For years the all-time home run leaders list kept by Major League Baseball has been under fire for trying to compare different generations of hitters. Finally somebody came up with a solution, but at whose expense?

In the July 12th edition of ESPN the Magazine featured an article entitled “If We Had A Hammer …”, in which the sports media mogul examined the much criticized home run list. In addition to providing the current disputed list, ESPN created the Player Era-to-Era Translation (PEET) for all-time home run list.

First off let’s begin with the list as it stands in Cooperstown:

  1. Barry Bonds (762)
  2. Hank Aaron (755)
  3. Babe Ruth (714)
  4. Willie Mays (660)
  5. Ken Griffey Jr. (630)
  6. Sammy Sosa (609)
  7. Alex Rodriquez (599) *
  8. Frank Robinson (586)
  9. Mark McGwire (583)
  10. Harmon Killebrew (573)

All players except for New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriquez are retired, making this list much easier to keep track of than other records. However the home run record has taken an enormous amount of criticism for the differences in the game of baseball from the time of Babe Ruth to Barry Bonds. In that spirit the PEET list goes as follows:

  1. Hank Aaron (724)
  2. Babe Ruth (663)
  3. Barry Bonds (660)
  4. Mel Ott (650)
  5. Willie Mays (628)
  6. Reggie Jackson (578)
  7. Frank Robinson (578)
  8. Ted Williams (568)
  9. Mike Schmidt (557)
  10. Harmon Killebrew (552)

Obviously with any theoretical adjustment of a record book somebody will not be happy with the changes. In this case that ball falls into the court of modern sluggers like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire and Alex Rodriquez. For these sluggers, steroids have been a largely unproven (or proven in Rodriquez’s case) cloud hanging over head. Logically these sluggers would have been left off when factoring in the live-ball era of baseball.

However one modern hitter was left off rather unjustly in this writer’s opinion. Long time Seattle Mariner Ken Griffey Jr, ranked fifth on the current home run leaders list, fails to grace the top ten in the PEET list. Granted, Griffey hit his 630 home runs during the live-ball era. However Griffey has never been associated with steroids or any other performance enhancing drug.

In general the dead-ball era hitters have been favored, which is how it should be given the nature of the game at that time. However the steroid bias of the live-ball era has clearly impacted even the presumably clean hitters.

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