Given its rich history as the American Pastime, it’s commonplace to see baseball romanticized as something of a Greek tragedy.
The ebbs and flows of a season provide palpable drama while the heroes of the game are revered as gods among men.
It’s those legends, those ghosts, which are the standard of measurement for every single player that puts on a uniform in Major League Baseball.
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For the first time since the earlier parts of this millennium, we are measuring one of today’s behemoths with a pair of Yankees legends who are, for many, still atop baseball’s single-season home run list.
Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton belted his 50th home run of the 2017 season on Sunday in just his 127th game of the season and the 129th of his team’s campaign.
With a maximum of 33 games remaining, Stanton could very well be in the discussion of 60 home runs this season, which would make him the first player to reach that mark since Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa hit 73 and 64 home runs respectively in 2001.
Given their abuse of performance enhancing drugs though, along with the likes of Mark McGwire, you have to go to Roger Maris in 1961, who recorded 61 round trippers in 161 games, to find a clean home run king.
He broke the mark set by fellow Yankee and mythic being Babe Ruth, who had 60 in 151 games during the 1927 season.
For Stanton, those two Yankees are the gold standard of power hitting, as he told MLB.com:
“When you grow up watching all the old films of Babe Ruth and [Maris] and those guys, 61 has always been that printed number… Considering some things, I do [believe Bonds’ record of 73 home runs is tainted]. But at the same time, it doesn’t matter. The record is the record. But personally, I think I do.”
Even with a considerable amount of games left, Stanton has put himself in some elite company.
He becomes just the sixth-ever player to hit 50 home runs before the end of August, joining Maris, Bonds, Luis Gonzalez (2001), Mark McGwire (1998, 1999) and Sammy Sosa (1998, 1999, 2001). Let's take a look at just how far he’s come in 2017 and where he ranks among Ruth and Maris’ historic seasons: