Last night, Twins DH Jim Thome joined the exclusive group of 600 career home run club . Thome, who hit numbers 599 and 600 last night against the Detroit Tigers, needed the second fewest at bats to reach the mark.
Thome, who has played for 5 different teams over his baseball career, most notably the Cleveland Indians for the first half of it, became just the 8th player to ever hit 600 homers. Who are the other 7 on the list? Guys by the names of Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa. It’s obviously an impressive list to be a part of, but how impressive is this feat Thome achieved last night?
Very impressive! Sure, I could say that argument considering there have been more than 17,000 Major League players since the time baseball started in the late 1800’s and only 8 have ever hit this mark. Quite a ratio to be a part of. But let’s take it another way. Since 1876 when baseball was first really played, there were 3 guys who hit 600 home runs in a matter of 95 years. Babe Ruth was the first in 1931. Willie Mays in 1969. And Hank Aaron did it in 1971. Since 1971, the other 5 have done it. However, it’s really been less than that. The 5 others who have achieved the milestone have all done it in a matter of 9 years since Barry Bonds hit his in 2002. So in otherwards, 3 men did it in 95 years while 5 others did it in a matter of 9 years. Think the game of baseball hasn’t changed much?
And not only that, but because the home run has become such a vital part of baseball today, how many more people may join Thome in the future? Albert Pujols? He’s 31 years old and has 437 currently. Adam Dunn? He’s 31 and has 365. Mark Teixeira? He has 307 and is 31 years old. Ryan Howard? He’s 31 and has 279 homers. Or Miguel Cabrera? He’s 28 and has 270 homers. There’s a lot of time, but theoretically, every one of these guys is close or on pace to hitting 600 homers if they play another 10-12 years. That would be another 5 or 6 members in 10 years possible making it a staggering 1o guys hitting 600 homers in a matter of 20 years.
Even with all of that, there is no doubt that Thome’s accomplishment should be applauded and congratulated, especially having never been accused of any performance-enhancing drugs during his career in what has been the years of the steroid cloud hanging over everyone.