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MLB home run leader from the year you were born

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Maddie Meyer // Getty Images

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

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Chicago Daily News // Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Oscar Winter // Wikimedia Commons

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.

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The Sporting News Archives // Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Paul Thompson // Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

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.

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George Grantham Bain // Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Bain News Service // Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

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.

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National Photo Company // Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Charles M. Conlon // Wikimedia Commons

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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Charles M. Conlon // Wikimedia Commons

1911

- AL leader(s): Frank Baker (Philadelphia Athletics)
- Home runs: 11
- AL runner(s)-up: Tris Speaker, Ty Cobb

- NL leader(s): Frank Schulte (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 21
- NL runner(s)-up: Fred Luderus

You don't earn a nickname like “Home Run” unless you're adept at socking the ball over the fence. Frank “Home Run” Baker won his first of four home run crowns in 1911 and was one of the most feared hitters of his time. Despite Baker's feats, Frank Schulte arguably had the better year, hitting 21 long balls for his second consecutive National League home run crown.

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Bain News Service // Wikimedia Commons

1912

- AL leader(s): Frank Baker, Tris Speaker (Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 10
- AL runner(s)-up: Ty Cobb

- NL leader(s): Heinie Zimmerman (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 14
- NL runner(s)-up: Frank Schulte

Tris Speaker tied Frank Baker with 10 home runs in the American League, but Baker also led the majors with 130 runs batted in. Heinie Zimmerman's career year put him atop the home run and batting average leaderboards, and recent research shows Zimmerman might have actually won a Triple Crown (runs batted in were not an official stat at the time).

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

1913

- AL leader(s): Frank Baker (Philadelphia Athletics)
- Home runs: 12
- AL runner(s)-up: Sam Crawford

- NL leader(s): Gavvy Cravath (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 19
- NL runner(s)-up: Fred Luderus

As Frank Baker continued his dominance among American League sluggers, Gavvy Cravath was just beginning his ascent in the National League. Cravath led the majors in home runs and runs batted in (128), and would be the dominant NL power hitter over the next three years.

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Charles M. Conlon // Wikimedia Commons

1914

- AL leader(s): Frank Baker (Philadelphia Athletics)
- Home runs: 9
- AL runner(s)-up: Sam Crawford

- NL leader(s): Gavvy Cravath (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 19
- NL runner(s)-up: Vic Saier

For the second season in a row, Frank Baker and Gavvy Cravath were the home run kings of Major League Baseball. Cravath was also called “Cactus” and “Wooden shoes,” while Gavvy was short for "gaviota," the Spanish word for seagull. Legend has it that during one game, Cravath hit a liner that struck and killed a seagull.

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Charles M. Conlon // Wikimedia Commons

1915

- AL leader(s): Braggo Roth (Chicago White Sox/Cleveland Indians)
- Home runs: 7
- AL runner(s)-up: Rube Oldring

- NL leader(s): Gavvy Cravath (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 24
- NL runner(s)-up: Cy Williams

Braggo Roth won his first and only home run title and knocked Frank Baker from the throne. But no one could top Gavvy Cravath again in the National League, as the slugger cracked 24 home runs and led the majors with 115 runs batted in.

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The Library of Congress // Wikimedia Commons

1916

- AL leader(s): Wally Pipp (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 12
- AL runner(s)-up: Frank Baker

- NL leader(s): Cy Williams, Dave Robertson (Chicago Cubs, New York Giants)
- Home runs: 12
- NL runner(s)-up: Gavvy Cravath

Baseball's early days were chock full of wonderful nicknames, but few had original monikers as memorable as Wally Pipp. The stout slugger from the Midwest first made a name for himself with his 12 homers in 1916, but Pipp's real claim to fame came in 1925 when he was replaced in the New York Yankees lineup by Lou Gehrig, who went on to play 2,130 consecutive games.

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The Library of Congress // Flickr

1917

- AL leader(s): Wally Pipp (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 9
- AL runner(s)-up: Bobby Veach

- NL leader(s): Gavvy Cravath, Dave Robertson (Philadelphia Phillies, New York Giants)
- Home runs: 12
- NL runner(s)-up: Rogers Hornsby

Pipp picked up back-to-back home run crowns, while Gavvy Cravath reclaimed his title, beginning another three-year reign atop the National League's home run hitters. Dave Robertson, who tied for the 1916 lead, won his second straight home run title by tying Cravath.

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

1918

- AL leader(s): Babe Ruth, Tillie Walker (Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Athletics)
- Home runs: 11
- AL runner(s)-up: Frank Baker, George Burns

- NL leader(s): Gavvy Cravath (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 8
- NL runner(s)-up: Walton Cruise, Cy Williams

Tillie Walker never again led a league in home runs (despite crushing 37 in 1922), but will always go down as sharing the 1918 honor with Babe Ruth. This year effectively ended the “Deadball era” of baseball, and power numbers began to skyrocket afterward.

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National Photo Company // Wikimedia Commons

1919

- AL leader(s): Babe Ruth (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 29
- AL runner(s)-up: Tillie Walker, Frank Baker, George Sisler

- NL leader(s): Gavvy Cravath (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 12
- NL runner(s)-up: Benny Kauff

Before 1918, Babe Ruth hit a total of nine home runs over his first four seasons (166 games). Ruth's first home run crown was a sign of good things to come and by 1919, he became a household name with 29 homers, a monstrous number for the era. Gavvy Cravath won his sixth and final home run title and would collect only one more homer before retiring after the 1919 season.

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Chicago Daily News // Wikimedia Commons

1920

- AL leader(s): Babe Ruth (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 54
- AL runner(s)-up: George Sisler

- NL leader(s): Cy Williams (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 15
- NL runner(s)-up: Irish Meusel

Babe Ruth became a phenomenon by 1920, when he hit an almost unfathomable 54 home runs (poor George Sisler, whose 19 homers would have been good in almost any other year before to lead the league). Ruth also led the majors in runs scored, runs batted in, and walks. Somehow, the best was yet to come from Ruth.

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Bain News Service // Wikimedia Commons

1921

- AL leader(s): Babe Ruth (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 59
- AL runner(s)-up: Ken Williams, Bob Meusel

- NL leader(s): George Kelly (New York Giants)
- Home runs: 23
- NL runner(s)-up: Rogers Hornsby

Playing in New York, Babe Ruth knew how to put on an encore for adoring audiences, and his 1921 performance sent many Yankees fans into hysterics. With an almost unfathomable 59 home runs, Ruth once again set a new single-season home run record. The Great Bambino also scored 177 runs and drove in 168, shattering the record books.

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Bain News Service // Wikimedia Commons

1922

- AL leader(s): Ken Williams (St. Louis Browns)
- Home runs: 39
- AL runner(s)-up: Tillie Walker

- NL leader(s): Rogers Hornsby (St. Louis Cardinals)
- Home runs: 42
- NL runner(s)-up: Cy Williams

Babe Ruth could only amass 35 home runs in 1922, allowing sweet-swinging Ken Williams to claim the American League home run title. Williams, who hailed from Oregon, would be a solid power hitter throughout his career, but never again reached the heights of his 1922 season. Meanwhile, Rogers Hornsby finally broke through to lead the National League in home runs, as he cemented himself as one of the game's best all-around offensive players (Hornsby led the NL in runs batted in the previous two seasons.)

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

1923

- AL leader(s): Babe Ruth (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 41
- AL runner(s)-up: Ken Williams

- NL leader(s): Cy Williams (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 41
- NL runner(s)-up: Jack Fournier

Babe Ruth returned to the top of the mountain in 1923, also drawing a major league-leading 170 walks. Over the next decade, rarely Ruth ceded the top home run spot, leading the American League in homers 12 times from 1918–1931. For the third time, Cy Williams led the National League in long balls, registering a career-high 41 home runs.

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The Sporting News Archives // Wikimedia Commons

1924

- AL leader(s): Babe Ruth (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 46
- AL runner(s)-up: Joe Hauser

- NL leader(s): Jack Fournier (Brooklyn Robins)
- Home runs: 27
- NL runner(s)-up: Rogers Hornsby

Babe Ruth not only led the American League in home runs but for the seventh straight season, he topped the AL in slugging percentage. Jack Fournier, who won his lone home run title in 1924, later spent his post-retirement career as a scout for several major league teams.

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Bain News Service // Wikimedia Commons

1925

- AL leader(s): Bob Meusel (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 33
- AL runner(s)-up: Babe Ruth, Ken Williams

- NL leader(s): Rogers Hornsby (St. Louis Cardinals)
- Home runs: 39
- NL runner(s)-up: Gabby Hartnett

Babe Ruth's teammate Bob Meusel was never known as a power hitter, but in 1925 his career-high 33 home runs were good enough for the best mark in the American League (as were his 134 runs batted in). Meusel's brother, Emil, played for the crosstown rival New York Giants but never amassed the popularity of Bob, who along with Ruth and Earl Combs, manned what many consider the greatest outfield trio ever.

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mojumbo22 // Wikimedia Commons

1926

- AL leader(s): Babe Ruth (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 47
- AL runner(s)-up: Al Simmons

- NL leader(s): Hack Wilson (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 21
- NL runner(s)-up: Jim Bottomley

Hack Wilson captured the first of four home run titles in 1926, beginning the rise of one of the National League's most feared hitters—Wilson also led the National League in strikeouts five times (making “hack” an apropos nickname). However, despite all his glory on the diamond, Wilson's career had a precipitous decline and he died in 1948.

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Pacific & Atlantic Photos // Wikimedia Commons

1927

- AL leader(s): Babe Ruth (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 60
- AL runner(s)-up: Lou Gehrig

- NL leader(s): Cy Williams, Hack Wilson (Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 30
- NL runner(s)-up: Rogers Hornsby

For several years, it appeared as if Babe Ruth had reached his peak, as he did not break 50 home runs after socking 59 in 1921. But in 1927, Ruth had an all-time great season, becoming the first major leaguer to reach 60 home runs—a mark that would stand until 1961. Ruth's total doubled the 30 home runs that led the National League leaders, Cy Williams, and Hack Wilson.

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Frances P. Burke // Wikimedia Commons

1928

- AL leader(s): Babe Ruth (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 54
- AL runner(s)-up: Lou Gehrig

- NL leader(s): Hack Wilson, Jim Bottomley (Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals)
- Home runs: 31
- NL runner(s)-up: Chick Hafey

Babe Ruth could not top his magical 1927 season, but 54 homers aren't too shabby. Meanwhile, Jim Bottomley tied for the National League home run title, the only time during his Hall of Fame career he'd lead the league in long balls. Bottomley was still quite the prolific hitter—from 1924–29 he hit drove in over 111 runs each season.

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Goudey Gum // Wikimedia Commons

1929

- AL leader(s): Babe Ruth (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 46
- AL runner(s)-up: Lou Gehrig

- NL leader(s): Chuck Klein (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 43
- NL runner(s)-up: Mel Ott

In only his second season in the big leagues, Chuck Klein shot to the top of the National League home run leaderboard. Klein, an Indiana native, would claim the crown as home run king three more times, and finished his career with 300 homers on the nose.

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Paul Thompson // Wikimedia Commons

1930

- AL leader(s): Babe Ruth (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 49
- AL runner(s)-up: Lou Gehrig

- NL leader(s): Hack Wilson (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 56
- NL runner(s)-up: Chuck Klein

From 1926–1931, Babe Ruth not only led the American League in homers each season, but he drove in runs at an astronomical rate. During this six-year stretch, Ruth's low in runs batted in was 146 in 1928 (he also never hit lower than .323).

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

1931

- AL leader(s): Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 46
- AL runner(s)-up: Earl Averill

- NL leader(s): Chuck Klein (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 31
- NL runner(s)-up: Mel Ott

Babe Ruth led the American League in home runs for the last time in his career (tying with New York Yankees teammate Lou Gehrig), but he still had some pop left in his bat. During his twilight years, Ruth hit 103 home runs over his last four seasons, finishing with 714 total. That mark would not be broken until 1974, by Hank Aaron.

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Harris & Ewing // Wikimedia Commons

1932

- AL leader(s): Jimmie Foxx (Philadelphia Athletics)
- Home runs: 58
- AL runner(s)-up: Babe Ruth

- NL leader(s): Chuck Klein, Mel Ott (Philadelphia Phillies, New York Giants)
- Home runs: 38
- NL runner(s)-up: Bill Terry

Jimmie Foxx topped the 30 home run mark in each of the three seasons before 1932, so his mind-boggling 58 homer campaign was not a complete surprise. Foxx deservedly won the most valuable player award, while also leading the National League in runs and runs batted in. Legend has it that Foxx served as the basis for Tom Hanks' character in “A League of Their Own.”

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Goudey Gum // Wikimedia Commons

1933

- AL leader(s): Jimmie Foxx (Philadelphia Athletics)
- Home runs: 48
- AL runner(s)-up: Babe Ruth

- NL leader(s): Chuck Klein (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 28
- NL runner(s)-up: Wally Berger

Jimmie Foxx picked up his second most valuable player hardware after leading the American League in homers and runs batted in again. Even though Chuck Klein hit 20 fewer homers than Foxx, his season may have been even more impressive; Klein won the Triple Crown thanks to his 120 RBI and .368 batting average.

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The Library of Congress // Wikimedia Commons

1934

- AL leader(s): Lou Gehrig (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 49
- AL runner(s)-up: Jimmie Foxx

- NL leader(s): Mel Ott, Ripper Collins (New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals)
- Home runs: 35
- NL runner(s)-up: Wally Berger

Although his 1931 season was quite monumental (46 home runs, 185 runs batted in), Lou Gehrig's 1934 output put him in rarefied air. Gehrig paced the American League with 166 RBI and a .363 average to go with his 49 homers, earning him his only Triple Crown. In the National League, the wonderfully nicknamed Ripper Collins led the league in home runs for the first and only time of his career.

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Harris & Ewing // Wikimedia Commons

1935

- AL leader(s): Hank Greenberg, Jimmie Foxx (Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Athletics)
- Home runs: 36
- AL runner(s)-up: Lou Gehrig

- NL leader(s): Wally Berger (Boston Braves)
- Home runs: 34
- NL runner(s)-up: Mel Ott

In his third full season with the Detroit Tigers, “Hammerin” Hank Greenberg etched himself in as one of the torchbearers of American League sluggers following Babe Ruth's decline. Winning the most valuable player award at 24, Greenberg also drove in a whopping 168 runs. Elsewhere, Wally Berger, a solid power hitter throughout his career, had a breakout campaign in 1935, leading the National League with 130 RBI.

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Goudey Gum // Wikimedia Commons

1936

- AL leader(s): Lou Gehrig (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 49
- AL runner(s)-up: Hal Trosky

- NL leader(s): Mel Ott (New York Giants)
- Home runs: 33
- NL runner(s)-up: Dolph Camilli

For the third and final time in his career, Lou Gehrig led the American League in home runs. Over the next two seasons, Gehrig would hit 37 and 29 home runs, but his storied run came to a sad end when he retired in 1939, after receiving a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Gehrig died two years later and is forever remembered as one of baseball's most iconic figures.

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Play Ball cards // Wikimedia Commons

1937

- AL leader(s): Joe DiMaggio (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 46
- AL runner(s)-up: Hank Greenberg

- NL leader(s): Mel Ott, Joe Medwick (New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals)
- Home runs: 31
- NL runner(s)-up: Dolph Camilli

In only his second season, Joe DiMaggio immediately became a Yankees fan favorite, thanks to his 46 homers, 167 runs batted in, and 151 runs scored. “Joltin' Joe” would not lead the American League in home runs again until 1948, although he did miss three full seasons due to military service. Joe Medwick not only tied for the National League home run lead but won the Triple Crown with 154 runs batted in and a .374 batting average.

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Baseball Digest // Wikimedia Commons

1938

- AL leader(s): Hank Greenberg (Detroit Tigers)
- Home runs: 58
- AL runner(s)-up: Jimmie Foxx

- NL leader(s): Mel Ott (New York Giants)
- Home runs: 36
- NL runner(s)-up: Ival Goodman

In 1938, Hank Greenberg became only the second player other than Babe Ruth to hit 58 or more home runs in a season. Mel Ott capped a three year run as the National League's home run king and would win one more four years later, bringing his total number of crowns to six.

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Baseball Digest // Wikimedia Commons

1939

- AL leader(s): Jimmie Foxx (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 35
- AL runner(s)-up: Hank Greenberg

- NL leader(s): Johnny Mize (St. Louis Cardinals)
- Home runs: 28
- NL runner(s)-up: Mel Ott

Johnny Mize's family tree could fill quite the lineup. Not only did Mize lead the National League in homers four times, but he was a distant cousin of Ty Cobb. Another member of Mize's family, Clara Merritt, married Babe Ruth.

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Bowman Gum // Wikimedia Commons

1940

- AL leader(s): Hank Greenberg (Detroit Tigers)
- Home runs: 41
- AL runner(s)-up: Jimmie Foxx

- NL leader(s): Johnny Mize (St. Louis Cardinals)
- Home runs: 43
- NL runner(s)-up: Bill Nicholson

As the 1940s began, Major League Baseball would soon undergo drastic changes. World War II sent many of the sport's best sluggers into the military, and home run totals slightly dipped during wartime. Before Hank Greenberg went off to serve, he collected his third American League home run title.

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Apex Photo Company // Wikimedia Commons

1941

- AL leader(s): Ted Williams (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 37
- AL runner(s)-up: Charlie Keller

- NL leader(s): Dolph Camilli (Brooklyn Dodgers)
- Home runs: 34
- NL runner(s)-up: Mel Ott

The first of four home run titles for Ted Williams came in 1941, only his third season in the majors. However, Williams is better known for his .406 batting average during this campaign, as he remains the last player to hit above .400. Somewhat surprisingly, Dolph Camilli took the National League home run crown and also won the most valuable player award. Camilli finished his career in 1945, hitting 239 homers.

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Baseball Digest // Wikimedia Commons

1942

- AL leader(s): Ted Williams (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 36
- AL runner(s)-up: Chet Laabs

- NL leader(s): Mel Ott (New York Giants)
- Home runs: 30
- NL runner(s)-up: Dolph Camilli, Johnny Mize

In his final season before entering the military, Ted Williams won the American League Triple Crown, adding 137 runs batted in and a .356 batting average to his 36 homers. Williams did not play in the majors from 1943–45 due to World War II, but he returned without missing a beat in 1946. Mel Ott picked up his sixth and final home run title in the National League.

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Acme News // Wikimedia Commons

1943

- AL leader(s): Rudy York (Detroit Tigers)
- Home runs: 34
- AL runner(s)-up: Charlie Keller

- NL leader(s): Bill Nicholson (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 29
- NL runner(s)-up: Mel Ott

Beginning in his first full season in 1937, Rudy York hit 20 or more home runs for seven straight years. His masterpiece came in 1943 when for the only time in his career, he led the American League in home runs. Bill Nicholson also became a first-time home run leader, taking the National League crown.

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Bowman Gum // Wikimedia Commons

1944

- AL leader(s): Nick Etten (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 22
- AL runner(s)-up: Vern Stephens

- NL leader(s): Bill Nicholson (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 33
- NL runner(s)-up: Mel Ott

Nick Etten only hit 89 home runs over a career that spanned nine seasons. But his 22 long balls in 1944 would be good enough to capture the American League home run title, as baseball continued on without some of its top sluggers aiding the war effort.

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Boston Braves // Wikimedia Commons

1945

- AL leader(s): Vern Stephens (St. Louis Browns)
- Home runs: 24
- AL runner(s)-up: Roy Cullenbine, Nick Etten, Rudy York

- NL leader(s): Tommy Holmes (Boston Braves)
- Home runs: 28
- NL runner(s)-up: Chuck Workman

With World War II coming to an end during the 1945 season, Major League Baseball would soon be re-injected with some of its best power hitters. In the meantime, Vern Stephens hit a then-career-high 24 homers to win the American League home run race, and Tommy Holmes' career best 28 dingers solidified the top spot in the National League. Holmes also led the majors with 224 hits.

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Bowman // Wikimedia Commons

1946

- AL leader(s): Hank Greenberg (Detroit Tigers)
- Home runs: 44
- AL runner(s)-up: Ted Williams

- NL leader(s): Ralph Kiner (Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Home runs: 23
- NL runner(s)-up: Johnny Mize

After a three year absence (he played for part of the 1945 season), Hank Greenberg returned to baseball with a bang. Almost doubling the output of the previous season's home run leader, Greenberg showed little rust in adding 127 runs batted into his 44 homers. This year also saw the arrival of an all-time great, as rookie Ralph Kiner won his first of seven straight home run titles.

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

1947

- AL leader(s): Ted Williams (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 32
- AL runner(s)-up: Joe Gordon

- NL leader(s): Ralph Kiner, Johnny Mize (Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Giants)
- Home runs: 51
- NL runner(s)-up: Willard Marshall

Another year, another returning legend reclaiming his throne. Not only did Ted Williams lead the league in home runs, but his 114 runs batted in and .343 average earned him his second Triple Crown. After missing three seasons while serving in the military, Williams did not skip a beat.

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Baseball Digest // Wikimedia Commons

1948

- AL leader(s): Joe DiMaggio (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 39
- AL runner(s)-up: Joe Gordon

- NL leader(s): Ralph Kiner, Johnny Mize (Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Giants)
- Home runs: 40
- NL runner(s)-up: Stan Musial

Major League Baseball post-World War II led to a renaissance of sorts throughout the game. Not only were there emerging stars to be found like Ralph Kiner, but returning veterans filled a void missing from three long seasons away from the diamond. Joe DiMaggio had one last epic season in 1948, leading the American League in homers and registering 155 runs batted in, which topped the majors.

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Bowman Gum // Wikimedia Commons

1949

- AL leader(s): Ted Williams (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 43
- AL runner(s)-up: Vern Stephens

- NL leader(s): Ralph Kiner (Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Home runs: 54
- NL runner(s)-up: Stan Musial

Of all his great performances, 1949 might have been the most legendary in Ted Williams' storied career. After leading the American League in homers, Williams also had more runs, doubles, runs batted in, and walks than any other player in the AL. Ralph Kiner, Pittsburgh's rising star, kept outdoing himself by notching a career-high 54 homers.

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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

1950

- AL leader(s): Al Rosen (Cleveland Indians)
- Home runs: 37
- AL runner(s)-up: Walt Dropo

- NL leader(s): Ralph Kiner (Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Home runs: 47
- NL runner(s)-up: Andy Pafko

After collecting only 65 plate appearances over his first three seasons (with zero homers), Al Rosen broke out in 1950, to notch the first of two home run titles. Rosen also led the league in times hit by pitches, a stat he likely did not remember as fondly. Rosen later became a front office executive and was always proud of his Jewish heritage, refusing to play during the High Holy Days.

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Bowman Gum // Wikimedia Commons

1951

- AL leader(s): Gus Zernial (Chicago White Sox/Philadelphia Athletics)
- Home runs: 33
- AL runner(s)-up: Ted Williams

- NL leader(s): Ralph Kiner (Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Home runs: 42
- NL runner(s)-up: Gil Hodges

Gus Zernial was the rare player to be traded during a season in which he won a home run title. Zernial began 1951 inauspiciously, collecting no homers in four games with the Chicago White Sox, before breaking through after a deal sent him to Philadelphia. Although he'd later have campaigns with 42 and 30 home runs, Zernial never again duplicated his success of 1951.

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Getty Images

1952

- AL leader(s): Larry Doby (Cleveland Indians)
- Home runs: 32
- AL runner(s)-up: Luke Easter

- NL leader(s): Ralph Kiner, Hank Sauer (Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 37
- NL runner(s)-up: Gil Hodges

In 1947, Larry Doby became the first black player in American League history, and second to break baseball's color barrier after Jackie Robinson. Doby continually proved he was among the sport's most talented players and in 1952, he collected his first of two home run titles. From 1949–55, Doby was named an All-Star each year and in 1998, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

1953

- AL leader(s): Al Rosen (Cleveland Indians)
- Home runs: 43
- AL runner(s)-up: Gus Zernial

- NL leader(s): Eddie Mathews (Milwaukee Braves)
- Home runs: 47
- NL runner(s)-up: Duke Snider

In only his second season, Eddie Mathews finally dethroned Ralph Kiner from the National League home run leaderboard, beginning on onslaught on baseball's record books. Mathews would only win one additional home run title but was a notoriously powerful hitter with a great eye, good enough for 512 career home runs and an eventual spot in Cooperstown.

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Baseball Digest // Wikimedia Commons

1954

- AL leader(s): Larry Doby (Cleveland Indians)
- Home runs: 32
- AL runner(s)-up: Ted Williams

- NL leader(s): Ted Kluszewski (Cincinnati Reds)
- Home runs: 49
- NL runner(s)-up: Gil Hodges

Larry Doby picked up his second home run title, again smacking 32 long balls, while the bulky Ted Kluszewski led the majors in both homers and runs batted in (141). Kluszewski was in the midst of a monster four-year stretch, where he hit more than 35 home runs each season, and drove in more than 100 RBI. From 1953–56, Kluszewski made four All-Star teams.

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New York Yankees // Wikimedia Commons

1955

- AL leader(s): Mickey Mantle (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 37
- AL runner(s)-up: Gus Zernial

- NL leader(s): Willie Mays (New York Giants)
- Home runs: 51
- NL runner(s)-up: Ted Kluszewski

You would be hard-pressed to find another year that had two more memorable names leading the leagues in home runs. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays also lead their leagues in triples in 1955, exemplifying the talents of two of the game's all-time greats.

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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

1956

- AL leader(s): Mickey Mantle (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 52
- AL runner(s)-up: Vic Wertz

- NL leader(s): Duke Snider (Brooklyn Dodgers)
- Home runs: 43
- NL runner(s)-up: Joe Adcock, Frank Robinson

Mickey Mantle's encore in 1956 was simply astonishing, as he smacked 52 home runs and drove in a whopping 130 runs. Mantle also hit .353, winning his first Triple Crown. Meanwhile, Duke Snider won his first and only home run title—but by no means was any less successful. Snider hit 40 or more home runs in five straight years from 1953–57, and was just as beloved by Brooklynites as Mantle was in the Bronx.

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

1957

- AL leader(s): Roy Sievers (Washington Senators)
- Home runs: 42
- AL runner(s)-up: Ted Williams

- NL leader(s): Hank Aaron (Milwaukee Braves)
- Home runs: 44
- NL runner(s)-up: Ernie Banks

Roy Sievers is a name often lost in the shuffle of this golden era of baseball, among the Mantles, Mays', and Sniders of the world. Still, Sievers flashed a lot of pop and finished his career with 318 home runs. His 114 runs batted in also led the American League in 1957. In the National League, an emerging star named Hank Aaron won his first of four home run titles, just one of many accolades to come.

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

1958

- AL leader(s): Mickey Mantle (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 42
- AL runner(s)-up: Rocky Colavito

- NL leader(s): Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 47
- NL runner(s)-up: Frank Thomas

Mickey Mantle's third home run title also came while leading the league in runs and walks. In the National League, Ernie Banks won his first home run crown, with a career-high 47 homers. Even more impressive, 1958 was the first of back-to-back most valuable player awards for the man forever known as “Mr. Cub.”

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Baseball Digest // Wikimedia Commons

1959

- AL leader(s): Harmon Killebrew, Rocky Colavito (Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians)
- Home runs: 42
- AL runner(s)-up: Jim Lemon

- NL leader(s): Eddie Mathews (Milwaukee Braves)
- Home runs: 46
- NL runner(s)-up: Ernie Banks

After only getting a cup of coffee in the big leagues over his first five seasons, Harmon Killebrew solidified his spot in the Washington Senators lineup with a breakout campaign of 42 homers and 105 runs batted in. While Killebrew would win five more home run crowns, Cleveland's Rocky Colavito picked up his first and only title, tying Killebrew with 42 homers. Eddie Mathews took home his second and final home run title in the National League.

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Baseball Digest // Wikimedia Commons

1960

- AL leader(s): Mickey Mantle (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 40
- AL runner(s)-up: Roger Maris

- NL leader(s): Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 41
- NL runner(s)-up: Hank Aaron

Just like in 1958, Mickey Mantle and Ernie Banks were the home run kings of baseball. Both were able to hold off sluggers notable in their own right—Roger Maris, who would make history the following year, and Hank Aaron, who became baseball's all-time home run leader 14 years later.

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Baseball Digest // Wikimedia Commons

1961

- AL leader(s): Roger Maris (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 61
- AL runner(s)-up: Mickey Mantle

- NL leader(s): Orlando Cepeda (San Francisco Giants)
- Home runs: 46
- NL runner(s)-up: Willie Mays

Not only did Roger Maris lead the majors in homers, but he broke Babe Ruth's 34-year record and became the single-season home run king. For the next three decades, 61 would become a mythical number in sports, a feat that some thought might never be topped.

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Manny's Baseball Land // Wikimedia Commons

1962

- AL leader(s): Harmon Killebrew (Minnesota Twins)
- Home runs: 48
- AL runner(s)-up: Norm Cash

- NL leader(s): Willie Mays (San Francisco Giants)
- Home runs: 49
- NL runner(s)-up: Hank Aaron

Harmon Killebrew began a run of three consecutive home run titles (he also led the American League with 126 runs batted in and 142 strikeouts). Willie Mays also won his second home run crown in 1862 and would lead the National League in homers three of the next four years.

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Sheldunn // Wikimedia Commons

1963

- AL leader(s): Harmon Killebrew (Minnesota Twins)
- Home runs: 45
- AL runner(s)-up: Dick Stuart

- NL leader(s): Willie McCovey, Hank Aaron (San Francisco Giants, Milwaukee Braves)
- Home runs: 44
- NL runner(s)-up: Willie Mays

Willie McCovey showed promise in his first four seasons in the majors, totaling 64 home runs while playing only about half the year from 1959–62. When McCovey became a full-time staple in the lineup, he became a revelation. Paired alongside Willie Mays through the 1960s, the two sluggers mashed home runs and became one of the game's most iconic duos.

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Asco // Wikimedia Commons

1964

- AL leader(s): Harmon Killebrew (Minnesota Twins)
- Home runs: 49
- AL runner(s)-up: Boog Powell

- NL leader(s): Willie Mays (San Francisco Giants)
- Home runs: 47
- NL runner(s)-up: Billy Williams

For the second time in three years, the home run leaderboards were dominated by Harmon Killebrew and Willie Mays. Killebrew would clinch two more home run titles, while Mays had one more in store.

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Boston Red Sox // Wikimedia Commons

1965

- AL leader(s): Tony Conigliaro (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 32
- AL runner(s)-up: Norm Cash

- NL leader(s): Willie Mays (San Francisco Giants)
- Home runs: 52
- NL runner(s)-up: Willie McCovey

After topping the majors in home runs in 1965, Willie Mays won his second most valuable player award. His 52 homers were a career-best, and he'd finish with 660 total. Tony Conigliaro claimed his only home run title in the American League; Conigliaro had the pop to remain a potent slugger, but in 1967 he was hit in the eye by a pitch and his career was never the same.

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Manny's Baseball Land // Wikimedia Commons

1966

- AL leader(s): Frank Robinson (Baltimore Orioles)
- Home runs: 49
- AL runner(s)-up: Harmon Killebrew

- NL leader(s): Hank Aaron (Atlanta Braves)
- Home runs: 44
- NL runner(s)-up: Dick Allen

It's almost astonishing that it took 11 years for Frank Robinson to win his first home run title. In his first 10 seasons, Robinson topped 30 homers seven times, but 1966 was his pinnacle, as he captured the Triple Crown (122 runs batted in, .316 average). For the third time in his career (he would accomplish the feat four times), Hank Aaron smacked exactly 44 home runs, matching his jersey number.

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Steven Carter // Wikimedia Commons

1967

- AL leader(s): Carl Yastrzemski, Harmon Killebrew (Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins)
- Home runs: 44
- AL runner(s)-up: Frank Howard

- NL leader(s): Hank Aaron (Atlanta Braves)
- Home runs: 39
- NL runner(s)-up: Jim Wynn

Carl Yastrzemski never totaled more than 20 home runs in his first six seasons, but broke out in a big way in 1967. “Yaz” added 121 runs batted in and hit .326, earning his first and only Triple Crown, and most valuable player honors.

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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

1968

- AL leader(s): Frank Howard (Washington Senators)
- Home runs: 44
- AL runner(s)-up: Willie Horton

- NL leader(s): Willie McCovey (San Francisco Giants)
- Home runs: 36
- NL runner(s)-up: Dick Allen

Another in a recent trend of late bloomers, Frank Howard took home his first home run title at age 31. Willie McCovey won his first of two consecutive home run crowns in the National League.

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Texas Rangers // Wikimedia Commons

1969

- AL leader(s): Harmon Killebrew (Minnesota Twins)
- Home runs: 49
- AL runner(s)-up: Frank Howard

- NL leader(s): Willie McCovey (San Francisco Giants)
- Home runs: 45
- NL runner(s)-up: Hank Aaron

Harmon Killebrew's sixth and final home run title came in perhaps his best season. Killebrew also led the majors with 140 runs batted in and notched 145 walks, earning him his first most valuable player award. Willie McCovey hit a career-high 45 home runs and later finished his career with 521 total.

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Bettmann // Getty Images

1970

- AL leader(s): Frank Howard (Washington Senators)
- Home runs: 44
- AL runner(s)-up: Harmon Killebrew

- NL leader(s): Johnny Bench (Cincinnati Reds)
- Home runs: 45
- NL runner(s)-up: Billy Williams

Frank Howard continued to get better with age, hitting 44 homers for the second time in three years, while also leading the American league with 126 runs batted in and 132 walks. Howard later retired with an impressive 382 career home runs. Meanwhile, young upstart catcher Johnny Bench had a career year, notching 45 homers and 148 RBI, which earned him the most valuable player award.

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Jay Publishing // Getty Images

1971

- AL leader(s): Bill Melton (Chicago White Sox)
- Home runs: 33
- AL runner(s)-up: Reggie Jackson, Norm Cash

- NL leader(s): Willie Stargell (Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Home runs: 48
- NL runner(s)-up: Hank Aaron

Bill Melton was never flashy with the glove, but when healthy could deposit baseballs deep into the stands. Melton became the first Chicago White Sox player to win a home run title outright, while Willie Stargell, at age 31, grabbed his first home run crown.

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Sports Service // Wikimedia Commons

1972

- AL leader(s): Dick Allen (Chicago White Sox)
- Home runs: 37
- AL runner(s)-up: Bobby Murcer

- NL leader(s): Johnny Bench (Cincinnati Reds)
- Home runs: 40
- NL runner(s)-up: Nate Colbert

Dick Allen was another player who did not lead the league in home runs until his thirties, capturing the American League crown in 1972 at age 30. Allen also won his only most valuable player award that year, and Johnny Bench secured his second MVP trophy with 40 homers and a majors-leading 125 runs batted in.

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United Press International // Wikimedia Commons

1973

- AL leader(s): Reggie Jackson (Oakland Athletics)
- Home runs: 32
- AL runner(s)-up: Jeff Burroughs, Frank Robinson

- NL leader(s): Willie Stargell (Pittsburgh Pirates)
- Home runs: 44
- NL runner(s)-up: Davey Johnson

When Reggie Jackson was 23 in 1969, he came two homers short of winning the American League home run title, but many baseball fans knew he was due in the future. That time came four years later when Jackson led the AL in home runs and runs batted in (117) and was named most valuable player. Despite leading the majors in homers and RBI (119), Willie Stargell finished second in National League MVP voting. He later won the award in 1979, at age 39.

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KG Graphics // Wikimedia Commons

1974

- AL leader(s): Dick Allen (Chicago White Sox)
- Home runs: 32
- AL runner(s)-up: Reggie Jackson

- NL leader(s): Mike Schmidt (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 36
- NL runner(s)-up: Johnny Bench

In his first full season in the bigs in 1973, Mike Schmidt showed some promise with an 18 home run campaign, but he grew tremendously the next year. Schmidt doubled his homer output and drove in 116 runs, cementing himself as the game's premier third baseman.

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Jewel Foods // Wikimedia Commons

1975

- AL leader(s): Reggie Jackson, George Scott (Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers)
- Home runs: 36
- AL runner(s)-up: John Mayberry

- NL leader(s): Mike Schmidt (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 38
- NL runner(s)-up: Dave Kingman

George Scott's career-best home run output tied him with Reggie Jackson for the American League title (Scott also led the AL with 109 runs batted in). Mike Schmidt led the majors in homers for the second consecutive season but also had a league-high 180 strikeouts.

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New York Yankees // Wikimedia Commons

1976

- AL leader(s): Graig Nettles (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 32
- AL runner(s)-up: Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando

- NL leader(s): Mike Schmidt (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 38
- NL runner(s)-up: Dave Kingman

Mike Schmidt wrapped up his trifecta of home run crowns (he also led the majors in strikeouts from 1974–76). In the American League, Graig Nettles added his name to the list of New York Yankees to win a home run title, belting a career-high 32 dingers.

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Boston Red Sox // Wikimedia Commons

1977

- AL leader(s): Jim Rice (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 39
- AL runner(s)-up: Graig Nettles, Bobby Bonds

- NL leader(s): George Foster (Cincinnati Reds)
- Home runs: 52
- NL runner(s)-up: Jeff Burroughs

This year saw a pair of first-timers win home run titles. Jim Rice, a future Hall of Famer, hit a then-career-best 39 homers, while George Foster, a platoon player for much of his career, fulfilled his potential in not only topping the 50 home run barrier but leading the majors with 149 runs batted in. Foster also took home most valuable player award hardware.

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MLB Photos // Getty Images

1978

- AL leader(s): Jim Rice (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 46
- AL runner(s)-up: Larry Hisle, Don Baylor

- NL leader(s): George Foster (Cincinnati Reds)
- Home runs: 40
- NL runner(s)-up: Greg Luzinski

In a repeat of 1977, Jim Rice and George Foster were kings of the long ball. Rice also led the American League with 146 runs batted in and earned the most valuable player award. Foster topped the National league with 120 runs batted in.

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Wahkeenah // Wikimedia Commons

1979

- AL leader(s): Gorman Thomas (Milwaukee Brewers)
- Home runs: 45
- AL runner(s)-up: Fred Lynn, Jim Rice

- NL leader(s): Dave Kingman (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 48
- NL runner(s)-up: Mike Schmidt

If you ever searched for the prototypical image of a late 1970s–early 80s ballplayer, you'd likely find Gorman Thomas. With bushy hair and a thick mustache that would make Tom Selleck envious, Thomas personified a baseball slugger and backed it up with his 1979 home run title. Dave Kingman, one of the game's all-time free swingers, smacked a career-high 48 homers and also led the National League with 131 strikeouts.

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Rich Pilling // Getty Images

1980

- AL leader(s): Reggie Jackson, Ben Oglivie (New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers)
- Home runs: 41
- AL runner(s)-up: Gorman Thomas

- NL leader(s): Mike Schmidt (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 48
- NL runner(s)-up: Bob Horner

Ben Oglivie is one of the forgotten ballplayers of the 1980s, but he was pretty good in his own right. A three-time All-Star, Oglivie surpassed 40 home runs for the first and only time in his career in 1980, tying Reggie Jackson and putting his name alongside Mike Schmidt, who captured the National League crown. Schmidt added 121 runs batted in and won his first most valuable player award.

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Rick Stewart // Getty Images

1981

- AL leader(s): Bobby Grich, Eddie Murray, Dwight Evans, Tony Armas (California Angels, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics)
- Home runs: 22
- AL runner(s)-up: Gorman Thomas, Greg Luzinski

- NL leader(s): Mike Schmidt (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 31
- NL runner(s)-up: Andre Dawson

Due to an almost two-month player strike, the 1981 season saw a crowded home run leaderboard in the American League. That allowed Bobby Grich, Eddie Murray, and Dwight Evans to win their only home run titles.

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Jim Accordino // Wikimedia Commons

1982

- AL leader(s): Reggie Jackson, Gorman Thomas (California Angels, Milwaukee Brewers)
- Home runs: 39
- AL runner(s)-up: Dave Winfield

- NL leader(s): Dave Kingman (New York Mets)
- Home runs: 37
- NL runner(s)-up: Dale Murphy

In the National League, Dave Kingman became the first New York Mets slugger to win a home run crown. Over in the American League, Reggie Jackson won his fourth and final home run title, and would finish his Hall of Fame career with 563 homers.

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Ron Vesely // Getty Images

1983

- AL leader(s): Jim Rice (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 39
- AL runner(s)-up: Tony Armas

- NL leader(s): Mike Schmidt (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 40
- NL runner(s)-up: Dale Murphy

After three consecutive seasons with 24 homers or less and failing to reach 100 runs batted in, Jim Rice returned in a big way in 1983. Rice clobbered 39 home runs and led the majors with 126 RBI, earning his third and final home run crown. Mike Schmidt reached 40 homers for the second time in his career and won his sixth home run title.

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Rich Pilling // Getty Images

1984

- AL leader(s): Tony Armas (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 43
- AL runner(s)-up: Dave Kingman

- NL leader(s): Mike Schmidt, Dale Murphy (Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves)
- Home runs: 36
- NL runner(s)-up: Gary Carter

After tying for the home run lead with several players during the strike-shortened 1981 season, Tony Armas reached the mountaintop all by himself three years later. His career highs of 43 homers and 123 runs batted in led the majors. Later, his son, Tony Armas, pitched 10 seasons in the majors.

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Texas Rangers // Wikimedia Commons

1985

- AL leader(s): Darrell Evans (Detroit Tigers)
- Home runs: 40
- AL runner(s)-up: Carlton Fisk

- NL leader(s): Dale Murphy (Atlanta Braves)
- Home runs: 37
- NL runner(s)-up: Dave Parker

It took Darrell Evans 17 years before he led a league in home runs. Before retiring in 1989, Evans went out with a bang, hitting 103 home runs from ages 38–40. He finished with 414 career home runs. Dale Murphy, who hit 398 career homers, picked up his second straight home run title in the National League.

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Focus On Sport // Getty Images

1986

- AL leader(s): Jesse Barfield (Toronto Blue Jays)
- Home runs: 40
- AL runner(s)-up: Dave Kingman

- NL leader(s): Mike Schmidt (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 37
- NL runner(s)-up: Glenn Davis, Dave Parker

Mike Schmidt collected his eighth and final home run title in 1986. In the American League, Jesse Barfield won his only home run crown.

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Silent Sensei // Wikimedia Commons

1987

- AL leader(s): Mark McGwire (Oakland Athletics)
- Home runs: 49
- AL runner(s)-up: George Bell

- NL leader(s): Andre Dawson (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 49
- NL runner(s)-up: Dale Murphy

For the first of many times, Mark McGwire etched his name into the home run record books in 1987. As a rookie, McGwire pounded away 49 homers to lead the majors, good enough to win the Rookie of the Year award. Andre Dawson won his only home run title, also hitting 49 homers while leading the majors with 137 runs batted in. Dawson was named most valuable player and eventually landed in the Hall of Fame, somewhere McGwire is still awaiting an invite to.

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Otto Greule Jr // Getty Images

1988

- AL leader(s): José Canseco (Oakland Athletics)
- Home runs: 42
- AL runner(s)-up: Fred McGriff

- NL leader(s): Darryl Strawberry (New York Mets)
- Home runs: 39
- NL runner(s)-up: Glenn Davis

José Canseco, the second half of Oakland's “Bash Brothers” with Mark McGwire, won his first home run title in 1988, and also topped the majors with 124 runs batted in. Canseco's career would later become marred by steroids; the National League leader, Darryl Strawberry, also had a checkered career. Despite Strawberry's picturesque uppercut swing, encounters with drugs and crime derailed his promise.

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Bruce Bennett // Getty Images

1989

- AL leader(s): Fred McGriff (Toronto Blue Jays)
- Home runs: 36
- AL runner(s)-up: Joe Carter

- NL leader(s): Kevin Mitchell (San Francisco Giants)
- Home runs: 47
- NL runner(s)-up: Howard Johnson

One of the most consistent (and underappreciated) power hitters of his generation, Fred McGriff amassed 493 home runs in his career. He never posted gaudy numbers like some of his contemporaries (who were aided by performance-enhancing drugs) but could be penciled in for about 30 homers each year. Long considered a player who did not fulfill his promise, Kevin Mitchell exceeded expectations by leading the majors in homers and runs batted in (125) in 1989, good enough to earn the most valuable player award.

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Rick Stewart // Getty Images

1990

- AL leader(s): Cecil Fielder (Detroit Tigers)
- Home runs: 51
- AL runner(s)-up: Mark McGwire

- NL leader(s): Ryne Sandberg (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 40
- NL runner(s)-up: Darryl Strawberry

Few players were more physically memorable in the 1990s than Cecil Fielder. A round, but extremely powerful presence, Fielder burst onto the scene in 1990, his first actual full season, and led the majors in homers and runs batted in (132). Over his first eight years in the majors, Ryne Sandberg wasn't considered a great power hitter, but he found his home run stroke at age 29, hitting 30 homers for the first time, then followed that with his first home run crown at age 30.

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Otto Greule Jr // Getty Images

1991

- AL leader(s): José Canseco, Cecil Fielder (Oakland Athletics, Detroit Tigers)
- Home runs: 44
- AL runner(s)-up: Cal Ripken, Jr.

- NL leader(s): Howard Johnson (New York Mets)
- Home runs: 38
- NL runner(s)-up: Matt Williams

Cecil Fielder and José Canseco both won their last home run titles in 1991, although they'd hit plenty more over their careers. Fielder finished with 319 total, while Canesco netted 462 over 17 years. Howard Johnson, a power-swinging third baseman for the New York Mets, won his only home run crown.

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PAUL BUCK // Getty Images

1992

- AL leader(s): Juan González (Texas Rangers)
- Home runs: 43
- AL runner(s)-up: Mark McGwire

- NL leader(s): Fred McGriff (San Diego Padres)
- Home runs: 35
- NL runner(s)-up: Barry Bonds

With a chiseled frame, Juan González had the look of a prototypical slugger. In only his second full season, he reached the 40-home run plateau, a feat he'd copy four more times over his career. Fred McGriff, in the midst of a seven-year run of 30 or more homers, won his second and final home run title.

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Otto Greule Jr // Getty Images

1993

- AL leader(s): Juan González (Texas Rangers)
- Home runs: 46
- AL runner(s)-up: Ken Griffey Jr.

- NL leader(s): Barry Bonds (San Francisco Giants)
- Home runs: 46
- NL runner(s)-up: David Justice

Forty-six of Juan Gonzalez's 434 career home runs came in 1993, the year of his final home run crown. Meanwhile, Barry Bonds led the league in homers for the first time in his career; surprisingly, even though he is baseball's all-time home run king, Bonds led the National League in home runs only twice.

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Stephen Dunn // Getty Images

1994

- AL leader(s): Ken Griffey Jr. (Seattle Mariners)
- Home runs: 40
- AL runner(s)-up: Frank Thomas

- NL leader(s): Matt Williams (San Francisco Giants)
- Home runs: 43
- NL runner(s)-up: Jeff Bagwell

Even though the 1994 season was cut short shortened by a players' strike, home run totals were still through the roof. Matt Williams notched his only 40-plus home run season, socking 43 dingers in only 112 games.

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1995

- AL leader(s): Albert Belle (Cleveland Indians)
- Home runs: 50
- AL runner(s)-up: Jay Buhner, Frank Thomas

- NL leader(s): Dante Bichette (Colorado Rockies)
- Home runs: 40
- NL runner(s)-up: Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa

Albert Belle was the owner of a batting stance that signaled a man about to inflict harm on a baseball. Violently wagging his bat ready to uncork, Belle crushed 50 home runs in 1995, as Major League Baseball returned form a work stoppage. Dante Bichette won his only home run title and led the majors in runs batted in (128) in the National League.

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Roger H. Rangel // Wikimedia Commons

1996

- AL leader(s): Mark McGwire (Oakland Athletics)
- Home runs: 52
- AL runner(s)-up: Brady Anderson

- NL leader(s): Andrés Galarraga (Colorado Rockies)
- Home runs: 47
- NL runner(s)-up: Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield

Nine years after his first home run crown, Mark McGwire climbed back to the top of the leaderboard with a then-career-best 52 homers. Andrés Galarraga, another powerful slugger in the heart of the Colorado Rockies' lineup, won his only home run title while leading the majors with 150 runs batted in.

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DOUG COLLIER // Getty Images

1997

- AL leader(s): Ken Griffey Jr. (Seattle Mariners)
- Home runs: 56
- AL runner(s)-up: Tino Martinez

- NL leader(s): Larry Walker (Colorado Rockies)
- Home runs: 49
- NL runner(s)-up: Jeff Bagwell

If you wanted to mimic the most picturesque swing, chances are you'd take Ken Griffey Jr.'s approach in the box. Like watching poetry in motion, Griffey had an almost perfect swing that was equal parts power and finesse. His 56 home runs in 1997 had baseball fans frenzied in thinking Roger Maris' record of 61 could be broken. In the National League, Larry Walker became the third different Rockie in three years to lead the league in homers.

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Jed Jacobsohn // Getty Images

1998

- AL leader(s): Ken Griffey Jr. (Seattle Mariners)
- Home runs: 56
- AL runner(s)-up: Albert Belle

- NL leader(s): Mark McGwire (St. Louis Cardinals)
- Home runs: 70
- NL runner(s)-up: Sammy Sosa

Often considered the season that saved baseball and brought fans back to stadiums (only later to be remembered for steroid scandals), 1998 saw Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa take aim at the single-season home run record. McGwire ended up winning the chase, while Sosa also topped Roger Maris' mark, hitting 66 homers. Griffey for the second straight year, hit 56.

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ANTHONY ONCHAK // Getty Images

1999

- AL leader(s): Ken Griffey Jr. (Seattle Mariners)
- Home runs: 48
- AL runner(s)-up: Rafael Palmeiro

- NL leader(s): Mark McGwire (St. Louis Cardinals)
- Home runs: 65
- NL runner(s)-up: Sammy Sosa

Ken Griffey Jr. won his third consecutive American League home run title, while Mark McGwire followed up his 70 homer season with 65. McGwire only played two more seasons before retiring with 583 career home runs, but his legacy has been tainted by the alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. McGwire remains on the outside, looking in at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Al Bello // Getty Images

2000

- AL leader(s): Troy Glaus (Anaheim Angels)
- Home runs: 47
- AL runner(s)-up: Jason Giambi, Frank Thomas

- NL leader(s): Sammy Sosa (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 50
- NL runner(s)-up: Barry Bonds

Sammy Sosa finally took home his first home run title, while Troy Glaus also captured his first crown. Glaus finished with 320 homers and was a four-time All-Star, but will always be remembered in southern California for his 2002 World Series most valuable player performance, which gave the Anaheim Angels their first championship.

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Ronald Martinez // Getty Images

2001

- AL leader(s): Alex Rodriguez (Texas Rangers)
- Home runs: 52
- AL runner(s)-up: Jim Thome

- NL leader(s): Barry Bonds (San Francisco Giants)
- Home runs: 73
- NL runner(s)-up: Sammy Sosa

Lost in the shuffle of the humongous home run titles being posted in the late 1990s, Alex Rodriguez belted 40 or more homers each season from 1998–2000. A-Rod finally won his first crown in 2001, starting a run of three consecutive titles. But Rodriguez's feats were outshined again, as Barry Bonds was the talk of this season, as he broke Mark McGwire's single-season record with 73 homers.

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MATT CAMPBELL // Getty Images

2002

- AL leader(s): Alex Rodriguez (Texas Rangers)
- Home runs: 57
- AL runner(s)-up: Jim Thome

- NL leader(s): Sammy Sosa (Chicago Cubs)
- Home runs: 49
- NL runner(s)-up: Barry Bonds

The home run leaders from the late 1990s and early 2000s are synonymous with power, but also controversy. Many admitted to or were accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, making some of these gaudy numbers questionable in the eyes of fans. Still, Alex Rodriguez's 57 homers in 2002 were the most in the majors, as were his 142 runs batted in. Somewhat controversially, Rodriguez playing for a last-place team, came in second in most valuable player voting.

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Brian Bahr // Getty Images

2003

- AL leader(s): Alex Rodriguez (Texas Rangers)
- Home runs: 47
- AL runner(s)-up: Carlos Delgado

- NL leader(s): Jim Thome (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 47
- NL runner(s)-up: Richie Sexson, Barry Bonds

Alex Rodriguez only hit 47 homers in 2003, but that was enough to capture a most valuable player award many thought he was worthy of the year before. In the National League, Jim Thome, who spent the first 12 years of his career in Cleveland, won the home run title in his first year in the NL It was Thome's only home run crown, but his 612 career homers helped him gain entry to the Hall of Fame in 2018.

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Greg Fiume // Getty Images

2004

- AL leader(s): Manny Ramírez (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 43
- AL runner(s)-up: Paul Konerko, David Ortiz

- NL leader(s): Adrián Beltré (Los Angeles Dodgers)
- Home runs: 48
- NL runner(s)-up: Adam Dunn, Albert Pujols

In a season that will forever be remembered in Boston Red Sox history, Manny Ramírez not only was a driving force in carrying the team to a World Series title, but he led the American League in home runs for the first (and only) time of his career. Considering Ramirez hit 555 homers in his career, that is almost as shocking as the Red Sox overcoming a 3-0 deficit in the American League Championship Series. Ramirez's countrymate, Adrián Beltré, also collected his first (and only) home run crown.

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Ronald Martinez // Getty Images

2005

- AL leader(s): Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 48
- AL runner(s)-up: David Ortiz

- NL leader(s): Andruw Jones (Atlanta Braves)
- Home runs: 51
- NL runner(s)-up: Derrek Lee

Alex Rodriguez, one year after being acquired by the New York Yankees, became the club's first home run leader since Reggie Jackson in 1980. Andruw Jones, in his 10th major league season, won his lone home run title. Jones, a stellar defensive player (he won 10 Gold Gloves) also hit 434 career home runs.

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Stephen Dunn // Getty Images

2006

- AL leader(s): David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox)
- Home runs: 54
- AL runner(s)-up: Jermaine Dye

- NL leader(s): Ryan Howard (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 58
- NL runner(s)-up: Albert Pujols

Another member of the club of surprising names who only won one home run title, David Ortiz finally reached the apex at age 30. His 541 career homers make home a solid bet to make the Hall of Fame. The National League leader from this year, Ryan Howard, also led the majors in runs batted in (149) and won the most valuable player award in his first full season in the majors.

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Chris Graythen // Getty Images

2007

- AL leader(s): Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 54
- AL runner(s)-up: Carlos Peña

- NL leader(s): Prince Fielder (Milwaukee Brewers)
- Home runs: 50
- NL runner(s)-up: Ryan Howard

Prince Fielder became part of the first father-son duo to win a home run title (Cecil won in 1990) and was one of the most intriguing physical specimens of modern baseball. Although he weighed just under 300 pounds, Fielder was noticeably spry and finished his career with 319 homers. Alex Rodriguez won his fifth and final home run crown while picking up his third most valuable player award.

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Gregory Shamus // Getty Images

2008

- AL leader(s): Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers)
- Home runs: 37
- AL runner(s)-up: Carlos Quentin

- NL leader(s): Ryan Howard (Philadelphia Phillies)
- Home runs: 48
- NL runner(s)-up: Adam Dunn

One of the best hitters of his generation, Miguel Cabrera earned his first of two home run titles (he entered this season with 465 in his career). In an era where most sluggers are pure power without finesse, Cabrera has led the league in batting average four times and holds a career average well over .310.

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Nick Laham // Getty Images

2009

- AL leader(s): Carlos Peña, Mark Teixeira (Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 39
- AL runner(s)-up: Jason Bay, Aaron Hill

- NL leader(s): Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals)
- Home runs: 47
- NL runner(s)-up: Prince Fielder

Followers of “Moneyball” will remember Carlos Peña's role as a powerful slugger, albeit one who lacked consistency at the plate. Peña lived up to that billing in 2009, hitting 39 homers, but only batting .227. Mark Teixeira, who shared the American League crown with Peña, fared a bit better, hitting .292.

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Jason Miller // Getty Images

2010

- AL leader(s): José Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays)
- Home runs: 54
- AL runner(s)-up: Paul Konerko

- NL leader(s): Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals)
- Home runs: 42
- NL runner(s)-up: Adam Dunn

José Bautista bounced around four teams before finally finding a home with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he became their most popular hitter of the last decade. Bautista won back-to-back home run titles and hit 288 total during ten seasons north of the border. Albert Pujols, one of this generation's greatest offensive players, won his second consecutive home run crown. Pujols entered 2019 with 633 career home runs, with a lifetime batting average over .300.

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Justin K. Aller // Getty Images

2011

- AL leader(s): José Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays)
- Home runs: 43
- AL runner(s)-up: Curtis Granderson

- NL leader(s): Matt Kemp (Los Angeles Dodgers)
- Home runs: 39
- NL runner(s)-up: Prince Fielder

While José Bautista was Mr. Blue Jay the last decade, Matt Kemp was the heartbeat of the Los Angeles Dodgers' offensive over the same period. Kemp, along with hitting 39 homers in 2011, led the majors with 126 runs batted in. In 10 years with the Dodgers over two stints, he hit .292 with 203 home runs.

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Ronald Martinez // Getty Images

2012

- AL leader(s): Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers)
- Home runs: 44
- AL runner(s)-up: Curtis Granderson, Josh Hamilton

- NL leader(s): Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers)
- Home runs: 41
- NL runner(s)-up: Giancarlo Stanton

Ever since he won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2007, Ryan Braun was hailed as one of the sport's future cornerstones. After winning a most valuable player award in 2011, Braun picked up his first home run title in 2012. However, he would soon fall from grace after getting suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. Braun still suits up for the Milwaukee Brewers but is far from the all-around offensive threat he was in his heyday.

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Jim Rogash // Getty Images

2013

- AL leader(s): Chris Davis (Baltimore Orioles)
- Home runs: 53
- AL runner(s)-up: Miguel Cabrera

- NL leader(s): Pedro Álvarez, Paul Goldschmidt (Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks)
- Home runs: 36
- NL runner(s)-up: Jay Bruce

Chris Davis was recently in the headlines for going 62 plate appearances without a hit. Connecting with the baseball used to be much easier for Davis, who hit no less than 26 home runs from 2012–17. Pedro Álvarez is one of the more surprising names in recent years to win a home run title, as he is currently out of the majors after hitting only nine homers from 2017–18.

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Stacy Revere // Getty Images

2014

- AL leader(s): Nelson Cruz (Baltimore Orioles)
- Home runs: 40
- AL runner(s)-up: Chris Carter

- NL leader(s): Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins)
- Home runs: 37
- NL runner(s)-up: Anthony Rizzo

In 2013, Nelson Cruz was suspended for 50 games for using performance-enhancing drugs. The next season, he led the American League in home runs. Needless to say, there was some debate over whether Cruz's accomplishment came cleanly. Giancarlo Stanton won his first home run title with far less controversy and criticism.

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Lisa Blumenfeld // Getty Images

2015

- AL leader(s): Chris Davis (Baltimore Orioles)
- Home runs: 47
- AL runner(s)-up: Nelson Cruz

- NL leader(s): Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper (Colorado Rockies, Washington Nationals)
- Home runs: 42
- NL runner(s)-up: Carlos González

In 2015, two of the game's brightest stars tied for the National League home run title. Nolan Arenado, perhaps baseball's best third baseman, led the majors with 130 runs batted in, while Bryce Harper, who also hit 42 home runs, won his first and only (so far) home run crown at age 22.

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Brian Blanco // Getty Images

2016

- AL leader(s): Mark Trumbo (Baltimore Orioles)
- Home runs: 47
- AL runner(s)-up: Nelson Cruz

- NL leader(s): Nolan Arenado, Chris Carter (Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers)
- Home runs: 41
- NL runner(s)-up: Kris Bryant

The Baltimore Orioles of the mid-2010s were full of powerful sluggers who struck out a lot. Alongside Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo could belt a ball out of the yard with a flick of the wrist, but also had a giant hole in his swing at times; he struck out 170 times in 2016. Nolan Arenado once again led the National League in home runs and the majors in runs batted in (133), while another free swinger, Chris Carter, tied Arenado with 41 homers.

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David Maxwell // Getty Images

2017

- AL leader(s): Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)
- Home runs: 52
- AL runner(s)-up: Khris Davis

- NL leader(s): Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins)
- Home runs: 59
- NL runner(s)-up: Cody Bellinger

In one of the more fascinating rookie seasons ever, 6-foot-7 Aaron Judge was a literal giant in the batter's box, mashing 52 home runs. Judge became an All-Star, won Rookie of the Year, and finished second in the most valuable player award race—and also became an immediate fan favorite in the Bronx. His future teammate, Giancarlo Stanton, had a career year, belting 59 homers.

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Dustin Bradford // Getty Images

2018

- AL leader(s): Khris Davis (Oakland Athletics)
- Home runs: 48
- AL runner(s)-up: J. D. Martinez

- NL leader(s): Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies)
- Home runs: 38
- NL runner(s)-up: Trevor Story

For the third time in six years, a Chris/Khris Davis won the American League home run title. Khris Davis had actually hit 40 or more home runs in his previous two seasons as well, but solidified himself as one of the game's top sluggers with his 2018 campaign, as the Oakland Athletics made a surprising run to the postseason. For the third time in four years, Nolan Arenado won a home run title, and every year between 2015 and 2018, the 28 year old has won a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger award, and been named to the All-Star team each season.

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