We’ve never seen a HR leaderboard like this

September 25th, 2021

There have been years in which multiple players reached the 60-homer plateau. There's been plenty of seasons when more players hit 40. But we’ve never seen a home run leaderboard quite like this.

Here’s how the top five looked entering Friday’s action:

The home run race could go down to the final day of the regular season, but this group has already made history. Here’s how:

1) They've never slugged like this before

The three players with 45-plus home runs this year -- Guerrero, Perez and Ohtani -- not only never reached 40 homers in a single season before 2021, they never hit 30, either.

According to Stats Perform, this is the first time that three players who had never previously reached the 30-homer plateau all hit 45 or more in the same year.

It’s easy to blame the pandemic-shortened season for limiting their home run opportunities, but there’s no guarantee Guerrero, Perez or Ohtani would have hit 30 in a 162-game season last year.

Perez would have had the best chance of getting there, as he blasted 11 dingers in 37 games. However, his career high over his first eight seasons was 27 homers, set in 2017 and ‘18, and it’s fair to wonder if he would have kept up his pace in his first season after missing all of ‘19 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Guerrero finished with nine homers over 60 games last year, bringing his career total to 24 through 183 games. Ohtani, meanwhile, spent most of the year as a DH-only player after a forearm strain ended his pitching season after two starts, but he only managed seven long balls in 44 games while slashing .190/.291/.366.

2) It's a global group

Baseball is a global game, and MLB’s diversity is reflected in the home run leaderboard. 

Among the top five home run hitters are two Dominicans (Guerrero and Tatis), a Venezuelan (Perez), a Japanese player (Ohtani) and a Black player born in the United States (Semien). 

Guerrero was actually born in Canada during his father’s tenure with the Montreal Expos, making this the first time that the first five players to reach 40 home runs in a season were all born in different countries, per another Stats Perform tweet.

3) Age-22 phenoms

A wave of exciting young stars has burst onto the scene in recent years, several of whom are already putting their stamp on the history books.

Of the 11 40-homer campaigns in AL/NL history by a player in his age-22 season or younger, three have come in the past three years -- one by (in 2019), one by Guerrero and one by Tatis. The only other time it happened this century was 2015, when smashed 42 big flies and won the NL MVP Award.

This list also includes Hall of Famers , , (twice) and Johnny Bench, two-time MVP and three-time MVP .

With Guerrero and Tatis both accomplishing the feat in 2021, it marks the first time that multiple age-22 or younger players have done it in the same year.

Guerrero and Tatis could make more history by the end of this season if they lead their respective league in home runs. While eight players have won a league home run crown before turning 23, it’s never happened in both leagues during the same year.

4) Positional variety

Another way the 2021 home run leaderboard is unique? Three of this year’s 40-homer hitters are at positions that haven’t historically been known for power.

Semien is one of five second basemen (min. 50% of games played at the position) to hit 40-plus homers in a single season, along with , , and .

There have been eight 40-homer seasons by catchers, with Perez’s total leading all backstops. Bench (twice), (twice), , and are the other catchers with at least one 40-homer season.

While A-Rod (six times) and (five times) padded the number of 40-homer campaigns at the shortstop position (13 overall), Tatis is just the fourth individual shortstop to hit 40 dingers in a season, joining those two and Rico Petrocelli.

Although Semien, Perez and Tatis aren't the first players at their respective positions to hit 40 home runs, this is the first time that a catcher, second baseman and shortstop have all socked 40 long balls in the same year. The 1999 (Rodriguez, Piazza) and 2003 (Rodriguez, Lopez) seasons were the only other years that had two of the three, and there was never a year prior to 2021 in which a catcher and a second baseman or a second baseman and a shortstop both went deep 40-plus times.

Then there's Ohtani, who is the first player to post a 40-homer season while also throwing 100-plus innings on the mound, just one of many unprecedented feats for the two-way superstar.