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Leader Watch: 'Cruz' controls HR destiny

Stanton on pace to hit 63 homers in 2017
MLB.com

Giancarlo Stanton's home run rampage somehow gets more amazing by the day. The Marlins slugger is turning every at-bat into a must-see, and the possibility of him chasing down some of baseball's most historic home run marks is looking thrillingly real.

On Sunday, "Cruz" did what has long seemed inevitable: He hit No. 50, just the 44th time in Major League history a player has hit 50 home runs. And it is still August.

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Giancarlo Stanton's home run rampage somehow gets more amazing by the day. The Marlins slugger is turning every at-bat into a must-see, and the possibility of him chasing down some of baseball's most historic home run marks is looking thrillingly real.

On Sunday, "Cruz" did what has long seemed inevitable: He hit No. 50, just the 44th time in Major League history a player has hit 50 home runs. And it is still August.

View Full Game Coverage

Video: Must C Clutch: Stanton's 50th puts Marlins ahead

Stanton became the first 50-home-run hitter since Chris Davis hit 53 for the Orioles in 2013. Stanton is the first right-handed hitter to hit 50 homers since Jose Bautista hit 54 for the Blue Jays in 2010. And he is the first National Leaguer to reach the 50-home-run plateau in a decade -- the last was Prince Fielder, who hit 50 homers for the Brewers in 2007.

But Stanton has reached 50 far sooner than any of those three players. Davis hit his 50th home run in 2013 on Sept. 13. Bautista's in 2010 came on Sept. 23. Fielder's in 2007 came Sept. 25.

Video: SD@MIA: Stanton talks reaching 50-homer mark

Stanton's 50th? August 27. That's more than two weeks earlier than Davis', more than three weeks before Joey Bats', and more than four weeks before Fielder's. Stanton has more than a month to go.

The Marlins have played 129 games, leaving Stanton 33 more to work his magic. He is on pace for 63 homers. If he reaches 63, he would be just the fourth Major Leaguer to surpass Roger Maris' 61-homer mark in 1961, along with Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds.

This is no longer about just a personal best. Stanton shattered that Aug. 8 with his 38th homer. Nor is it about the Marlins franchise mark -- Stanton passed Gary Sheffield's two-decades-old record of 42 on Aug. 14. What's left for Stanton is, potentially, to join some of the sport's all-time greats.

This is the full list of players to hit 50 or more home runs in their team's first 129 games of a season:

  • Barry Bonds: 55, 2001
  • Sammy Sosa: 54, 1999
  • Mark McGwire: 51, 1999; 52, 1998
  • Babe Ruth: 51, 1921
  • Roger Maris: 51, 1961
  • Giancarlo Stanton: 50, 2017

In 1998, McGwire won the home run race against Sosa and became the first Major Leaguer to hit 70 in a season. Bonds would break that record with 73 in 2001.

Those other five players are legends of the long ball. Stanton has plenty of time to take a place alongside them.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton