MLB's Top 10 Home Run Hitters of All Time
Nothing sends a baseball crowd into a frenzy quite like a home run. And when the biggest mashers step to the plate, fans are anxiously hoping to celebrate a ball clearing the fence.
Throughout the history of Major League Baseball, many players have become legends for their power-hitting ability. We're taking a trip down memory lane to highlight the top 10 of all time.
Although a few of the players have long been retired, several recent stars secured a place next to Hall of Famers before hanging up the cleats. Those include Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome and Ken Griffey Jr., while Albert Pujols remains active.
10. Frank Robinson
Once Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz retired, Frank Robinson's place at No. 10 became safe for at least a half-decade.
Miguel Cabrera, who at 35 has 463 homers, is the closest player with a realistic chance to catch Robinson. In 21 years with the Cincinnati Redlegs/Reds, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, California Angels and Cleveland Indians, he crushed 586 homers.
Robinson also accomplished something few can claim: He smacked a home run as a player-manager. In fact, not only was Robinson the first African American manager in MLB history, but he blasted one beyond the fence in that debut.
"I was kind of numb," Robinson said of the achievement, per Mike Peticca of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "It was a great moment."
9. Sammy Sosa
Sammy Sosa embarked on his MLB career with the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox, but it really took off once he headed to the North Side as a member of the Cubs.
From 1993 to 2004, Slammin' Sammy smacked at least 30 homers in every campaign except 1994 when the season-ending strike limited him to 105 games. Sosa twice paced the National League in the category, hitting 50 in 2000 and 49 in 2002.
Additionally, no other player has belted 60-plus homers in three seasons. He slugged a career-high 66 in 1998, added 63 the next year and sent 64 flying into the stands in 2001.
8. Jim Thome
After a three-year stretch including various cups of coffee with the Cleveland Indians, Jim Thome finally broke into the lineup during the strike-shortened 1994 season. Nevertheless, he'd successfully established himself as a major threat at the plate.
That '94 campaign was the first of 11 straight years with 20-plus homers, and Thome reached 30 in nine of those seasons.
The five-time All-Star peaked at 52 in 2002—his final season in Cleveland—before tying Alex Rodriguez for the major league lead with 47 with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2003. Thome also clubbed 34-plus three times for the White Sox as his career wound to a close.
Brief stays with the Minnesota Twins, Indians, Phillies and Orioles wrapped up Thome's 22-year, 612-homer tenure.
7. Albert Pujols
The only active player in the top 10, Albert Pujols has cranked 617 baseballs over the fence throughout an 18-year career.
It wasn't until the 13th round of the 1999 draft that the St. Louis Cardinals selected the slugger from the Dominican Republic. Pujols needed little time to adjust as he made his MLB debut two years later, hitting 37 homers and beginning a streak of 12 straight seasons with 30-plus.
Pujols launched his 600th career jack in June 2017, cranking a grand slam against the Minnesota Twins to reach the mark.
Should he play through his age-40 season in 2020, Pujols has a legitimate chance to reach No. 5 before retiring. His contract with the Angels runs through 2021.
6. Ken Griffey Jr.
Remembered for his trademark backward hat, Ken Griffey Jr. had a remarkably smooth swing that was pleasant to watch.
That is, unless you were playing or rooting for the opposition.
Griffey broke into the league in 1989 with the Seattle Mariners and even had a chance to play alongside a family member. On Sep. 14, 1990, Griffey and Ken Griffey Sr. became the first father-son duo in MLB history to hit back-to-back homers.
Had injuries not taken their toll in the latter half of his career, "The Kid" could've pushed for 700 dingers while a member of the Cincinnati Reds. But there was no shame in Griffey, who—after a brief stint with the White Sox—returned to Seattle before retiring, heading to the Hall at 630.
5. Willie Mays
Though younger fans may know Willie Mays for replays of his over-the-shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series, in his day, the "Say Hey Kid" was also the second-greatest power hitter ever.
As a New York Giants rookie in 1951, he knocked 20 baseballs out of the park. Since he was drafted by the United States Army and called into active duty, however, Mays only played 34 games in '52 and missed all of '53.
When he returned, Mays became a powerhouse.
From 1954 to 1966, Mays averaged 40 home runs per season, swatting 518 dingers in that span. The outfielder reached 40 six times—including two years with 50—and cruised to 660 during a 22-year career spent largely with the New York/San Francisco Giants.
4. Alex Rodriguez
Seattle boasted a legendary one-two punch with Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez in the 1990s. After sporadic appearances for two years, A-Rod joined the Mariners full-time in 1996 and proceeded to bash 184 long balls over the next five seasons.
He signed with the Rangers prior to the 2001 campaign and led the American League in homers in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Then, a trade sent Rodriguez to the New York Yankees, with whom he cranked 351 homers over an adventurous 13-year period (12 seasons).
A-Rod added two more AL-high outputs in 2005 and 2007. The full-season suspension in 2014 is a significant blemish on his resume, but Rodriguez bounced back with 33 homers the next year before retiring in August 2016.
The midseason exit kept A-Rod narrowly shy of the 700 benchmark, sending the slugger to the broadcast booth with 696 to his name.
3. Babe Ruth
The first historically great home run hitter, Babe Ruth had a remarkable 22-year career that began in the Dead Ball Era.
He managed just nine homers in 407 plate appearances from 1914-17. But once Ruth started crushing balls, he really didn't stop.
Famously traded from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees, he led the American League in homers 12 times—twice with Boston and the other 10 in New York. "The Great Bambino" belted 40-plus jacks 11 times, and no other player has more than eight such seasons.
Ruth ended his career with a then-record 714 home runs that stood for 39 years until the next man on this list passed him.
2. Hank Aaron
"Hammerin' Hank" Aaron was a model of consistency.
En route to a then-record 755 for his career, the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves legend swatted 20-plus homers in every season from 1955 through 1974. Aaron then concluded his playing days with 22 over two seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Most impressively, he climbed the leaderboard while never hitting more than 47 in a given year. Thanks to longevity and durability, though, Aaron steadily became the greatest baseball-basher of all time.
"As far as I'm concerned," Mickey Mantle once said, per the Baseball Hall of Fame, "Aaron is the best baseball player of my era. He is to baseball the last 15 years what Joe DiMaggio was before him. He's never received the credit he's due."
1. Barry Bonds
Bobby Bonds set a high bar with 332 career home runs. Who would've thought his son, Barry Bonds, would double that number?
Not only that, but the younger Bonds became the all-time leader in both single-season homers (73) and career (762)—along with intentional walks (688), since he was such a feared hitter.
Yes, speculation about performance-enhancing drugs still clouds his career. He was always a great hitter, though.
Bonds began his professional days with the Pittsburgh Pirates and belted 176 home runs over a seven-year period. He then headed to San Francisco, where he sent hundreds of baseballs into McCovey Cove—the part of San Francisco Bay just beyond the right-field wall.
Interestingly, Bonds paced the National League in homers just twice over his 22 years. But only Aaron and Rodriguez (15) had more 30-home-run seasons than Bonds (14), the most successful power hitter in MLB history.