Quick, how many home runs did Hank Aaron hit? Good. Now, how many home runs did Barry Bonds hit? Exactly. But don’t worry, most people don’t know (he hit 762). And yet, most baseball fans know Aaron’s number (755).
And that is the situation we are faced with as baseball fans. In a sport built on numbers, we are now reduced to the “clean” numbers we all know and love, and the “dirty” numbers that we all want to ignore.
Enter Jim Thome. Never a sniff of Performance Enhancing Drugs, and most people would say that he falls in the “clean” category. And yet, Thome, who is just four home runs shy of 600 for his career, is largely being ignored despite knocking on the door of a very exclusive milestone.
Currently, there are seven players in baseball history that hit more than 600 home runs in their career. Unfortunately for Thome, three of those guys cheated their way to the milestone.
So, while Thome would be just the fifth member of the group with a clean record, he is also entering a group that was artificially diluted by names that most of us speak of in the same way that we speak of Brussels sprouts (and no, I don’t know what that means either).
Here is Thome’s real place among baseball’s all-time home run leaders…
All data via Baseball-Reference.com