MLB home run hitters thrived in the 90s. With allegedly juiced balls and juiced hitters, the level of power was at an all-time high, and baseballs were leaving the park at a feverish pace.
As a fan, you couldn’t help but to be awestruck. The long ball madness began with Cecil’s Feilder’s 50 bombs in 1990 and reached a crushing crescendo in 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chased Roger Maris’ legendary home run record – a slugfest that captivated the entire nation.
Here are the top 10 home run hitters of the 90s.
10. Jeff Bagwell
“Bags” was a 3x Silver Slugger award winner, and averaged 29 home runs per season during the 90s. He also had one of the most iconic and intimidating batting stances of all time.
9. Cecil Fielder
Cecil “Big Daddy” Fielder ignited the decade’s onslaught of offense in 1990 when he became the first player since George Foster in 1977 to hit 50 home runs in a season. Most memorable was this tape-measure shot out of old Tiger Stadium. Fielder averaged 29 home runs per season for the remainder of the decade.
8. Fred McGriff
The “Crime Dog” wasn’t the flashiest of home run hitters, but he sure was steady. McGriff averaged 30 home runs per season, and led the National League with 35 in 1992. McGriff went yard at least 80 times with four different ball clubs, and finished his career with 493 total taters. He was also a 3x Silver Slugger award winner.
7. Juan Gonzalez
Juan “Gone” had crazy extension. He amassed five different seasons in the 90’s with 40 home runs or more and averaged 34 home runs per season for the entire decade. He also won 6 Silver Slugger Awards, 2 American League home run titles, and the 1993 Home Run Derby. Gonzalez finished his career with a total of 434 long balls.
6. Albert Belle
Albert “Joey” Belle was one of the most feared hitters in baseball history. Literally. He had an uncanny ability to turn his anger into prodigious power at the plate. The 5x Silver Slugger Award winner and 1995 American League home run leader averaged 39 dingers throughout the 90s. Belle had the 4th most home runs in the decade with 351, and ended with a career total of 381.
5. Frank Thomas
At 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, “The Big Hurt” was an intimidating force. Thomas won the American League MVP award in 1993 and 1994, thanks in part to 79 home runs between the two seasons. The 4x Silver Slugger award winner and the 1995 Home Run Derby champion averaged 30 home runs per season, enough to put him in our top 5 home run hitters of the 90s.
4. Sammy Sosa
“Slammin’ Sammy” Sosa made history when he hit 66 home runs in 1998, breaking Roger Maris’ 37 year old record of 61. Sosa won the hearts of baseball fans worldwide, but it was Mark McGwire who set the new single season home run record when he slugged 70 that same year. Also in 1998, Sosa hit 20 home runs in the month of June, the most ever hit by a player in a single month. He averaged 33 home runs per season during the 90s, hitting 545 home runs with the Cubs alone, and 609 total for his career.
3. Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds may be baseballs most controversial player of all time. Bonds currently owns the career and single-season home run records, however the latter happened after the 1990s. Regardless, steroids or not, Bonds put up some amazing numbers during the decade. He won 3 MVPs, 7 Silver Slugger awards, and a home run derby to boot. Bonds averaged 36 home runs per season and smashed 361 total dingers for the decade, good enough for third place on our list.
2. Mark McGwire
“Big Mac”, best known for the epic home run race with Sammy Sosa in 1998, obliterated Roger Maris’ long standing home run record of 61. McGwire hit 70 bombs that year. He followed that up the with 65 home runs in 1999. Mammoth home run shots were also his calling card, including this 538 foot bomb off of Randy Johnson in 1996. McGwire averaged 40 home runs per season during the 90s, was a 4x home run leader from 1996 to 1999, and finished with the most home runs in the decade with 405.
1. Ken Griffey Jr.
Ken “Junior” Griffey (aka “The Kid”) tops the list as the best home run hitter of the 90s. Griffey was by far the most consistent slugger during the decade, and he did it with style – the smile, the backwards hat, the majestic swing, and of course his iconic celebratory stare-down. He also did it with pure clean power (see moon shot in Toronto) unlike many of his juiced opponents, which gives him the slight edge. During the 90s, Griffey was a 7x Sliver Slugger award winner, 4x American League home run leader, and a 3x home run derby champion. If you exclude 1995 (in which Junior missed over half the season due to a broken wrist), he averaged 41 home runs per season. He also had the second most home runs in the decade with 382 and finished his career with 630 bombs.