Giancarlo Stanton has been on an incredible home run tear over the past two months, and he’s starting to near some serious milestones.
On Tuesday, Stanton hit a towering shot to deep left field off of Edwin Jackson, giving his Miami Marlins an early lead over the Washington Nationals. It was his 51st of the season, 14 more than anyone else in baseball, and it came just two days after he smacked his 50th of the year, becoming the first National Leaguer to reach that mark in more than a decade.
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While the Marlins ultimately lost that game, the home run was still significant. It was Stanton’s 51st through 131 games, equaling Roger Maris’ pace in his record-breaking 1961 season, when the Yankee great hit 61 homers.
Maris’ mark has been surpassed on six occasions by three men: Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. But all three have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs and many baseball fans remain critical of steroid users, viewing Maris as the true owner of the single-season home run record.
Stanton counts himself among that group. Earlier this month, he revealed his stance to Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel.
“But at the same time it doesn’t matter,”‘ Stanton said. “The record is the record. But, personally, I do [think 61 is the record].”
It’s been a long time since a player has approached Maris’ mark — Jose Bautista got the closest of anyone this decade, launching 54 homers in 2010. Stanton needs just three more to match that effort, and by that point, every one of his plate appearances will be must-see TV.
But while the pursuit of 61 should be one of the most compelling stories of September, it’s not the only milestone he’s threatening. Tuesday’s blast was Stanton’s 18th in August, matching Rudy York’s 1937 record for the most home runs in that month. Only Sosa has hit more in a single month, with 20 dingers in June 1998.
“That’s pretty cool. Any major league record’s a pretty awesome feat,” Stanton said after the game.
Stanton’s brush with history is the result of an unbelievable summer at the plate. Through his first 81 games of 2017, the Californian had just 21 home runs and a .523 slugging percentage, but in the 47 games he’s played since then, he’s hit 29 bombs and slugged .919 to put himself in elite company.
At just 27, Stanton already has a whopping 259 home runs for his career, and he’s played in more than 125 games in just three of his eight seasons. If he maintains his current pace, he could threaten for an even more impressive record: Bonds’ career mark of 762.
But first, Stanton will put the finishing touches on his sterling 2017 campaign. His next appearance will come on Wednesday against the Nationals.
Some guys don’t hit 18 home runs in a season.
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