By Andrew Kahn
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball set a record for home runs in a season, when Alex Gordon belted the 5,694th long ball of the year, breaking the previous high mark set in 2000. Here’s a look at how we got there (all stats through Tuesday’s games).
Giancarlo Stanton has done more than anyone to contribute to the record, hitting 56 homers. He clubbed 18 in August alone, during which he hit 11 bombs in a 12-game stretch. His 53rd broke a camera and his latest smacked the Marlins sculpture.
Aaron Judge leads the American League with 44 taters. He’s the Sultan of Statcast, holding the season highs for exit velocity—121 mph on a homer on June 10—and home run distance, a 495-foot blast the next day. Surprisingly, his third-deck dinger at Citi Field was measured at just 457 feet. By exit velocity, Judge has the four hardest-hit homers of the year.
Another rookie, Cody Bellinger, has 38 round-trippers, part of a season record for cumulative rookie homers (according to ESPN). In total, nine rookies have at least 20 bleacher burners and more are likely to join them.
Gordon and Albert Pujols are among the worst everyday players in baseball this year, but they’re both a special part of this record. Gordon, as previously mentioned, hit the record-setter, and Pujols connected for his 600th career homer earlier this season.
There were other individual milestones that contributed to the unprecedented big fly barrage: Nelson Cruz, Curtis Granderson, Matt Holliday, and Ryan Braun reached 300 career homers (Robinson Cano is at 299 through Tuesday); Brandon Phillips, Andrew McCutchen, and Mark Trumbo got to 200; and Jose Abreu, Logan Morrison, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Charlie Blackmon, Daniel Murphy, Josh Reddick, Jacoby Ellsbury, Trevor Plouffe, Luis Valbuena, and Howie Kendrick reached the century mark.
Pitchers got in on the act, including one of the most unlikeliest sluggers, Jon Lester, who hit his first career four-bagger on the same night he notched 2,000 career strikeouts. It wasn’t on the same level as Bartolo Colon’s blast last year, but Colon has allowed 25 ding dongs this season. The “leaders” in that category are Rick Porcello and Ariel Miranda, who have both allowed 35.
Sometimes, players have gone yard without leaving it. Michael Taylor hit an inside-the-park grand slam earlier this month. Adam Rosales runs as if he’s trying for the feat even when he clears the fence. Scooter Gennett and J.D. Martinez didn’t have to run at all when they hit four home runs in one game. It was only the second time in MLB history that it was done twice in the same season.
Yes, balls have flown over fences more than ever this year. Bernie Brewer has been busy in Milwaukee. Citi Field’s Apple has resembled an elevator in a New York City office. And the Miami marlins have spent so much time jumping out of the water it’s amazing they’re still alive. Despite the record-setting number of home runs, the Angels Baseball Foundation is still waiting for a $1 million donation from Sherwin-Williams. On Tuesday, Justin Upton put a ball into the paint can in left-center—on a bounce. Remember, though, there’s still more than a week left in the season. The sport can build on its home run record and set another—for most strikeouts in a season.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local. He writes about baseball and other sports at andrewjkahn.com and you can find his Scoop and Score podcast on iTunes. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn