Slugger Frank Thomas smacked his 500th homer today before being tossed in the ninth for arguing balls and strikes. 500 is quite a milestone. Or is it?
Who has hit 500 or more?
The 700 Club
Hank Aaron 755, Barry Bonds 749, Babe Ruth 714
The 600 Club
Willie Mays 660, Sammy Sosa 601
The 500 Club
Frank Robinson 586, Ken Griffey, Jr. 584, Mark McGwire 583, Harmon Killebrew 573, Rafael Palmeiro, 569, Reggie Jackson 563, Mike Schmidt 548, Mickey Mantle 536, Jimmie Fox 534 ,Willie McCovey 521, Ted Williams 521, Eddie Mathews 512, Ernie Banks 512, Mel Ott 511, Eddie Murray 504, Frank Thomas 500,
Thatâ€™s the list. Sixteen players have made it to between 500 and 600. Only two have 600 and only three have 700. Griffey, Jr. may make it to 600 this season. There are four to five guys who are closing in on 500 too.
So â€“ is 500 a big deal? Thatâ€™s what people have been asking lately.
My answer is, â€œYes, butâ€¦â€?
Griffey noted that â€œ500 is 500.â€? Itâ€™s a number. As far as numbers go, itâ€™s impressive. But it is also one stat.
A little less than one-quarter of the list has performed the feat in the last decade. Some more guys are about to break through.
Five hundred alone should not equal Hall of Fame. But the fact is, itâ€™s still a relatively rare event. However, if more guys start to hit the mark over a shorter period of time, then obviously 600 will become much more important. If that number is reached by more and more, then 700 becomes the mark.
The question to me isâ€”will the homerun record ever go to 800?
The answer is. â€œYes.â€? And itâ€™s not smaller ballparks, or expansion or steroids that hold the answer. Itâ€™s conditioning, advances in medicine and attention to maintaining player health. Today, unlike 25 years ago, players work at staying in shape all year. That makes them more apt to perform better and longer.
Also, sports medicine has advanced to the point where the careers of many fine hitters that may have been over years ago (Griffey, Jr. comes to mind) due to injury have been extended. Additionally, most players are more health conscious.
Player health also tends to be a major point of concern for not only the player but the owner. These guys are getting paid a lot of money and owners want that huge investment to pay off. So, owners are more apt to try to extend playerâ€™s careers by making sure they have great medical care, get days off and are carefully monitored. After all, in MLB if a player is getting paid $14 million a year, they get it whether they are injured or healthy. What owner wants to pay that money to someone sitting out the season due to poor health or a career threatening injury? Optimum performance is the goal and that means ensuring a player, if injured, doesnâ€™t injure themselves even more.
Finally, you might say that the players union is the reason for all of these home runs. Theyâ€™ve been the playersâ€™ biggest advocate as far as job security, proper health care and monetary compensation are concerned.
500 home runs brought to you by the Major League Baseball Players Association and their collective bargaining agreement.