When the player’s strike of 1994-95 ended, Major League Baseball began its 120th season of play. In the first 119 years, 50 home runs was a nearly unreachable plateau, reserved for the game’s true elite: It had been done only 18 times, by 11 players. Cecil Fielder had last reached the lofty mark, in 1990. Before him, no player had smashed 50 since George Foster in 1977.

That season, despite a strike-shortened 143-game schedule, Albert Belle cranked 50 home runs (and 52 doubles). It was the beginning of the long-ball era, and for 12 years there would be no letting up. Beginning with Belle, 23 players reached or exceeded 50 bombs in a single season from 1995-2007. Much of this, of course, was the result of well-documented steroid use. Still, the tater frenzy is historically remarkable.

For two consecutive seasons, though, the long balls dried up. No superstar, not even the venerable Albert Pujols, reached 50 homers in 2008 or 2009.

To re-open the doors to what was once one of baseball’s most elite sanctums, it took a virtually unknown 29 year-old journeyman named Jose Bautista. In a year otherwise known for the dominant performances of a dozen or more pitchers, Bautista‘s 52 home runs (with a week still to play) stand out.

But where does Bautista‘s power binge rank among the all-time list of 50-homer sluggers? The following is a ranking of all 42 50-home run season in MLB history. In formulating the rankings, steroid allegations and relative strength of league were considered, as was the run environment of the era in which the feat was accomplished.

Who’s No. 1? Who’s No. 42? Where do the infamous but dominant campaigns of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire rank? Read on.

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