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Young Guns: Hitting 100 Homers Before 25th Birthday

Updated on June 16, 2017
Bryce Harper already has 134 home runs and won't turn 25 until after the season.
Bryce Harper already has 134 home runs and won't turn 25 until after the season. | Source

One of the rarer feats you’ll see in baseball is a player reaching 100 career home runs before his 25th birthday; it’s only happened 44 times in history. Even rarer is reaching 150 before that quarter century birthday, but one player this season has a legitimate shot at that—Bryce Harper.

Harper won’t reach his 25th birthday until Oct. 16 (hard to believe, isn’t it? He’s already in his sixth big league season). As of May 19, Harper has 134 homers, which already puts him 19th on the list for most homers before age 25. If he hits 16 more, he’ll become only the 14th youngster to reach that total. If he belts 27 more, which is certainly within his reach, he’ll have the seventh highest homer total for that young group.

Harper isn’t the only player still younger than 25 to already be above the 100-homer career mark. Manny Machado currently has 114 dingers, and the Orioles have 45 more games scheduled before he turns 25. Another 10 homers would put him in the top 25 for most home runs by a player younger than 25, certainly an accomplishable feat for him.

Record Is 190 Before Age 25

But not even Harper has a shot at reaching the top mark of most homers from someone short of his 25th birthday. That record is held by Eddie Mathews of the Milwaukee Braves, who crushed 190 homers from ages 20-24. He went on to hit another 322 in his career and ended up with 512.

A somewhat distant second is Mel Ott, who bashed 176 and finished with 511 lifetime, followed closely by Jimmie Foxx at 174 (534), Mickey Mantle, 173 (536); and Alex Rodriguez, 172 (696) and Ken Griffey Junior, 172 (630).

To be clear: I am talking about home runs right up to the day before a player’s 25th birthday. Some stat charts count all the homers in the player’s 24th-year season, meaning if he turned 25 after June 30, as A-Rod did, they count all the homers he hit that year. Those charts have Alex Rodriguez second with 189 homers; however, he hit 17 that season after his 25th birthday. I am counting just those right up to the birthday.

Other active players who reached this mark by their 25th birthdays are Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, 160; Giancarlo Stanton, 154; Miguel Cabrera, 141; and Justin Upton, Jay Bruce and Adrian Beltre, 100.

Of the 44 players on the list, 15 went on to top 500 for their careers, four of them over 600 (Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Beltre potentially will reach the 500 club, as well as some of the young players). Seventeen of them are already in the Hall of Fame.

100 or More Homers by Age 25

Player
HR
Eddie Mathews
190
Mel Ott
176
Jimmie Foxx
174
Mickey Mantle
173
Alex Rodriguez
172
Ken Griffey Jr.
172
Mike Trout
160
Frank Robinson
160
Albert Pujols
160
Andruw Jones
156
Orlando Cepeda
154
Giancarlo Stanton
154
Johnny Bench
154
Miguel Cabrera
141
Juan Gonzalez
140
Hank Aaron
140
Joe DiMaggio
137
Hal Trosky
136
Bryce Harper*
134
Bob Horner
129
Boog Powell
127
Ted Williams
127
Al Kaline
125
Tony Conigliaro
124
Willie Mays
119
Prince Fielder
119
Adam Dunn
118
Manny Machado*
114
Ruben Sierra
114
Jose Canseco
111
Eddie Murray
111
Darryl Strawberry
108
Harmon Killebrew
106
Troy Glaus
105
Eric Chavez
105
Reggie Jackson
105
Tom Brunansky
104
Ron Santo
104
Cesar Cedeno
103
Justin Upton
100
Cal Ripken Jr.
100
Jay Bruce
100
Adrian Beltre
100
Lou Gehrig
100
*Not yet 25
 

Injuries and Unmet Promises

Three players probably would have had quite a few more homers before age 25 except for circumstances that kept them out of the lineup. Ted Williams and Willie Mays both lost a year to military service before that age, and Tony Conigliaro lost more than a year after suffering a horrendous beaning when he was 22.

By and large, most of the men who had great success hammering the ball before age 25 went on the have above average to great careers, but there are a few outliers such as Bob Horner, who hit 129 by the time he was 25 but only 89 more after that, and Hal Trosky, who hit 136 by 25 but only 92 afterwards in a career cut short by unbearable migraine headaches. Injuries also affected the career of Eric Chavez, while Tom Brunansky and Cesar Cedeno never quite followed through on the careers people expected of them.

Eddie Mathews hit 190 of his 512 career home runs before his 25th birthday.
Eddie Mathews hit 190 of his 512 career home runs before his 25th birthday. | Source

Two Reasons it Doesn't Happen More

There are two primary reasons hitting 100 homers before age 25 is such a rarity. One is that you have to start fairly young, and many players don’t reach the majors until age 23 or later. Aaron Judge, for example, may end up having a great career hitting homers, but when he turned 25 on April 26 he had hit only 10 career long balls.

The other issue is that many players don’t fully mature physically until they’re 24 or later. Starlin Castro, for example, got in five seasons before he turned 25 and had only 51 career homers. Last year he hit 21 and has seven so far this season because he’s bigger, stronger and smarter.

Two More Possibilities

It takes a special talent to have the raw power to hit homers at an early age like Harper, Machado and the rest so reaching 100 before age 25 will continue to be a rarity. Currently only two players are in a position to make a run at that number – Rougned Odor, who currently has 64 and won’t turn 25 until after the 2018 season, and Carlos Correa, who has 47 and won’t reach 25 until Sept. 22, 2019.

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    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 2 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Great article, and I'm pleased whenever I see other folks who love baseball like I do.

      Joey Gallo could hit 50 this year at age 23. He's the real deal, and I don't think we care any more if he only hits .200 in a season.

      I'm rooting for Gallo to best Judge this year. I'm a Texan.

      I don't guess I'd thought about Bob Horner since 1986. Was pleased to be reminded about him.

    • Matthew DeWitte profile image

      Matthew DeWitte 2 months ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Awesome article, one player I think that has a chance at the record would be Kyle Schwarber. He has the power like the Babe himself. I enjoy your articles!

    • GaryKauffman profile image
      Author

      GaryKauffman 2 months ago from North Augusta, South Carolina

      Schwarber has a chance to be a great player but no chance of reaching 100 homers before he turns 25 next March. He would have to hit 84 homers this year to reach that mark. Joey Gallo has a chance since he doesn't turn 25 until after the 2018 season. But he has to average 47 homers per season for each of the next two years to do it - a stretch but possible with his power if he can make contact a little more frequently. Wesman Todd Shaw, it looks like you live in a great town if you could just add one more "f" to the name!

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