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Sosa's Chances of Breaking 700? So-So
2005-06-19 21:59
by Mike Carminati

On Saturday Sammy Sosa hit an opposite-field home run in a 7-2 Baltimore victory over Colorado for the 583rd of his career, tying fellow "savior of the game" Mark McGwire in the process.

In case, you have lived under a rock for the last decade, after two strike-shortened seasons in 1994-95, including one lost World Series, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were locked in a dogfight for the NL home run crown. Both eventually broke the single-season home run record. McGwrire reached the then-ungodly total of 70, while Sosa had to settle for one of the more ludicrously misguided encomiums in baseball history, the NL MVP award.

Now, Sosa and McGwire again meet in an odd confluence at the number six spot of all time. Sosa also is just four home runs away from sole position of the number five spot. Keep in mind that he's had five in the last 25 games.

Given that Sosa is 36 and, even though he projects to 21 homers this season, it would be the fourth straight year in which his home run totals have decreased (from 64 in 2001). Does he have enough in the tank to make a run at Willie Mays' 660 in fourth place? Could he be the fourth man to 700? Or will Sosa and McGwire's meeting at 583 be symbolic of Sosa's sudden decline a la McGwire in 2001?

Let's look at similar batters and see what they have to tell us. I took a look at every batter who hit between twenty and twenty-five home runs at the age of 36 and then looked at their career totals after that year. This is what I found:

NameYrHR Age 36HR post 36Final Yr
Marquis Grissom200320222004
Moises Alou200322392004
Dante Bichette200023122001
Edgar Martinez1999241112004
Darryl Strawberry19982431999
Ryne Sandberg199625121997
Harold Baines199524832001
Tim Wallach199423211996
Paul Molitor199322521998
Dave Winfield1988251081995
Dwight Evans198821391991
Fred Lynn198825171990
Ken Griffey Sr.198621311991
Don Baylor198523541988
George Foster198521141986
Carlton Fisk1984211461993
Ron Cey198425391987
Bill Robinson197924211983
Carl Yastrzemski1976211141983
Willie Stargell197620871982
Willie McCovey197422861980
Ernie Banks196723701971
Willie Mays196722961973
Joe Adcock196421321966
Yogi Berra196122181965
Minnie Minoso195921401980
Mickey Vernon195420471960
Eddie Joost195220121955
Tommy Henrich19492461950
Mel Ott19452111947
Al Simmons19382191944
Cy Williams192424781930
Average 22 48

On average these players had 48 home runs left in the tank. That would leave Sosa 17 shy of Mays. Of course, Sosa may follow the Carlton Fisk route (146 post-36 homers) putting him at 741, in earshot of Aaron. Wouldn't it be the ultimate irony if Sosa eventually passed Bonds and Ruth? Though I think it's unlikely that he'll pass anyone but Frank Robinson at this stage.

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