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The watch for Jim Thome’s 600th HR and the first AL game to feature two players with 600 HRs

Posted by Andy on May 23, 2011

(Thanks a ton to reader Doug N. who wrote in with this idea and did all the research himself. Some of what I wrote below is verbatim from his email, so he deserves a co-writing credit in addition to a research credit.)

Jim Thome has been activated off the disabled list and sits 9 homers shy of 600 for his career. He will, in all likelihood, become the 8th member of the 600-HR club at some point this season or next. However, if he can do it by August 21st of this year, then there's a good chance we'll see the first AL game featuring two guys who have both achieved 600 career HR.

That date is the last game this year between the Twins and the Yankees, and the other 600-HR guy would be, of course, Alex Rodriguez.

Here are other notable first games (as best as Doug could find), involving various numbers of players having achieved various career HR milestones. Numbers in parentheses are career HR at conclusion of noted game.

Milestone # of Players Game Players
200 2 1927-06-24 PHILLIES: Wiliams (216) GIANTS: Hornsby (204)
3 1932-09-05 YANKEES: Gehrig (264), Ruth (651) ATHLETICS: Simmons (205)
4 1936-05-31 TIGERS: Goslin (225), Simmons (260) BROWNS: Bottomley (208), Hornsby (300)
5 1950-09-07 RED SOX: Doerr (206), Stephens (206), Williams (290) YANKEES: Mize (335), DiMaggio (341)
6 1961-08-08 DODGERS: Hodges (359), Snider (376) BRAVES: Thomas (215), Adcock (228), Aaron (248), Mathews (360)
300 2 1934-04-30 YANKEES: Gehrig (300), Ruth (689)
3 1934-05-28 YANKEES: Gehrig (311), Ruth (694) BROWNS: Hornsby (300)
4 1963-04-20 METS: Hodges (370), Snider (392) BRAVES: Aaron (300), Mathews (400)
5 1999-04-05 ORIOLES: Belle (332), Baines (348), Ripken (384) DEVIL RAYS: McGriff (358), Canseco (398)
6 2005-04-08 YANKEES: Sierra (302), Martinez (323), Rodriguez (382), Sheffield (416) ORIOLES: Palmeiro (551), Sosa (574)
400 2 1938-07-03 YANKEES: Gehrig (477) RED SOX: Foxx (402)
3 1964-06-11 GIANTS: Snider (406), Mays (424) BRAVES: Mathews (426)
4 2002-06-18 RANGERS: Gonzalez (401), Palmeiro (460) CUBS: McGriff (459), Sosa (475)
500 2 1945-08-05 GIANTS: Ott (502) PHILLIES: Foxx (531)
3 2005-06-10 ORIOLES: Palmeiro (559), Sosa (580) REDS: Griffey (511)
600 2 1971-04-27 GIANTS: Mays (633) BRAVES: Aaron (600)

This entry was posted on Monday, May 23rd, 2011 at 1:17 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

55 Responses to “The watch for Jim Thome’s 600th HR and the first AL game to feature two players with 600 HRs”

  1. Gosh, eight members of the 600-homer club? Wow. It used to be an awe-inspiring number with only three members, but these roids guys have ruined everything. Heck, 500 is practically meaningless now.

    Neat research by the way. I love those 1934 Yankees games.

  2. This article interested me when i saw Mays with more HR than Aaron when Hank hit his 600th. i realize at that point (1971) I am sure people had given up on Mays becoming the All-time HR champ (due to not reaching Ruth).

    But it made me wonder when/if Mays was seriously considered the next HR champ - I was thinking maybe around 1966 when he finished that season (37 yrs old) with 542 HR and Aaron was still 100 behind. Does anyone out there remember?

    This also made me think of another question...Did the fact that 1966-1968 were so "pitcher friendly" cost Mays a chance at Ruth's record...I doubt there were an additional 54 HRs in his bat but I thought it was interesting enough to put the thought out there. Of course for the conversation to matter at all, I guess one must have Aaron hit 0 additional HR in the stretched theory (since it is a "What if?" situation anyway), otherwise Hank's 714th would have come much sooner (causing him to beat Mays to the finish).

  3. Interesting that in the game with McGriff, Sosa, Palmeiro, and Gonzalez that McGriff was right there with those steroid using cheats. Never more than 37 homers, very consistent, it's a shame he's lost in the discussion of best hitters of the 90's...pretty much .300/.400/.500 with 30/100 for the decade.

  4. Wouldn't it have been nice to hit #2 in front of Ruth and Gehrig? :)

  5. I believe this game fulfills your criteria prior to the O's-Reds game.

    Bonds (675)
    Palmiero (536,537)

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL200406121.shtml

    The sum of the Career HR Totals achieved in this game comes out well north of 1700 (if you count both of Palmiero's HRs separately)

  6. And to ask my own post, #4, a question...has anyone ever done a study on what the #2 Yankee hitters during the Ruth/Gehrig heydays hit?

  7. @2
    Mays is three years older than Aaron. He was already 40 in 1971. The "what-if" scenario with him has to do with his military service which forced him to miss all of 1953 and most of 1952. Its not hard to imagine 54 more HR's coming out of those seasons. That had long affected peoples' projections though (if people did that sort of thing back then).

  8. @5.

    Sorry, Deal. Not sure I understand about that Giants/Os game. I see only two players there with 500 HR.

    Can you clarify?

  9. He's counting Palmeiro twice with the odd reason that Palmeiro was at both 536 and 537 homers during the game.

  10. @5.

    After Griffey's 2005 game against the Os, he was also involved in two other 500+ HR triumvirates during his short stint with the White Sox in 2008. Together with teammate Thome, he faced Frank Thomas and A-Rod that year.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/OAK/OAK200808170.shtml

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA200809150.shtml

  11. @3.

    Surely, we won't have to wait too much longer to see McGriff in the HOF.

  12. @5

    I was at that game! I remember thinking that it was probably quite rare to see two members of the 500HR club each hit one in the same game.

  13. @8 Thats my err.

    I didn't factor in the number of players colum.

    It remains the rare game where 3 HRs above #500 was hit.

  14. Largebill Says:

    Doug, Re #11, Actually it doesn't look very good for the Crime Dog getting in the HoF via the writers any time soon. His vote totals are not encouraging. 17.9 % last year. In next few years ballot will get crowded with many much better players.

  15. @12 - I was at gm as well, that is why I can recall it so quickly.

  16. @7--if we're playing "what if" due to military service, let's not forget Ted Williams, who lost almost 5 prime years due to WW II and Korea. He might be looking at 150+ extra home runs. And if he's that close, maybe he doesn't retire after '60, with his 29 dingers that year.

  17. Thought it had to be a mistake to see Hornsby stuck on 300 for over two years (1934 in the 200 section and 1936 in the 300 section) but his career was almost done and his numbers really started to thin out. He hit only one more in 1937 and finished with 301.

  18. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @11/ Doug Says: "@3. Surely, we won't have to wait too much longer to see McGriff in the HOF."

    Dave, if we do see McGriff in the HOF, it will be (at best) the sort of long slow slog towards 75%, like Tony Perez, Jim Rice, or Andre Dawson. Since all of them started out better %-wise than McGriff their first two years, I'm not very optomistic for the Crime Dog.

    @7/DavidRF - speaking of Mays, any speculation on his relatively poor start in 1952 (.236 BA/ 4 HR/ 23 RBI in 34 games) before being drafted - just a small sample size?? It's not terrible, but not Mays-like either.

  19. If Thome were to hit it in a game that ARod was playing in, how dope would that be? Has one guy ever joined a club while playing with or against a member of that club? Obviously, any pair of teammates would qualify (presuming the existing member was in that game), but it'd be stranger if it was an opponent. Hard to tell from the numbers above without going through all the individual box scores.

  20. @19

    BSK, the answer is yes. Aaron homered in the Apr 27, 1971 game above to join Mays in the 600 HR club.

    Gehrig did the same (not surprisingly) to join Ruth in the 300 HR club.

  21. Interest research, Doug N. Only once in ML history have two 600+ HR players been involved in the game.

    If Thome and Rodriguez face off it will be historic.

    All the more so because of the trend toward fewer home runs and less offense.

    Looking at the active leaderboard, with Manny gone, Vladimir Guerrero has 441, Chipper Jones has 440, Jason Giambi 420, and so on down the list. I can't see much potential for ever reaching 600 there.

    Albert Pujols might represent the best shot at some one reaching 600 HR again but then who would he bat against 600+ HR?

    Hey, if home run production goes down far enough, maybe MLB could change baseballs the way the French Open did with tennis balls this year :-)

    500 HR may become the new 600 again. Anyway, nice research, Doug N., and thanks Andy for putting it out there.

  22. @21

    Thanks for the kind words, Neil.

    Actually, the 1971 Braves/Giants above was the first time (not the only time) Aaron and Mays appeared in the same game with 600 HR. They, of course, did it a bunch more times through the end of the '73 season.

    The more unique feats (I believe) are these:

    - 3 players with 500 HR. Just 5 times, the first game, two others mentioned @10, plus two more games in the Sox/Yanks series mentioned @10.

    - 4 players with 400 HR. Just 3 times, the first game plus the following two involving Sheffield, Rodriguez, Palmeiro and Sosa.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL200506270.shtml
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA200507040.shtml

  23. @21

    Neil, I think you're right about Pujols being the only guy we know of now who's likely to get to 600. Adam Dunn fans might beg to differ, but I think his chances are quite remote (especially if he doesn't snap out of the funk he's in this year).

    So, we'll have to satisfy ourselves with the 500 HR club for the forseaable future. We're just coming out of a period with a lot of active 500 HR club members (PEDs have helped). But, it's not the first time - there was a comparable period in the early 70s.

    Here are the number of active players in the 500 HR club, by year.
    1929-35, 1, Ruth
    1936-39, none
    1940-43, 1, Foxx
    1944, none
    1945, 2, Foxx, Ott
    1946-47, 1, Ott
    1948-59, none
    1960, 1, Williams
    1961-64, none
    1965-66, 1, Mays
    1967, 3, Mantle, Mathews, Mays
    1968, 4, Aaron, Mantle, Mathews, Mays
    1969, 2, Aaron, Mays
    1970, 3, Aaron, Banks, Mays
    1971, 5, Aaron, Banks, Killebrew, Mays, Robinson
    1972-73, 4, Aaron, Killebrew, Mays, Robinson
    1974-75, 3, Aaron, Killebrew, Robinson
    1976, 2, Aaron, Robinson
    1977, none
    1978-80, 1, McCovey
    1981-83, none
    1984-86, 1, Jackson
    1987, 2, Jackson, Schmidt
    1988-89, 1, Schmidt
    1990-95, none
    1996-97, 1, Murray
    1998, none
    1999-2000, 1, McGwire
    2001, 2, McGwire, Bonds
    2002, 1, Bonds
    2003, 3, Bonds, Palmeiro, Sosa
    2004-05, 4, Bonds, Griffey, Palmeiro, Sosa
    2006, 2, Bonds, Griffey
    2007, 6, Bonds, Griffey, Rodriguez, Sosa, Thomas, Thome
    2008, 5, Griffey, Ramirez, Rodriguez, Thomas, Thome
    2009, 5, Griffey, Ramirez, Rodriguez, Sheffield, Thome
    2010, 4, Griffey, Ramirez, Rodriguez, Thome
    2011, 3, Ramirez, Rodriguez, Thome

  24. @3 @14 @18

    Agreed that it will be tough for McGriff to ever get in, but here's the $762 question assuming McGriff played clean throughout his career. If the HOF voters continue to play cop and omit any candidate linked to or under suspicion for PEDs, then does his stock rise since the list of peers (Sosa, Palmeiro, Gonzalez, etc.) to compare him to has "vanished"? We have a while to wait and see and long at he gets his 5% vote yearly.

  25. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Gosh, eight members of the 600-homer club? Wow. It used to be an awe-inspiring number with only three members, but these roids guys have ruined everything. Heck, 500 is practically meaningless now.

    I just received a message from 1969: "Eight members of the 500-homer club? It used to be an awe-inspiring number with only three members."

    I can only assume that Aaron, Mays, Robinson, Mantle, Banks, Mathews, and Killebrew were on steroids when they *tripled* the size of this "exclusive" club over a period of about 6 years.

  26. Justin Bailey Says:

    Your kung-fu is strong, Twisto. Nicely done.

  27. Johnny Twisto Says:

    per the Favorite Toy, entering 2011:

    Pujols chance for 500 HR: 94%. 600 HR: 70%. 700 HR: 29%. 763 HR: 15%
    Dunn: 500 - 90%. 600 - 33%. 700 - 9%. 763 - 0.05%
    M. Cabrera: 500 - 56%. 600 - 26%. 700 - 9%. 763 - 2%
    Fielder: 500 - 46%. 600 - 22%. 700 - 8%. 763 - 2%

  28. My recollection from around 1960 is that Mathews was thought to have the best shot at 714. Mantle and Mays were also in the discussion, Aaron was not. Prediction is hard, especially of the future.

  29. Not at all the same. The guys who joined the 600-club, except Griffey, were def. on roids.

    Those other players you mentioned were just awesome, and had careers of ~20 years entirely in the live-ball era (and, some would argue, expansion helped).

    Kung-fu grip broken. ;-)

  30. Gerry thanks for that perspective. It's amazing how silly it looks in hindsight to think that Mathews would be the all-time leader but I can understand how it was conventional wisdom at the time.

  31. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Those other players you mentioned were just awesome

    Oh. Then where are all the awesome players today?

  32. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    How about the chances Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki, and Mark Teixeira reaching 500 or beyond?

    Braun and Tex were 23 as rookies so that is a late start. Longo and Tulo were 21. It was amazing to read that Harmon Kilebrew's first MLB homer came as a 17 yr old. That sure helps in reaching 500. There are probably child labor laws against that today, haha.

  33. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    Obviously Heyward and Stanton are off to an early enough start with their power and ability to make the 500 or 600 clubs. Will see. . .

  34. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Chances for 715 HR after 1960:

    Mathews - 19%
    Mantle - 11%
    Aaron - 10%
    Banks - 9%
    R. Colavito - 3%
    F. Robinson - 2%

    Mays had just gone through a mid-career HR trough after moving to San Francisco, so he shows up with no chance. He would start crushing the ball again in '61.

  35. Johnny Twisto Says:

    How about the chances Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki, and Mark Teixeira reaching 500 or beyond?

    Braun: 500 - 11%.
    Longoria: 500 - 6%
    Tulowitzki: 500 - 2% (chances will go up after this season. Now his 2008 still drags him down)
    Teixeira: 500 - 36%. 600 - 10%

    Too early to calculate odds for Heyward and Stanton.

  36. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    Wow those are low odds, we better enjoy our sluggers now.

  37. Johnny Twisto Says:

    It's hard to have good odds when you're so young and still so far away. Imagine a player who debuts at age 20 and hits 40 homers in each of his first three seasons. Couldn't have a more impressive start and yet his chances for 500 would still be only 57%. Longoria only hit 22 HR last season and Braun only hit 25, so that really hurts their odds, the way the formula works. If Braun puts up 40 or so this year, as he's on pace to, his chances will improve substantially.

  38. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Not too long ago, Ryan Howard looked like a possible 600 HR candidate. But not so much now. Speaking of guys with the last name of Howard, Frank Howard could have had a better chance of higher numbers if he hadn't played in RFK Stadium and Dodger Stadium for most of his home games.

  39. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    Braun seems to me to be the kind of guy who could sneak up on 500. Consistent with the potential to have some big years.

  40. I remember pretty vividly when Strawberry and Canseco had "good odds" to be in the 500 club, and they had a much higher profile than Braun or Longoria.

  41. Howard was never a 600 homer candidate. His career started way too late.

    Prince Fielder might hit a ton if he doesn't get too fat.

    Canseco could've made it easily. He was still a good hitter when MLB blackballed him. Strawberry probably makes it if he doesn't become an addict, especially since he almost would've certainly roided when everyone else was.

  42. Thome homered twice tonight in his first game back from the DL.

    That August 600 HR club meeting with A-Rod is looking a lot more likely.

  43. Thome did it the hard way just Arron and Mays CLEAN

    http://www.baseballcomeback.blogspot.com/

  44. @ Johnny Twisto, thanks for running the projections. As I read, I was wondering if it was 1981 and nobody had heard of the Favorite Toy.

  45. Bob Zeiders Says:

    The most games with players playing with 200 home runs has been broken twice this season. 7 played on 4/10/11 NYY vs Boston (Jeter 236, Teixera 287, Posada 267, Chavez 230, Ortiz 358, Cameron 271, Drew, 241) 8 played 4/25/11 Chisox vs NYY (Jeter 236, Teixera 287, Rodriguez 622, Chavez 230, Jones 409, Posada 267, Konerko 375, Dunn 358,) Stay Tuned for possible 9 during the Yankess - LA Angels June 3,4,5 series. The Yankees 6 plus the Angels have 3 Wells 227, Abreu 278 and Hunter 263.

  46. @ #2 Aaron indeed passed Mays as the likely home run king after the 1968 season, as Mays power faded.

    Mays peaked at a 45% chance for 715 after his 1966 season when he hit 37 to push his total to 562.

    Player Age Year HR Tot 715%
    Mays 34 1965 54 525 33%
    Mays 35 1966 37 562 45%
    Mays 36 1967 23 585 33%
    Mays 37 1968 22 607 8%

    Player Age Year HR Tot 715%
    Aaron 31 1965 32 398 11%
    Aaron 32 1966 44 442 5%
    Aaron 33 1967 39 481 21%
    Aaron 34 1968 29 510 28%

  47. Braun is going to have ~165 home runs when he turns age 28. Which would put him more than 130 behind Andruw Jones and Juan Gonzalez at that age.

    Yes he could reach 500 but it's not like he got a fast start age-wise.

  48. @45.

    Thanks, Bob.

    I hadn't actually looked beyond 6 players, so don't know if the games you mentioned are firsts or not.

    The six 2011 Yankees with 200 HR that you mention are reminiscent of the 2005 Yankees in the 6 x 300 game above. Later in 2005, Giambi got to 300 HR. So, with 5 guys at that mark, I did a quick check for a 7 x 300 game that year, but couldn't find it.

  49. @28, @30, @34 and others.

    The 3 x 400 game above is interesting from the persepctive of future HR projections for Mathews and Mays. Those two, born just 5 months apart, had virtually identical HR totals (424 and 426) at that point. I think it would have been very hard to predict then that Mays' career would run 5 years and 148 homers longer than Mathews.

    In addition to appearing in the first 6 x 200, 4 x 300, and 3 x 400 games, Mathews was also in this first AL 2 x 500 game with Mantle.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA196709250.shtml

  50. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ 22

    I Believe one or more of those 1971 Aaron/Mays contests also featured Cepeda and McCovey (then), both of whom had 350.
    Also in '71, Ernie Banks was in his last season and had Billy Williams and Ron santo as teammates with 300 HRs. I believe the Cub trio and the Brave and Giant Duo locked horns a few times.

  51. @50

    Thanks Duke,

    I did check that combo. Santo didn't hit his 300th until 9/10/71. The Cubs did not play the Giants or Braves the rest of the way that year (remember when teams only played in their division in September - I liked that).

  52. @50

    Duke, a month or so ago you were commenting on the 1971 Aaron/Cepeda and Mays/McCovey confluence, and conjecturing whether any game had featured four players with a combined 2000 career HR at that point in time.

    I have found these two games (from the same series) with Griffey (609), Thome (539), Rodriguez (553) and Giambi (395). Total of 2096.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA200809170.shtml
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA200809180.shtml

  53. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    Not sure if anyone is still reading this post. . . I was thinking about this and the future of 500+ HR hitters. Has there been an increase in the number of MLB players going to college and would this impact their ability to play long enough to make such a milestone? There are only 6 players above 500 hrs who played in college and the average age of MLB debut is about 20 yrs for the 500 club. Just a thought. (I remember people making a big deal that Jayson Heyward was called up last year at the tender young age of 20 and wondered if it was too soon).
    Any potential players whose college career robbed them of potential MLB at bats that kept them from a major milestone such as 500 HR? A possible HOF snub, again, just a thought. . .

  54. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Elbow, good point about college. There certainly are more players going to college than once did. Are there more *elite* players going? I'm not sure (the best #1 draft picks have been high schoolers). You say only 6 of the 500-club went -- how many of those were of the most recent batch?

  55. [...] Andy at Baseball-Reference is looking forward to Jim Thome hitting his 600th career home run, and he’s hoping he does it before August 21.  Why?  Because what is cooler than 1 600 HR hitter on the field?  How about 2 of them!!! [...]