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MLB home run leader from the year you were born

  • MLB home run leader from the year you were born

    Ever since the game was first played by men in baggy pants with long, curly mustaches, the home run has been baseball's iconic moment. It's a distinction that carries a certain amount of drama in its unpredictability. If a graph was made to track Major League Baseball's home run leaders since the beginning of the 20th century, the result would look much like the stock market, full of ups and downs, unfathomable peaks and shocking lows.

    The annual home run leaderboard also lends insight into baseball's various zeitgeists. The “dead ball” era proved how pitchers dominated. When performance-enhancing drugs clouded the sport, home run totals shot through the roof.

    When talking home runs, it's a mixed bag. Surprisingly, some of baseball's most iconic names make only one appearance on the list of home run leaders from the last 100 years. Still, there are plenty of Musials and Ruths, as well as Bonds and Arenados that make this rarified club quite special. Without having to dig through thousands of baseball cards gathering dust in your attic, Stacker compiled a list of the home run leaders in the American and National Leagues since 1901, with details on their memorable seasons, other notable records, and how they fared in future years. Using data from Baseball Reference through the 2018 season, we also make note of the runners-up each year, using 1901 as a starting point, since that is when the AL officially formed (The NL had been around since 1876.)

    Even if you somehow knew Gavvy Cravath was essentially the Reggie Jackson of his time, or that Heinie Zimmerman has as many home run titles as Bryce Harper, this list has interesting nuggets all fans—from Boston Red Sox fans to New York Yankees supporters—can learn from. So open up a box of Cracker Jacks or stuff some Big League Chew into your mouth, put on your favorite cap or jersey, and take a deep dive into baseball history with the best mashers in major league history to find out who the league leader in home runs was the year you were born.

    You may also like: Major moments in MLB history from the year you were born

  • 1901

    - AL leader(s): Nap Lajoie (Philadelphia Athletics)
    - Home runs: 14
    - AL runner(s)-up: Buck Freeman

    - NL leader(s): Sam Crawford (Cincinnati Reds)
    - Home runs: 16
    - NL runner(s)-up: Jimmy Sheckard

    Napoleon “Nap” Lajoie only reached double-digits in home runs once in his career, but in 1901, his 14 homers were enough to top the American League. Lajoie, a future Hall of Famer, also won the Triple Crown this season—leading the league in home runs, batting average and runs batted in. In the National League, Sam Crawford also his a career-high in homers, but never hit more than nine again.

  • 1902

    - AL leader(s): Socks Seybold (Philadelphia Athletics)
    - Home runs: 16
    - AL runner(s)-up: Charlie Hickman, Bill Bradley, Buck Freeman

    - NL leader(s): Tommy Leach (Pittsburgh Pirates)
    - Home runs: 6
    - NL runner(s)-up: Jake Beckley

    Aside from having one of the best nicknames in baseball history, Socks Seybold had one of the most impressive power seasons in early American League history in 1902. His 16 dingers would stand as a league high for almost two decades before another nickname-friendly slugger named Babe Ruth came along and rewrote the record books. Tommy Leach only socked six homers to top the National League, but he also led all batters across baseball with 22 triples.

  • 1903

    - AL leader(s): Buck Freeman (Boston Americans)
    - Home runs: 13
    - AL runner(s)-up: Charlie Hickman

    - NL leader(s): Jimmy Sheckard (Brooklyn Superbas)
    - Home runs: 9
    - NL runner(s)-up: Pat Moran, Tommy Leach, Mike Donlin, Sam Mertes, Cy Seymour, Ginger Beaumont

    Four years earlier, Buck Freeman mashed 25 home runs and immediately became regarded as one of the preeminent sluggers of his era. In 1903, Freeman once again topped the American League, finishing a five-year span of hitting 67 long balls, a gargantuan number in the early 20th century. Jimmy Sheckard not only led the National League in homers but swiped 67 bases, the most across baseball.

  • 1904

    - AL leader(s): Harry Davis (Philadelphia Athletics)
    - Home runs: 10
    - AL runner(s)-up: Danny Murphy, Buck Freeman

    - NL leader(s): Harry Lumley (Brooklyn Superbas)
    - Home runs: 9
    - NL runner(s)-up: Dave Brain

    The 10 home runs by Harry Davis were not overly impressive, but 1904 began a four-year streak of dominance by the Philadelphia native, who spent a majority of his life in the City of Brotherly Love. In one of the more impressive debuts of the time, rookie Harry Lumley not only led the National League in home runs but posted a best 18 triples. However, Lumley was very much a feast or famine batter, as his 106 strikeouts in his first season were the most in all of baseball.

  • 1905

    - AL leader(s): Harry Davis (Philadelphia Athletics)
    - Home runs: 8
    - AL runner(s)-up: George Stone

    - NL leader(s): Fred Odwell (Cincinnati Reds)
    - Home runs: 9
    - NL runner(s)-up: Cy Seymour

    Harry Davis only needed eight home runs to capture his second straight home run crown, but he also led the American League in runs, doubles, and runs batted in. Meanwhile, 1905 would be the height of Fred Odwell's career, as he never hit another home run in the majors after this season, and was out of baseball by 1908.

  • 1906

    - AL leader(s): Harry Davis (Philadelphia Athletics)
    - Home runs: 12
    - AL runner(s)-up: Charlie Hickman

    - NL leader(s): Tim Jordan (Brooklyn Superbas)
    - Home runs: 12
    - NL runner(s)-up: Harry Lumley

    During his four-year stretch of excellence, Harry Davis reached his peak in 1906, with a career-best 12 home runs and 96 runs batted in. Tim Jordan's 12 homers and 78 RBI were not too shabby, either, as the New York native would have one more season to remember in two years.

  • 1907

    - AL leader(s): Harry Davis (Philadelphia Athletics)
    - Home runs: 8
    - AL runner(s)-up: Socks Seybold, Danny Hoffman, Ty Cobb

    - NL leader(s): Dave Brain (Boston Doves)
    - Home runs: 10
    - NL runner(s)-up: Harry Lumley

    After 1907, Harry Davis saw his career decline, as he hit only 11 more home runs before finally retiring in 1917. Davis, however, did capture three World Series rings in addition to one from 1902, mostly as a player-manager. Dave Brain, from the U.K., tried to use his formidable season to negotiate a pay raise, a tactic that fell on deaf ears and led to a $50 fine.

  • 1908

    - AL leader(s): Sam Crawford (Detroit Tigers)
    - Home runs: 7
    - AL runner(s)-up: Bill Hinchman

    - NL leader(s): Tim Jordan (Brooklyn Superbas)
    - Home runs: 12
    - NL runner(s)-up: Honus Wagner

    Seven years after his first home run title, Sam Crawford once again topped the American League leaderboard. The National League also saw a repeat winner, with Tim Jordan holding off the legendary Honus Wagner in the home run race.

  • 1909

    - AL leader(s): Ty Cobb (Detroit Tigers)
    - Home runs: 9
    - AL runner(s)-up: Tris Speaker

    - NL leader(s): Red Murray (New York Giants)
    - Home runs: 7
    - NL runner(s)-up: Beals Becker, Tommy Leach, Larry Doyle

    Over his first four professional seasons, Ty Cobb showed a propensity for driving in runs, but not many came off home runs. This year would mark the only time of his illustrious career where he led the league in homers, but he continued to be a run-producing machine throughout his 24 years in the bigs. By the time Cobb retired, his .366 career batting average would go down as the best of all-time.

  • 1910

    - AL leader(s): Jake Stahl (Boston Red Sox)
    - Home runs: 10
    - AL runner(s)-up: Ty Cobb, Duffy Lewis

    - NL leader(s): Frank Schulte, Fred Beck (Boston Doves, Chicago Cubs)
    - Home runs: 10
    - NL runner(s)-up: Jake Daubert, Larry Doyle

    The height of Jake Stahl's baseball career came in 1910, but after he hung up his spikes, he saw even more success as a banker. Frank Schulte's 1910 campaign would be an appetizer to monster numbers the following year, while Fred Beck won his only home run title.

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