Lost in the media blitz surrounding Jonathan Broxton's pursuit of the single-season holds record is the fact that Barry Bonds is approaching the All-Time Career HR mark. While it's inevitable Bonds will soon pass Hank Aaron, conventional wisdom has Bonds dropping to #3 - behind Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols - within the next 15 years.
SoSG decided to take a graphical look at the HR pace of these sluggers to help evaluate this assertion. We plotted the HR progress of Aaron, Bonds, A-Rod, and Pujols, and just for fun threw Ken Griffey Jr and Babe Ruth into the mix. We then normalized the results by age to allow for proper comparison. This yielded the following:
The plot reveals a number of interesting trends:
- Griffey vs Bonds - Into their early 30's, Bonds couldn't hold Junior's jock in terms of HR production (at 31 Junior lead Bonds by a whopping 146 HR's). But the severe flattening of Griffey's trendline around age 32 reflects his injury problems, while the notable steepening of Bond's curve at age 36 reflects his, um, improved diet and training regimen. The result: Bonds eventually passes Griffey at 37.
- Aaron - His consistency put him on top. Aaron never produced single-season numbers equal to the others' best seasons, but he's The Greatest because he never waned from age 21 through age 40.
- The Babe - He was able to achieve the most consistently impressive HR pace from age 25 through 40, as the steep slope of his curve through this period suggests. Who knows where he'd be if he'd played past 40 or if he didn't spend his early years pitching.
- A-Rod - He's well ahead of any of the above legends. The plot illustrates how A-Rod will hit 500 more than two years before Ruth, Aaron, or Junior did (and four years before Bonds). Barring injury, A-Rod indeed seems destined to blow the roof off the record.
- Pujols - While still a bit early to be considered a true contender, his trendline reveals how he outpaced even ARod until his "slump" this season (plus, the end of the curve is somewhat distorted because the current season is still in progress). Let's check back in 5 years.