You don’t need a jury, a judge, or an LBS writer to tell you that Barry Bonds’ single-season home run record of 73 is a product of steroids. Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and the other poster boys of Major League Baseball’s steroid era shattered records that we all know they wouldn’t have touched if they weren’t juicing. Many believe that the steroid era is behind us. After looking at the numbers and considering the amount of no-hitters that have been thrown already this year, I must say I’m starting to become a believer as well.
When the topic of untouchable baseball records arises, Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak is always the first one that comes to mind. That’s completely understandable and I’m a firm believer that no player will ever surpass Joltin’ Joe’s record, but I think it’s about time we started including 73 home runs in that discussion.
Since Bonds’ record-breaking year in 2001, no American or National League player has eclipsed the 60 home run mark. Ryan Howard came closest when he belted 58 in 2006, but that’s still a whopping 15 homers shy of Bonds’ record. I think people underestimate how far off the record that actually is. The last two seasons — when the perception has been that Major League Baseball is really cracking down on the use of performance-enhancing substances — home run totals have been way down. In 2008, Ryan Howard led the NL with 47 long balls while Miguel Cabrera led the AL with only 37. In 2009, Albert Pujols led the NL with 47 while Mark Teixeira and Carlos Pena tied for the AL lead with 39.