez had an incredible season overall on his way to winning the AL MVP Award, leading the Yankees from sub-.500 team in May to wild card winner in September. Rodriguez hit .314 with the 56 homers and career highs of 156 runs batted in .645 slugging percentage.
2006-Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies (58)
Phillies' first baseman Ryan Howard broke into the majors in 2004, and 2006 was his first full season with the Phillies. Howard led the majors that season with 58 home runs, adding 149 RBI and batting .313. He also had 25 doubles, scored 104 runs and had a slugging percentage of .659, on his way to taking home the National League MVP Award. David Ortiz led the American League in 2006 with 54 homers.
2005-Andruw Jones, Atlanta Braves (51)
Before 2005, Braves' outfielder Andruw Jones had a previous high of 36 home runs in a season, which he attained in both 2000 and 2003. But in 2005, Jones had a career year, belting 51 homers with 128 RBI, though he batted only .263 (his career average). Jones also had a career high slugging percentage that season of .575.
2004-Adrian Beltre, Los Angeles Dodgers (48)
Adrian Beltre is one of those players whose career numbers make you shake your head in disbelief. In 2003, Beltre hit 23 homers, and in 2005 he hit just 19. But in 2004, Beltre led the majors with 48 home runs. He also hit just about everything thrown to him, with a batting average of .334 and 121 runs batted in, as well as 32 doubles and a .629 slugging percentage. Beltre's next best total for a single season in homers was 2007, with 26.
2003-Jim Thome, Philadelphia Phillies (47) and Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers (47)
While this wasn't Jim Thome's career high (he hit 52 homers in 2002 while with Cleveland), he tied Texas' Alex Rodriguez in 2003 for the MLB lead with 47 home runs. Thome, in his first year with the Phillies, batted just .266 but hit the 47 homers along with a career high of 131 RBI. Rodriguez, meanwhile, batted .298 with the 47 long balls and 118 RBI, in his last season with Texas before being traded to the Yankees.
2002-Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers (57)
In his next-to-last season with Texas, shortstop Alex Rodriguez hit the most home runs in a single season in his career with 57. A-Rod hit .300 and drove in 142 runs with 27 doubles and 125 runs scored, and had a slugging percentage of .623.
2001-Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants (73)
This was the big one, the year that Barry Bonds broke the hallowed home run record that had been set by Mark McGwire three years earlier. But with both of those players forever linked to the "steroids" era, the record is certainly tarnished, and that's sad because it may never be broken again. Still, it's amazing to look at Bonds' stat line from 2001--.328 batting average, 73 homers, 137 RBI, 32 doubles, 129 runs scored, and an unbelievable .863 slugging percentage (also an all-time record). What is even more remarkable than anything, though, is that Bonds' 73 homers constituted almost half of his hits (156).
2000-Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs (50)
Though the Cubs' Sammy Sosa hit 66 home runs in 1998, 63 in 1999 and 64 in 2001, he only led the majors once, with just 50 long balls in 2000. Sosa had a great season in 2000 overall, hitting .320 with the 50 homers, 138 runs batted in, 38 doubles and a .634 slugging percentage. Amazingly though, he only finished 9th in the NL MVP voting.