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Today on, the underrated Tim Kurkjian provides a story that headlines Barry Bonds, but which more interestingly examines the possibility of a number of hitting and pitching milestones that could be reached in 2007. At one point, he writes the following:

500 Home Run guys: There is a chance that five players will join the 500-Home Run Club this year, which would be a first. Frank Thomas is 13 away. Jim Thome is 28 away. Manny Ramirez is 30 away. Alex Rodriguez is 36 away. Gary Sheffield needs 45. This used to be an exclusive little club. Now it's up to 20. Soon, the 20 will become 25. In another 15 years, there are going to be 35. Get used to the growth.

It raises an interesting point ...

... which is, really, does anyone care about 500 homers any more?

It's only a mild overstatement. I remember, when I was younger, Mike Schmidt getting to 500 homers. I remember Eddie Murray getting there. Conversely, I have no real recollection of, say, Dave Kingman or Willie Stargell hitting the "magical" number 400.

I also have no memory of Ken Griffey Jr. hitting his 500th homer, and have no real sense of anticipation for Hurt, Thome or even A-Rod to get to 500. So ... is 500 the new 400? And does it matter?

On a related note, on the list of active players who haven't yet reached 400 -- or even those who have but aren't yet up to the level of Kurkjian's list (Carlos Delgado, we're looking at you!) -- who will someday reach the perhaps-no-longer magical half-a-thousand?

Thirty years ago, you never could have convinced this Ohio-born tyke that Johnny Bench wouldn't get there. He ended his career with 389. So be careful in your projections!

500 Homers: Does Anyone Care? | 19 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
AWeb - Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 03:32 PM EST (#162924) #
Do people remember Aaron's 500th? Or Mays? Maybe a little, but they were just small milestones on the way to even greater ones. I think what makes 500 seem like not such a big deal lately is the expectation of a lot more to come. Murray squeaked over 500 at the end of a great career, it was memorable because he wasn't going to hit 600. I remember Griffey Jr. getting there and thinking "Wow, it took him this long?". Especially with Bonds' late career performance, there isn't a sense that 500 HRs is the last great milestone someone will reach (unless they're really not good anymore). We expect (unfairly) hundreds more now. So reaching 500 while still being productive will often rate a big yawn, wake me at 600.

600 is still looking pretty incredible. That neither McGwire or Sosa made it there (Sosa still could, I suppose), well, that seemed impossible in 1999.
TamRa - Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 03:51 PM EST (#162926) #

Observations worth noting...

Griffey needs 37 for 600. Probably can do within the next two seasons.

Thomas, as noted, needs 13 for 500. Could reach as high as 525-530 this year. Has an outside chance at 600.

Thome, Ramirez, A-Rod all make it this year. Shef needs two more seasons.

If A-Rod finishes this season with 500, and plays 8 more seasons averinging 20 HR per, he passes Aaron. If he hits an average of 25, then he needs less than seven seasons after this one.

Piazza has 419 and MIGHT make his way to 450.

Delgado has 407, he ought to pass 440 this year without much trouble and, with health, pass 500 a couple years after that. By then he'll be 37-38 years old and in decline (presumably). There might be some poetry in brringing him back to Toronto to DH after Thomas is done and seeing how long he can hold a pure power stroke capable of 30 or so HR a year. If he could hold out as long as Thomas intends to he might make a run at 600.

Chipper Jones is the same Age as Carlos and has only 357.  Much over 450 for him would be a suprise.

Giambi is 35 and has only 350 - he'll prob never see 500 unless he plays to a great age.

The youngest guy in the top 20 is Andruw Jones, at 29 he has 342 and is in his power prime. He should sail past 400 in the next couple of years, and be closing on 500 by the time he's the age Delgado is now. After that, who knows how swift the decline might be. But barring major injury, 500 seems pretty certain.

Vlad Gurrero has 338 at age 30. 400 in a couple of years seems doable, and anyone at 40 by 32 has a clean shot at 500.

Hows this at a guess for the all-time leaders, 10 years from now:

1. Alex Rodruigez - 775

2. Barry Bonds - 760

3.  Hank Aaron - 755

4. Babe Ruth - 714

5. Wille Mays - 660

6. Ken Griffey - 640

7. Manny Ramirez - 625

8. Andruw Jones - 610

9. Sammy Sosa - 601

10. Frank Thomas - 590

11. Frank Robinson - 588

12. Mark McGwire  - 583

13. Vlad Gurrero - 580

14. Carlos Delgado - 577

15. Jim Thome - 575

16. Harmon Killibrew - 573

17. Rafiel Palmerio - 569

18. Reggie Jackson - 563

19. Gary Shefield - 556

20. David Ortiz - 550


John Northey - Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 03:53 PM EST (#162927) #

It is interesting how standards change.  I remember back in 1985 how it was a 'so what' when Rod Carew made it to 3000 because Pete Rose was going for (and reaching) 4191.  How 300 wins for Phil Niekro was cool, but nothing special since Tom Seaver did it earlier that season, Gaylord Perry in '82, Don Sutton would do it the next season, Steve Carlton did it a couple years earlier, plus a few others were close or retired just shy of it (Tommy John, Bert Blyleven, Fergie Jenkins, Jim Kaat). 

Today 500 is secondary due to a wave of guys reaching it and a few guys shooting past it (Griffey, Bonds, and Sosa & McGwire were both expected to reach 600+).  Things will change again I'm sure and 500, while not the milestone it once was, will still be important.  McGwire is the first test of it as a HOF marker (rightly or wrongly) and Palmeiro will be a big test of both 500 & 3000 as 'must go in' marks. 

600 I think is still a safe 'in unless you bet' marker.  I suspect people will calm down on Sosa in a few years, especially if he makes a good comeback and says/does 'the right things' - ie: speaks out against drugs and starts being seen as a community leader again.  We still have just 4 guys at 600+ with just Griffey, and A-Rod looking like strong bets to make it and Sosa a shot.  Looking down the active player list I wouldn't put anyone else as a lock, especially when they are all over 100 away and 35+ outside of Ramirez (34).  The next guy other than A-Rod who is under 34 is Andruw Jones at 342, 29 years old with Vladmir on his tail at age 30 with 338.  Both good candidates for 500 but not 600.

Btw, my betting is all the steroid talk will die off by 2015 as genetic 'fixes' start appearing more and more, making the use of drugs seem benign in comparison.

Mick Doherty - Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 03:58 PM EST (#162929) #

If A-Rod finishes this season with 500, and plays 8 more seasons averinging 20 HR per, he passes Aaron.

I was an English major and my math skills suck, but doesn't that only put him at 660, meaning a tie with Mays in fourth place? If he averages 30 a year over eight (starting from 500), he's still short of Aaron by 15!

Mike Green - Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 04:09 PM EST (#162930) #
Context really matters.  Sam Crawford was a terrific power hitter.  As was Fred McGriff. 

In the 60s, the thing was batting average.  Every week, the newspaper had a listing of every qualifying hitter in each league, sorted by batting average, with their hits, at-bats, homers, runs and RBIs.  It had a fascination for me then.  Now, it's just an interesting historical anomaly. In the 00s-10s, it looks like it will be career homer totals.

Mick Doherty - Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 04:38 PM EST (#162933) #

WillRain, that's an interesting list. Most of your projections are reasonable, though I think generally optimistic -- it's that last one that threw me, though. Ortiz is 31 this season and 319 homers short of 550 ... you really think he can average 40 homers a year until he's almost 40?

I see him ending up at about 330 -- both in career homers and in unofficial final season playing weight.

Fawaz - Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 04:57 PM EST (#162934) #
With 250 at age 27 he may be too far off to make a projection, but I expect to see Albert Pujols on that list in ten years.
TamRa - Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 05:02 PM EST (#162935) #

Yeah, I was thinking Mays and typing Aaron. After this season, he needs about 255 to reach Aaron. 26 per over 10 years, 32 per over 8 years, etc. My giving him a total of 775 assumes he moves to 1B or something late in his career and keep up the chase.

something like  38, 34, 36, 36, 35, 32, 30, 27, 22, 15 wouldn't be unrealistic and is way more than enough for my prediction.


TamRa - Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 05:13 PM EST (#162937) #

319 short of 550 at 31 means he needs to average 32 per for 10 years. Being a DH with no health issues, he should have a long career and I see two to three more major years before becoming more ordinary.

So, as a guess....

(31) 231 + 45 = 276

(32) 276 + 44 = 320

(33) 320 + 40 = 360

(34) 360 + 35 = 395 (essentially where Delgado is now)

(35) 395 + 35 = 430

(36) 430 + 32 = 462

(37) 462 + 32 = 494 (you'll notice these projections are less than the sort of power Frank is hitting with at this age)

(38) 494 + 30 = 526

(39) 526 + 25 = 551

Assuming a long and healthy career, at current ability level, 550 is no stretch.


TamRa - Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 05:19 PM EST (#162938) #

Yeah, heck yeah. i knew I was forgetting someone. I was going by the leader list on BR. Actually, there may be someone else besides Pujols I'm not thinking of that ought to be mentioned.

Certainly though, in ten healthy years Pujols should easily be north of 550.

Rob - Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 05:44 PM EST (#162940) #
Four years go by so fast.
Greg - Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 07:51 PM EST (#162941) #

I don't know what is sadder in that thread...the idea of Ron Gant hitting 500 home runs, or the fact that a Josh Phelps 500 home run watch was suggested that was even 0.00001% serious.

If Lind similarly becomes a joke 3 years from now I think I will shrivel up into a ball and cry for 6 months.
Someone reassure me on this count!

Magpie - Friday, February 02 2007 @ 06:07 AM EST (#162943) #
As some of you may recall, I looked at this very issue with my usual excess of detail back in July - at that time, I identified 10 active players who I expected would make it past 500 career homers, and provided a glimpse of what the list the Top 25 home run hitters of all time will look like in about fifteen years (it goes to Frank Thomas with about 520, meaning there will be more on the list than 25.)

My ten guys were Rodriguez, Pujols, A. Jones, Ramirez, Thome, Sheffield, Thomas, Guerreo, Delgado, and Beltran. I think Beltran is the only guy who is a dark horse - the others should be automatic. And I don't know what I was thinking when I omitted Miguel Cabrera.

Guys I dismissed as not even worthy of consideration: Abreu, Soriano, Ortiz. I had good reasons for this!

I wouldn't consider the prospects of anyone who had played less than 400 games, so Ryan Howard and David Wright weren't even on my radar screen.

Pistol - Friday, February 02 2007 @ 11:57 AM EST (#162949) #
Every week, the newspaper had a listing of every qualifying hitter in each league sorted by batting average

Most still do.  And I always found it funny that team pitching was sorted by ERA but team hitting was sorted by BA.
TamRa - Friday, February 02 2007 @ 01:42 PM EST (#162955) #

The problem with Kurkjian's column....and the the deadline. Aside from the trivial observation that McGriff did not, after all, make it to 500, the whole discussion of the persuit of others trying to reach that mark turns on Kurkjian's unwise setting of a date.

Igor didn't make it at all, nor did (of course) Gallaraga, Williams, Vaughn, or Burks.

Looking at the next 11 guys, our writer mentions that A-Rod, Thome, and MAYBE Ramirez will make it to 500.  All these look like good bets now. On the other hand, he dismisses the rest which include Thomas (seems virtually certain, barring a career ending injury) and Sheffield (who's in good shape now to collect 45 over the next few years) as having ANY shot deadline aside.

So, just as Kurkjian speaks with too much optimism, Doherty is, perhaps, a bit pessimistic (except in regards to A-Rod). In the end, Kurkjian saw only two of his four make it that season, and one the next. But the projection of 30 members in the 500 club was not wrong, just the nonsensical claim of seeing it be 2004. In that, he was as much as a decade too optomistic.

But, barring injury, Thomas, Thome, Ramirez, Sheffield, Rodruigez, should all make it by the end of 2008, and Delgado, Andruw Jones, Vlad, and Pujols are all well situated to do so within some five years thereafter. And David Ortiz may very well maintain a pace to join that club somewhere 7-10 years from now.

So "The Club" goes from 15 members in 2000 to 30 members by ... 2015?

I can see why the purests would grumble.

SheldonL - Friday, February 02 2007 @ 02:21 PM EST (#162961) #

I think that we're just experiencing the wave of some remarkable players(arguably, one could throw in that dirty words sarting with an "s" but let's pretend not to for argument's sake). Guys like Thome,  Thomas, A-Rod, Manny Ramirez, Guerrero, Andruw Jones, and Pujols look like locks to hit 500. I'm not sold on the 39 year old Sheffield who is 45 homers away. I don't know about a 35 year Delgado who is 93 away. He's often stated that the contract he signed with the Marlins could be his last. That means he's got just two years left.

Miguel Cabrera is very intriguing because at age 24, he's already got 104 homers. If he were to average 30 homers a year for the next 10 years, he would have 404 homers at age 34. It's hard to project this because there's always the possibility of injury or regression as we've seen in Juan Gonzalez.

Adam Dunn is my darkhorse. He's got 198 at age 27. So if he were to average 30 homers until the age of 35, he would have  468. Surely, he's going to hit 40 a few times along the way, bumping that 468 closer and closer to 500.

Regardless, I think 500 will still be magical. According to these optimistic projections, there would 29 guys with 500 homers. Nowadays, pitchers are so much better and most hitting prospects don't reach the majors until 24 or 25. Leaving them with approzimately a 12-14 year career(retirement at 36/37-38/39). They would have to average 35 a year in a 12 year career or 41 a year in a 14 year career. By recent approximations, about 10 hitters eclipse the 40 homer mark. It would take a pretty special player to maintain such prominance consistently in a 12-14 year career.

Of course, there will be hitters who make it to the majors before 24 years of age and who can hit 30 homers right away(like Dunn, Pujols, Cabrera) but those will be the special players of their era; the kind of players worthy of joining the 500 homer club. These are the kind of guys that we'll be telling our grandkids about. Yes, guys like Papi and Hafner will show up in their late 20's/early 30's but longevity will keep them from this great pinnacle of 500 homers. Have no fear, 500 is not the new 600.

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The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.