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34 With a Bullet
2004-07-19 12:32
by Mike Carminati

At 34 she is an extremely beautiful woman, lavishly endowed by nature with a few flaws in the masterpiece: She has an insipid double chin, her legs are too short and she has a slight potbelly. She has a wonderful bosom, though.

"J.R." Richard Burton, lovingly on his then-current wife Elizabeth "Resolutes" Taylor

Listen, AngeÖIím 34 years old, Iím just tired thatís all.

óErnie "Let's Play Two" Borgnine in the great Marty (Bystrom).

Over the weekend Jim Thome hit his major-league-leading30th home run of the season, a three-run shot in the ninth in the Phil's 8-2 win Saturday over the Mets. In second place are Manny Ramirez and Adam Dunn at 26.

Thome hit 15 of those homers in June while batting .306 with a .430 OBP and .816 slugging percenatge (1.246 OPS) for the month. He's slowed a bit in July with just three homers and a .224 (and .796 OPS) in 58 July at-bats. However, Thome overall projects to what would be a career-high 53 home runs on the season.

Some will say that those numbers are padded by his new home park Citizens Bank Park, which has been a launching pad in its first half-year of existence. He does have 16 home runs at home, but his 14 road home runs are second to only Alex Rodriguez's and Albert Pujols' 15. He also has better all-around numbers on the road:

ThomeABRHRRBIAVGOBPSLGOPS
Home155351628.265.375.6451.020
Away153271439.320.438.6731.111

With his next home run Thome (33) will pass Barry Bonds for homers by age 34 (i.e., the season in which the player was 34 after July). If he hits continues hitting home runs at his current pace, he'll be twelfth all time in pre-34 HRs:

NameHR by 34
Jimmie Foxx519
Sammy Sosa499
Ken Griffey Jr.481
Hank Aaron481
Eddie Mathews477
Mickey Mantle473
Babe Ruth470
Willie Mays453
Frank Robinson450
Harmon Killebrew446
Mel Ott445
Jim Thome (proj.)434
Juan Gonzalez429
Lou Gehrig427
Barry Bonds411
Jim Thome411

Could Thome break 600, 700, or whatever the record is by the time he retires? Assuming he finishes the year at the projected 434. He would need 66 to reach the 500 milestone. Through 2003, 101 major-leaguers had hit at least 66 homers from age 34 on. How about the 166 needed to reach 600 career homers? That's been done 16 times.

Here are the most home runs from the age of 34 on all-time:

Name34+ HR
Hank Aaron274
Barry Bonds*271
Babe Ruth244
Andres Galarraga229
Rafael Palmeiro*227
Darrell Evans210
Carlton Fisk207
Willie Mays207
Ted Williams197
Mark McGwire196
Reggie Jackson194
Edgar Martinez*186
Dave Winfield184
Stan Musial183
Hank Sauer183
Cy Williams169

[Note: an asterisk indicates an active player in 2004, and his totals reflect his 2004 HRs]

It looks like Thome has a decent shot if he can stay healthy for a number of years. For all the talk of his being prone to injury, he has never played fewer than 123 games after he became a starter at the major-league level.

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