Following a successful career as a journalist, graphic designer, and marketer, Gary Kauffman is now a freelance writer.
Only 30 players have been able to hit at least 50 home runs in a single season. Here are some fun facts about hitting 50 homers, thanks to my research using Baseball-Reference.com.
Fun Facts About Hitting 50 Homers
1. Stanton and Judge had the 44th and 45th 50-homer seasons.
2. Only 26 players have accounted for the 40 50-plus homer seasons.
3. Of the 40 50-plus homer seasons, 28 have been since the strike season of 1994.
4. In those 40 seasons, no one has ever finished the season with 55 homers. 54 was reached seven times and 56 three times.
5. Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa all have hit 50-plus four times. Alex Rodriguez did it three times. The only other players to do it more than once are Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Jimmie Foxx, and Ralph Kiner.
6. Babe Ruth was the first player to top 50 homers when he hit 54 in in 1920. The previous record was 29, which he’d hit the year before.
7. Five players have hit 60 or more in a season. Sammy Sosa did it three times, Mark McGwire twice. The others are Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, and Roger Maris.
8. In the three seasons Sammy Sosa hit more than 60 homers, he finished second in homers each year.
9. 2017 is the 12th time two players have reached 50 or more in the same season. The other years are 1938, 1947, 1961, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2006, and 2007.
10. The most players hitting 50 or more in one season happened in 1998 and in 2001, when four players topped the mark. No other season had more than two.
11. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris are the only teammates to hit 50-plus in the same season. In 1961, Maris hit 61 and Mantle 54.
12. Cecil Fielder and Prince Fielder are the only father-son duo to both hit 50. Cecil hit 51 in 1990, and Prince hit 50 in 2007.
13. The 50-homer mark has been reached 27 times by right-handed batters and 16 times by left-handed batters. Mickey Mantle is the only switch-hitter to do it, accomplishing it in 1956 and 1961.
14. There have been 24 50-plus homer seasons in the American League and 20 in the National League. In 1997, Mark McGwire hit 58 between the two leagues—34 with Oakland and 24 with St. Louis.
15. The New York Yankees have had the most 50-homer seasons. Judge’s 50th homer marked the ninth time a Yankee reached that number.
16. Prince Fielder was the youngest to reach 50 at age 23. Barry Bonds was the oldest at age 36.
17. The most frequent age to hit 50 homers is 26. Six players were 26 when they reached the milestone. Five players were 32 years old.
18. The position with the most 50-plus homer seasons is first base, with 13 by a player playing primarily at first. Eleven rightfielders, including Judge and Stanton, have reached 50.
19. The only third baseman to reach 50-plus is Alex Rodriguez, who is also the only shortstop to do it (Jose Bautista played 48 games at third when he hit 54 in 2010 but was primarily an outfielder). David Ortiz is the only player who was primarily a DH to reach 50.
20. No second baseman or catcher has ever hit 50 homers.
21. Alex Rodriguez, McGwire, and Jimmie Foxx are the only players to hit 50 homers with two different teams. A-Rod did it with Texas and New York; McGwire with Oakland and St. Louis; and Foxx with the Philadelphia A’s and Boston Red Sox.
22. Ken Griffey Jr. hit 56 homers in consecutive seasons in 1997 and 1998. The only other player to hit the same total twice was Babe Ruth, hitting 54 in 1920 and 1928.
23. The player who hit 50 in the fewest games was Mark McGwire when he hit 52 in 130 games in 1996. Babe Ruth hit 54 in 142 games in 1920.
24. McGwire is the only player to reach 50-plus in fewer than 600 plate appearances. He had 548 in 1996.
25. Alex Rodriguez had the most plate appearances in a year when he hit 50-plus, with 732 in 2001.
26. Twenty-nine of the players with 50-plus homer seasons batted .300 or higher that season.
27. The highest batting average among players with 50-plus homers is .378 by Babe Ruth in 1921 when he hit 59. He also batted .376 in 1920 when he hit 54.
28. The lowest batting average in those 45 seasons was .260 by Bautista in 2010. Andrew Jones hit only .263 in 2005 and Roger Maris .269 in 1961.
29. Four players had 200-plus hits the year they reached 50 homers, led by Jimmie Foxx with 213 when he belted 58 homers in 1932. Hack Wilson had 208 in 1930, Babe Ruth 204 in 1921, and Alex Rodriguez 201 in 2001.
30. Five players had fewer than 150 hits in the 50-homer year, three of those by Mark McGwire. He had 132 in 1996 when he hit 52, 145 in 1999 when he hit 65, and 148 in 1997 when he hit 58. Jim Thome with 146 in 2002 and Jose Bautista with 148 in 2010 are the others.
31. The highest OPS (on base plus slugging percentages) is a tie between Babe Ruth in 1920 and Barry Bonds in 2001. Both had a 1.379 OPS. In 1921, Ruth had an OPS of 1.359.
32. The lowest OPS was .922 by Andruw Jones in 2005. Only seven of the players with 50 homers had an OPS under 1.000.
33. The only player to hit 50 doubles in the same year he hit 50 homers was Albert Belle in 1995, when he bashed 52 doubles to go with his 50 homers.
34. The most triples by someone with 50-plus homers was 16 by Babe Ruth in 1921 when he hit 59. The Yankees played in the Polo Grounds then with centerfield 480 feet away, so probably a number of those triples would have been homers in today’s parks.
35. Twelve times, players who hit 50-plus homers had a slugging percentage higher than .700. Barry Bonds had the highest, .863 in 2001. Babe Ruth topped .800 twice.
36. The most RBIs in a 50-plus homer season is 191 by Hack Wilson of the Cubs when he hit 56 homers in 1930. That is also the all-time record for RBIs in a season.
37. The fewest RBIs in a season is 110 by Brady Anderson of Baltimore when he hit 50 in 1996.
38. The most runs scored in a 50-homer season is 177 by Babe Ruth when he hit 59 in 1921. He scored 158 or more runs in all four of his 50-homer seasons. The only other one to top 150 was Jimmie Foxx with 151 in 1932 when he hit 58.
39. The fewest runs scored in a 50-homer season was 86 by Mark McGwire when he hit 58 in 1997, meaning he scored only 28 times on someone else’s hit. Andruw Jones, when he hit 51 in 2005, is the only other player to score less than 100 times (95).
40. The most strikeouts in a 50-homer season is by Judge, currently with 204, topping the mark of 199 by Chris Davis when he hit 53 in 2013.
41. The fewest strikeouts in a 50-homer season is 42 by Johnny Mize in 1947 when he hit 51 homers. No other player with 50 homers struck out fewer times than the number of homers he hit, although Roger Maris fanned just 67 times when he hit 61 in 1961.
42. The most walks by someone with 50-plus homers is 177 by Barry Bonds when he hit 73 in 2001. Of those, 35 were intentional.
43. The fewest walks by a 50-homer player was 61 by George Foster when he hit 52 in 1977, 10 of them intentionally.
44. In 1961, Roger Maris did not receive a single intentional base on balls despite hitting 61 homers. Having Mickey Mantle, who hit 54 homers, batting behind him explains why.
45. Intentional walks are not available for some of baseball’s earliest seasons, but Sammy Sosa in 2001 and Ryan Howard in 2006 received the most intentional walks, 37. Barry Bonds had 35 in 2001.
46. Nine times, a player hit 50-plus homers and did not lead his league in the category.
47. Home run hitters are rarely stolen base threats. In 22 of the 45 seasons, the hitters had five or fewer stolen bases, and five of them had no stolen bases.
48. The most stolen bases by a 50-plus homer hitter is 24 by Willie Mays in 1955 when he hit 51 and Alex Rodriguez in 2007 when he hit 54.
49. Aaron Judge is one of just 17 players who had nine or more stolen bases in the year they hit 50-plus homers.
50. The player who reached 50 homers who was the least likely to do so was Brady Anderson when he hit 50 in 1996. Before that, his highest total was 21, and after his highest was 24. He had hit only 41 homers in the three seasons combined prior to hitting 50, and he hit 18 each of the next two seasons after.
Angel Guzman from Joliet, Illinois on September 29, 2017:
Good read! The RBI record held by a Chicago Cub! :)
Tom Lohr from Magdalena, NM on September 28, 2017:
Interesting...and timely. Thanks for the read.