Barry Bonds Is Not the Home Run Leader in the Hearts of Many

Not even to Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 59 home runs last year.

In the 2017 season, Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins knocked in 59 home runs, the most in the Major Leagues in more than 15 years. He hit number 59 with a few games left in the season and was hoping to hit more.

He wanted to reach 62 home runs, but didn’t get another before the season ended.

Stanton’s 59 home runs were the most since Barry Bonds hit 73 in 2001, which established a new, and the current, home run record. Barry Bonds’ achievement surpassed the 70 home runs hit by Mark McGwire in 1998. McGwire’s 70 broke Roger Maris’s record of 61 home runs hit in 1961.

But Stanton wasn’t thinking about Bonds’ record—he was think about Maris’s former record of 61. (More on that later.)

Here are a few related home run facts to make note of:

  • Sammy Sosa of the Cubs hit 66 homers in ’98
  • The next year (’99), McGwire hit 65, Sosa 64
  • When Bonds hit his 73 in ’01, Sosa hit 64

Why does this matter?

Because as almost all baseball fans know, Bonds, McGwire and Sosa each have had their reputations tarnished because of reputed usage of performance-enhancing drugs. They hit all their dingers within that same stretch of years known as the “steroid era."

That’s why many fans are not willing to accept in their hearts and minds the home run records of McGwire and Bonds.

And deep down in his heart, neither does Giancarlo Stanton.

He even said as much.

Personal opinion.

While he was closing in on 60, Stanton was thinking more about the 61 home runs hit by Maris. But he had to admit, reluctantly, that Bonds did knock 73 home runs over the fences.

He was quoted by the Sun Sentinel, the South Florida newspaper, about it all: “…it doesn’t matter. The record is the record. But, personally, I do [think 61 is the record].” And Giancarlo continued talking like an ordinary baseball fan that follows the game, not a slugger chasing a record: “You grow up watching [the movie] ‘Sandlot.’ You grow up watching those films of Babe Ruth and [Mickey] Mantle and these guys and 61 always been that printed number as a kid.”

Of course, Stanton knew that it was just speculation, that if he didn’t reach 62 home runs, it was all talk. “Come back when I [hit more],’’ he said. “I’m taking it one at a time.”

Maybe Stanton was just happy to be flirting with 60, 61 and 62. After all, he was a lot closer to those numbers than 73.


So, Giancarlo Stanton and perhaps other MLB players, former players, baseball writers—and maybe even you—feel that the steroid-era users’ achievements should have an asterisk put next to the records, or that they should be obliterated.

It hasn’t happened yet. And probably won’t.

The game keeps changing.

  • There are plenty of reasons for people to get worked up about players who seemingly benefited from PEDs during the steroid era. However, most people generally talk about the game in the following way:
  • As if the game has always been pure and fair. (It hasn’t.)
  • As if the players in the ’20s and every decade since played against the same level of talent. (They didn’t.)
  • As if the bats and balls and pitching mounds and strike zones and diets and ballparks and travel schedules and training and rules of the game (how about the designated hitter?) haven’t changed. (They have.)

Baseball has changed and continues to change. And no one can say for sure how it has affected home run output.

The sultans of swat.

Bonds and Ruth achieved numbers that seemed unreal, and even looked unreal.

  • In 1997, Bonds hit 40 home runs. Four seasons later, he hit 73…33 more. That’s an 82% increase.
  • In 1919, Ruth hit 29 homers. Three seasons later, he would hit 54…25 more, an 86% increase.

Everyone suspects or believes Bonds started using PEDs and that it’s the explanation for his jump in output.

How did Ruth fuel his explosion? Hot dogs and beer?

Who knows!

Bonds’ name still tops the list.

At the end of it all, Giancarlo Stanton’s opinions don’t change the record books.

Barry Bonds is the all-time record holder for single-season home runs AND career home runs. You could look it up—there are no asterisks by his name.

And that’s all there is to it.

In August of last year, an article by Matt Snyder of CBS Sports told baseball fans to simply accept that fact.

“Don’t be a whiner. Just accept that Barry Bonds is the single-season and career home run record holder. He is. Those things happened — 73 times and 762 times, respectively. Sorry, I’m not sorry.”

Giancarlo and juiced baseballs.

There were more home runs hit in 2017 than in any other season in MLB history. Some say the ball was juiced in some way, though everyone from the Commissioner to the baseball manufacturer said nothing has changed.

But something was going on…. Did it help Giancarlo increase his home run output?

In 2014, he hit 37 home runs. Then comes the 2017 season, and he belts 59. That’s 22 more and about a 60% increase.

That’s baseball for you.
Matt Snyder, CBS News: “Time to just accept that the single-season home run record belongs to Barry Bonds.” August 25, 2017