Yesterday, Jim Thome hit home runs number 599 and 600, becoming just the eighth player to reach that milestone, and only the fifth player with no link to Performance Enhancing Drugs. And while the achievement might be muted due to the recent steroid era, true appreciation may come in realising there is only one player on the horizon that may join him.
Below is a look at the 18 active players with at least 300 home runs, but have yet to reach 600. The numbers on top of the bars represent the age the player must play until to reach 600 career home runs, assuming they can average 35 home runs per season (a bold assumption in most cases).There appears to be three players (yellow bars) that have at least an outside shot at 600 home runs.
Adam Dunn (365 HR) seemed more likely prior to this season. But his .161 batting average and 11 home runs is a troubling sign that his career is already in decline.
Mark Teixeira, who is only a little over half-way there (307 HR) is another candidate. But in the last four years, in the middle of his prime, Teixeira has only averaged 34 home runs per season. To think he can maintain that pace into his late 30s would seem unlikely.
That leaves Albert Pujols, with 437 career home runs at age 31, as the only lock. At 35 home runs per season, Pujols would reach 600 in 2016. He will need to avoid the sudden decrease in power that happens to many sluggers in their 30s. But even with a decline, Pujols has room for error.
All data via Baseball-Reference.com. Numbers next to names represent ages during 2011 season. Numbers above bars represent age player would have to play until to reach 600 home runs, assuming they can average 35 home runs per season.