A complete list of every 50-homer season

September 29th, 2019

Fifty home runs in a season is quite the accomplishment. There have been just 46 50-homer seasons in Major League history. The story of 50-homer seasons begins with the Live Ball Era, in 1920, when Babe Ruth hit 54. In fact, nobody other than Ruth hit 50 or more homers until 1930, when Hack Wilson hit 56.

Which team has had the most 50-homer seasons from its players? That would be the Yankees, with nine. They’re the only team to have multiple players with 50 or more homers in a single season, when Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle did it in 1961. The most 50-homer hitters across the Majors in a single season is four, in 2001 and 1998.

Here’s a list of every 50-homer season in Major League history, in reverse chronological order.

Pete Alonso, NYM, 2019 (53 homers): Alonso hit his 50th homer with about a week left in the regular season, putting a round number on a season full of records. He's the only player to hit 50 or more home runs in the season in which he made his Major League debut, and when he connected for his 53rd on Sept. 28, he broke the MLB rookie home run record, too (Aaron Judge, 52, 2017).

Giancarlo Stanton, MIA, 2017 (59 homers): He won the NL MVP Award while hitting the most homers in a season since 2001, when Barry Bonds set the single-season record with 73 and Sammy Sosa swatted 64.

Aaron Judge, NYY, 2017 (52 homers): Judge’s 52 home runs set the single-season record for rookies, and he was the first -- and until Alonso in 2019, only -- rookie to ever hit 50 home runs.

Chris Davis, BAL, 2013 (53 homers): Davis’ was the second 50-homer season in Orioles franchise history, besting the previous franchise mark of 50 set by Brady Anderson in 1996.

José Bautista, TOR, 2010 (54 homers): Bautista entered the 2010 season with 59 career homers in 575 career games with the Orioles, Devil Rays, Royals, Pirates and Blue Jays. Then he hit 54 in 2010 in 161 games, almost doubling his career total.

Alex Rodriguez, NYY, 2007 (54 homers): Rodriguez had three 50-homer seasons in his career, but the 2007 iteration was the only one of those to yield an MVP award to go along with it. He hit 54 homers, drove in 156 runs, slugged .645 and got all but two of the first-place votes for AL MVP.

Prince Fielder, MIL, 2007 (50 homers): Fielder broke the single-season franchise record of 45, which had been set by Gorman Thomas in 1979 and subsequently tied by Richie Sexson in 2001 and 2003. Fielder’s remains the only 50-homer season in Brewers history, though Christian Yelich (44 homers) was on pace to at least match it until a fractured kneecap ended his 2019 season.

Ryan Howard, PHI, 2006 (58 homers): Howard’s follow-up to his 2005 rookie campaign couldn’t have gone much better at the plate, where he hit 58 homers and drove in 149 runs. He won MVP honors for his efforts and outpaced the prior franchise record by 10 homers.

David Ortiz, BOS, 2006 (54 homers): Ortiz hit 541 career homers and 2006 was his most prolific year. He hit a career-high 54 home runs to lead the AL. He finished third in AL MVP voting, behind Justin Morneau and Derek Jeter.

Andruw Jones, ATL, 2005 (51 homers): Jones’ career-high and Major League-leading 51 homers in 2005 coincided with his best MVP finish. He came in second behind Albert Pujols for the NL’s award that year.

Alex Rodriguez, TEX, 2002 (57 homers): Rodriguez’s 57 home runs in 2002 were a career high and led the Majors. He also knocked in a Major Leading-leading 142 runs. Rodriguez had 8.8 WAR that year, though that was before it would’ve been part of any awards discussions. That was 3.2 more than Miguel Tejada, who won the AL MVP, while Rodriguez finished second.

Jim Thome, CLE, 2002 (52 homers): The Hall of Famer had 612 career home runs, including 14 seasons with at least 25 homers and nine seasons with at least 35. He reached 40 homers six times. But he reached 50 only once, in 2002, when he hit 52. Thanks to Rodriguez’s total, Thome didn’t even lead the AL.

Barry Bonds, SF, 2001 (73 homers): Bonds is the all-time home run record holder with 762, but he had just one season with 50 or more. It was 2001, when he set the single-season record for home runs with 73, breaking Mark McGwire’s record of 70 from 1998.

Sammy Sosa, CHC, 2001 (64 homers): Sosa had four 50-homer seasons in his career, tied with McGwire and Ruth for most of any player. The 2001 season was his final one and as in three of the four 50-homer seasons, he didn’t just hit 50, he reached 60, too.

Alex Rodriguez, TEX, 2001 (52 homers): Rodriguez is one of just five individuals to post back-to-back 50-homer seasons. The others? Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey Jr. and Babe Ruth. Pretty good company.

Luis Gonzalez, ARI, 2001 (57 homers): Gonzalez's 57 homers in 2001 didn't even sniff the Major League lead, but it was a career year for Gonzalez, whose season culminated in a World Series title. He finished third in NL MVP voting behind Bonds and Sosa.

Sammy Sosa, CHC, 2000 (50 homers): Of Sosa’s four 50-homer seasons, this was the one time when Sosa led the Majors -- even though it was the lowest of his four 50-plus home run totals. Sosa also hit 38 doubles in 2000, a career-high mark.

Mark McGwire, STL, 1999 (65 homers): A season after setting the single-season home run record that would stand until 2001, McGwire followed up with another big season -- this time hitting 65 homers, five short of his own record from 1998.

Sammy Sosa, CHC, 1999 (63 homers): Sosa played in all 162 games in 1999, but fell two homers short of tying McGwire for the Major League lead.

Greg Vaughn, SD, 1998 (50 homers): Vaughn’s 50 home runs led him to the only Silver Slugger award of his career, along with a fourth-place NL MVP finish. He also totaled a career-high 119 RBIs and tied his career high with 28 doubles.

Ken Griffey Jr., SEA, 1998 (56 homers): While he didn’t reach into the 60s the way McGwire and Sosa did in 1998, Griffey was still another strong offensive performer in that homer-heavy season. His 56 home runs matched his total from the year before, with those two seasons standing as his career highs.

Mark McGwire, STL, 1998 (70 homers): Roger Maris’ single-season record of 61 homers had stood since 1961, when he broke Ruth’s 1927 record of 60. But that record was no match for McGwire in 1998, who hit 70 home runs to set a single-season record. Sosa surpassed Maris’ mark, too, with 66.

Sammy Sosa, CHC, 1998 (66 homers): Sosa’s 66 home runs in 1998 were a career high, and at the time, it was the first time he’d ever hit more than 40. He didn’t lead the Majors in home runs -- that belonged to McGwire, above -- but Sosa led the Majors in RBIs with 158 and runs scored with 134, combining it all into an NL MVP award, the only one he’d win in his career.

Ken Griffey Jr., SEA, 1997 (56 homers): Griffey’s first of two 50-homer seasons was also his MVP award-winning year, when he had 147 RBIs and a .646 slugging percentage in addition to the 56 long balls. His MVP award was unanimous, as he got all 28 first-place votes in the AL.

Mark McGwire, OAK/STL, 1997 (58 homers): Like Sosa’s, McGwire’s four 50-homer seasons were consecutive. But McGwire’s 1997 season holds the distinction of being the only 50-homer season by a player who changed teams that year. McGwire hit 34 for the A’s before a July 31 trade to the Cardinals, then hit 24 for St. Louis to finish up the season.

Brady Anderson, BAL, 1996 (50 homers): The 1996 season was special for Anderson, who never hit more than 24 home runs in any other season of his career and had never hit more than 21 before 1996.

Mark McGwire, OAK, 1996 (52 homers): McGwire’s first 50-homer season was the lowest total of each of them, but it was a strong offensive season across the board. He led the Majors with 52 homers and led the Majors in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, too.

Albert Belle, CLE, 1995 (50 homers): Belle led the Majors in 1995 with 50 home runs, as well as leading everyone in doubles with 52 and slugging percentage at .690. That earned him the highest MVP finish of his career -- second, behind Mo Vaughn in the AL. Belle received just one fewer first-place vote than Vaughn, in a closely contested vote.

Cecil Fielder, DET, 1990 (51 homers): Fielder was the Majors’ first player with 50 or more homers since 1977, and led the Majors in RBIs with 132 and slugging percentage at .592 to go along with it. He finished second in AL MVP voting to Rickey Henderson.

George Foster, CIN, 1977 (52 homers): Foster’s 50-homer season was the only one in Reds history entering 2019. It was also his NL MVP year, when he drove in 149 runs, slugged .631 and added on 31 doubles and two triples to total 85 total extra-base hits.

Willie Mays, SF, 1965 (52 homers): Mays’ career-high 52 home runs went hand-in-hand with his second career NL MVP award. He hit .317, slugging .645 and notched 21 doubles and 112 RBIs. His 52 home runs came 10 seasons after his first 50-homer season.

Mickey Mantle, NYY, 1961 (54 homers): Mantle’s 54 homers didn’t lead the Majors in 1961 because his teammate Maris hit 61. It’s the only time in Major League history that teammates hit 50 homers in the same season.

Roger Maris, NYY, 1961 (61 homers): Ruth’s single-season record of 60 home runs was set in 1927, and until 1961, it was the only 60-homer season in Major League history. That is, until Maris came along and hit 61 to set a single-season record that itself would stand until 1998. Maris won the AL MVP award, his second straight such honor, for his efforts.

Mickey Mantle, NYY, 1956 (52 homers): Mantle’s 52 homers, 130 RBIs, .353 batting average and .705 slugging percentage all led the Majors in 1956. That earned him his first of three career AL MVP awards, and he won it by getting all 24 first-place votes.

Willie Mays, NYG, 1955 (51 homers): Mays turned 24 in May of the 1955 season, when he hit 51 home runs in his second year back from military service, after hitting 41 in 1954. In addition to leading the Majors in homers, he also led in triples with 13. He finished fourth in NL MVP voting to Roy Campanella, but modern stats tell us that Campanella had 5.2 WAR that year, while Mays led NL position players with 9.1.

Ralph Kiner, PIT, 1949 (54 homers): Kiner tied for at least the National League lead in home runs in seven straight seasons to start his career -- leading the Majors outright in some of those seasons, too. The 1949 season was his crown jewel, 54 homers to lead the Majors, 127 RBIs and a .657 slugging percentage.

Ralph Kiner, PIT, 1947 (51 homers): Kiner hit 51 homers in 1947 in just his second Major League season. At the time, he was the only player in Major League history with a 50-homer season within his first two big league years -- he has since been joined by Judge, who did so in his rookie year in 2017, which was his second Major League season overall, and Alonso, in 2019 in his rookie season and first year in the bigs.

Johnny Mize, NYG, 1947 (51 homers): Mize shared the home run title in 1947 with Kiner, hitting 51 for the Giants. He drove in a Major League-leading 138 runs and scored 137 on his own.

Hank Greenberg, DET, 1938 (58 homers): Before Greenberg hit 58 home runs in 1938, he’d never hit more than 40 in a season -- which he did the prior year, in 1937. He drove in 147 runs and led the Majors with 119 walks.

Jimmie Foxx, BOS, 1938 (50 homers): Foxx’s 50 homers and 175 RBIs in 1938 earned him the AL MVP Award. Foxx’s 175 RBIs that season rank as fourth-most in a single season since the stat became official in 1920, and each of those three seasons with more happened before 1938.

Jimmie Foxx, PHA, 1932 (58 homers): Foxx led the Majors with 58 homers in 1932 for the Philadelphia Athletics, also driving in 169 runs and hitting .364. He slugged .749 and had a whopping 1.218 OPS. He became the first AL player other than Ruth to hit 50 home runs in a season.

Hack Wilson, CHC, 1930 (56 homers): Wilson’s career-high 56 homers came with a Major League-leading RBI total of 191. Not only was that Wilson’s career high for RBIs, it was the ultimate high for RBIs. Since RBIs became official in 1920, no player has tallied more in a season than Wilson’s 191. The next-most is 185 by Lou Gehrig in 1931. Wilson also had the distinction of becoming the first Major League player other than Ruth to hit 50 or more homers in a season.

Babe Ruth, NYY, 1928 (54 homers): Ruth’s final 50-homer season was as a 33-year-old in 1928, when he hit 54. The most home runs he’d total in any subsequent season was 49, in 1930 at age 35.

Babe Ruth, NYY, 1927 (60 homers): Ruth’s 60 home runs in 1927 stood as the standard until Maris’ 1961 season. Ruth didn’t just hit 60 that year -- he scored 158 runs, drove in 165 and walked 137 times. He had a .772 slugging percentage, in a year where only Ruth and Gehrig (.765) slugged above .645.

Babe Ruth, NYY, 1921 (59 homers): By position player WAR, Ruth’s 1921 season was his second-best, with 12.9 WAR, second only to his 14.1 in 1923. He slugged .846, the second-highest mark of his career behind an .847 slugging percentage just a year earlier in 1920.

Babe Ruth, NYY, 1920 (54 homers): In 1920, Ruth set the initial standard, though it wouldn’t stand for long, as he would surpass his own total the following year and again in 1927. But in 1920, he was the first player ever to hit 50 in a season. Entering 1920, the single-season Major League record was 29 home runs by Ruth in 1919, before the Live Ball Era began in 1920.