Christian Yelich launched home run number 14 on Saturday, a blistering start to this season that is much like the way he finished last year. After the jump, find out which other power hitters have followed a hot finish to one season with a hot start to the next.
Most of Yelich’s 36 round-trippers last season came after the All-Star Game so, to find players with similar finishes, I looked for the most home runs in a team’s final 60 games of the season. And, with this season closing in on the 30 game mark, that is the benchmark I’ll use for the start of the following campaign. So, here’s the list for the most home runs in those 90 games.
|43||Albert Belle (1995-96), Sammy Sosa (2001-02)|
|39||Babe Ruth (1927-28), Mark McGwire (1999-2000)|
|38||Christian Yelich (2018-19)|
|37||Willie Mays (1965-66), Ken Griffey Jr. (1997-98)|
|36||Mark McGwire (1997-98)|
|35||Alex Rodriguez (2002-03)|
|34||Rocky Colavito (1958-59), Mike Schmidt (1975-76), Ken Griffey Jr. (1996-97), David Ortiz (2005-06)|
|33||Babe Ruth (1929-30), Ted Kluszewski (1954-55), Manny Ramirez (1998-99), Rafael Palmeiro (1999-2000), Barry Bonds (1999-2000)|
|32||Babe Ruth (1920-21), Hank Aaron (1969-70), Sammy Sosa (1999-2000)|
The Brewers still have two more games before reaching 30, so Yelich could still move up this list, but probably not all the way to the top to join Belle and Sosa. Yelich’s 24 homers to close out 2018 are the most by any Brewer in the last 60 games of the season.
Few if any players have had as hot a season as Albert Belle in 1995, the year of his unique 50 doubles and 50 home runs, accomplished in a campaign of just 144 games. He was almost as good the next year with 48 HR and 47 doubles. Bell recorded a 31/12 split between the two seasons.
Sammy Sosa‘s shows up twice, in 1999-2000 and 2001-02. His home run totals for those four seasons were 63, 50, 64 and 49. Those first three seasons followed his career best mark of 66 in 1998, making a record four straight 50 HR seasons (tied with rival Mark McGwire), and three 60 home run campaigns (his record alone). Sosa’s splits were 23/9 (1999-2000) and 30/13 (2001-02).
Babe Ruth is the only player with three appearances on our list, in his first two seasons as a Yankee in 1920-21, in his top two seasons for total home runs in 1927-28, and finally in 1929-30. In 1920, Ruth obliterated his own single-season home record by more than doubling it, from 29 to 59, then followed it with 54 to dispel any notion that the prior season was a fluke. 1927 was Ruth’s 60 home run campaign, followed again by a 54 homer season. He didn’t hit 50 in 1929 or 1930, but still led his league with totals of 46 and 49. His splits were 20/12 (1920-21), 27/12 (1927-28) and 21/12 (1929-30).
Mark McGwire appears twice, in 1997-98 (58 and 70 HR, one shy of Sosa’s record 129 HR in consecutive seasons) and in 1990-2000 (65 and 32 HR). McGwire’s splits were 24/12 in 1997-98 and 28/11 in 1999-2000.
Willie Mays shows up with his career best 52 home run season in 1965. He followed that with 37 home runs in 1966, with a 27/10 split between those two campaigns.
Ken Griffey Jr. makes two appearances on the list, and is the only player to do so in consecutive seasons, in 1996-97 and 1997-98. Griffey fell one home run shy of 50 in 1996, but rectified that omission with career best totals of 56 the next two years. His splits were 20/14 followed by 25/12. The 1997-98 seasons were not just equal in home runs; Junior also posted identical totals for BB, SO and 3B, and almost identical marks (one off) for 2B and RBI.
Alex Rodriguez shows up with his career best 57 home runs in 2002, followed by 47 the next year, both league-leading totals. His split was 25/10.
Rocky Colavito is the youngest player on our list, just 24 when he he launched 41 home runs in 1958, followed by 42 the next year (becoming the first Indian to reach 40 twice). His split was 23/11.
Mike Schmidt was almost as young, with identical totals of 38 home runs at age 25-26 (and again at age 27). His split was 19/15.
David Ortiz makes the list in his top two home run seasons, with 47 bombs in 2005 and a league-leading 54 the next year. His split was 23/11.
Ditto for Ted Kluszewski with a league-leading 49 (then the Reds franchise record) in 1954 and 47 the next year. His split was 23/10.
Manny Ramirez had his first two 40 home run seasons in 1997 and 1998, posting a 24/9 split. Those were also his first two of nine consecutive 30 home run campaigns. Quiz: which two players (both on this list) share the record for most consecutive 30 home run seasons?
Rafael Palmeiro shows up in the the first two seasons of his second stint in Texas, but his first time in the Rangers’ new Ballpark (or is it Bandbox) in Arlington Stadium. Palmeiro launched 47 and 39 dingers with a 23/10 split.
Career home run leader Barry Bonds recorded round-trip totals of 34 (in only 102 games) and 49 (in only 143 games) in 1999-2000. His split was 22/11.
Hank Aaron is the oldest player to make the list, at age 35-36 in 1969-70 when he swatted 44 (his fourth season with that total, the first three league-leading) and 38 homers. His split was 18/14.