Who’s Next for 500?

I went into the history of the 500 home run club yesterday and as part of that, I was looking into potential future members of the club. That investigation evolved into a longer post, one I think worthy of its own standing.

Looking at the immediate future, Carlos Delgado, with 473 career home runs, is in line to become the first member of the 500 home run club from the 2010s pending his recovery from hip surgery. After Delgado, the next members on the current active list over 400 are Chipper Jones, who is tough to gauge given his age, Jason Giambi, who has no chance and Vladimir Guerrero, who seems highly unlikely given his age and advancing level of injury. Does Chipper make it? He will probably be 70 away after this season and on a low 20s per year average at the age of 37. If he does pass it, it looks like it would be in his age 41 season, assuming no further drop off in power.

Among players in the 300-400 current list, Albert Pujols is almost a given to make it. Though remember when Andruw Jones seemed like a lock as well? Not so anymore. After Pujols, you have to go all the way down to Adam Dunn at 308 before turning 30. Dunn is likely to fall off fast when he goes, but three more 40-homer seasons gets him to about 440 and that should be close enough to withstand even a mid-30s breakdown.

The further down the home run list you go, the younger the player needs to be. Mark Teixeira is over 70 home runs behind Dunn at the same age, but if New Yankee Stadium maintains its reputation as homer friendly, Tex has some other skills besides power that could help him hold off decline until his late 30s and if so, that should buy him enough time to get in. Ryan Howard is an even longer shot, but if he could go post another 200 home runs in the next four seasons might get himself in the running. Big if though.

Miguel Cabrera is playing in a pitcher friendly park and does not seem the best bet to age well so I would be highly skeptical of his chances to reach 500, needing to average 30 a year (his career average) for the next decade to reach it. The furthest player out that I would feel even remotely comfortable projecting to get near the mark is Prince Fielder. Fielder’s good command of the strike zone might enable him to play for the required time that he will need.

After a decade of sluggers mushrooming the list 25, the 2010s are almost certain to look more like the 80s or 90s with just two or three players crashing the gate.

Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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Ryan M
13 years ago

Vlad is that unlikely? If he just stays at DH instead of screwing around in RF, he has a shot to hit another hundred. His ISO is down to like .160, which given the number of at-bats this year, probably isn’t a significant deviation from other recent seasons. Before this year, the last time he was under 140 games played was 2003. Four more seasons of ~25 HR will get him there, and something to that effect sounds perfectly reasonable over his age 35-40 seasons. I would give him a 40% chance to make it, at least.

I also think you’re underrating Cabrera as well since power tends to improve into that early thirties, and he’s what? 26?