There’s a classic Nike commercial from 1999, where Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine come to the conclusion that “Chicks dig the long ball.” It turns out, so do guys. Throughout all of baseball history, the best home run hitters are constantly debated amongst fans and the media. While there are so many to chose from, here is a list of the best home run hitters in MLB history.
Barry Bonds may have played at the height of the steroid era, but he was facing pitchers that were just as juiced as he was. Bonds ended his career with the most home runs in Major League Baseball history, with 762. From 1992-2004, Bonds did not hit less than 33 home runs in any season. Bonds has 8 seasons where he hit 40+ home runs. In 2001, Bonds hit 73 regular season home runs, the most in single-season history. Remarkably, Bonds only led the league in home runs twice during his career (1993 and 2001). Bonds is third in MLB history in at bats per home run, with 12.92 (AB/HR).
Hank Aaron hit 755 home runs throughout his career, the second-most in MLB history (behind Bonds). Aaron hit 40+ home runs 8 different seasons during his career. He led the majors in home runs during 4 different seasons. Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s 39 year home run record when he surpassed him in 1974.
This Babe Ruth character hit 714 home runs over the course of his career, at a time when nobody hit home runs. Ruth was a full-time hitter by 1918, and by the time he turned 25 in 1920, he was the all-time home run leader. Ruth passed Roger Connor, who had held the home run record since 1896. When Ruth retired in 1935 with 714 home runs, the second place leader was Lou Gehrig with 378 dingers. Ruth led the league in homers 12 times throughout his career. Ruth hit 50+ homers 4 times in his career, maxing out at 60, the single season record that stood until 1961. Ruth is second all time in at bats per home run, with 11.76.
While throughout his career it looked like he was going to surpass Hank Aaron in home runs, A-Rod ended his career with 696 home runs, just 18 short of Babe Ruth. A-Rod hit 40+ homers 5 times in his career and hit 50+ homers 3 times. Rodriquez led the majors in homers 5 times throughout his career. If it wasn’t for injuries and suspensions late in his career, A-Rod would have definitely surpassed Hank Aaron’s 755 dingers.
Willie Mays of the San Fransisco Giants retired with 660 home runs, which at the time of his retirement was third in all-time home runs (behind Aaron and Ruth). Mays hit 50+ homers 2 times and 40+ homers 4 times. He led the majors in homers 3 seasons over his career.
Mark McGwire is the leader in MLB history in at bats per home run, with 10.61. McGwire hit 583 dingers over the course of his career. He broke the AL Rookie home run record when he hit 49 homers (later broken by Aaron Judge in 2017 with 52 homers) his first season. McGwire broke the single season home run record when he hit 70 home runs in 1998 (later broken by Barry Bonds in 2001). McGwire led the MLB in dingers 4 times throughout his career.
Sammy Sosa has 609 career home runs, currently 9th all-time. Sosa is the only player in MLB history to hit 60+ homers in a season 3 times (McGwire has 2).
Jim Thome has 612 career home runs, currently 8th all-time. Thome is 4th all-time in at bats per home run with 13.76, behind Bonds, Ruth, and McGwire. Thome hit 40+ home runs 6 seasons, maxing out at 52 dingers.