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Can anyone catch Hank Aaron?04/04/2003 12:00 AM ET
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Now that No. 500 is in Sammy Sosa's rear view mirror, could 755 be in his future? When Henry Aaron retired in 1976 with a record 755 career homers, many believed the mark would never be broken. Even Barry Bonds, who passed 600 homers last year and a man seemingly on a pace to eclipse Aaron, doesn't think he will get there.
If not Bonds, the two best bets to pass Aaron might be Sosa and Alex Rodriguez of Texas.
The Rangers shortstop will almost certainly get there if he maintains his present pace, though he would have to do so for another 12 years. Rodriguez, though he is in his eighth full season, has 300 career homers and is just 27 years old.
Sosa, however, needs only to continue approximating his recent track record for the next five to six seasons to eclipse Aaron. Because he is only 33, it is not difficult to believe the Cub right fielder will be able to maintain his pace. Since the 1994 season, Sosa hasn't hit fewer than 36 home runs in any season and has averaged 50.6 homers per year (405 total) over the previous seven seasons and just missed the 50-mark again in 2002 with 49 total.
Sosa hit 40 or more homers six of the last seven years and during the last five seasons has averaged 58.4 homers per year. At that pace, he would get there during the middle of the 2007 season.
Sosa, who is signed through 2005 with a club option for 2006, has been durable, missing only a dozen games in the last five years. Sosa has shown no signs of slowing down and if he remains healthy, should receive the at-bats he would need to have a shot at catching Aaron.
Sosa didn't want to characterize or speculate on his chances of catching Aaron. Obviously, a lot of things beyond his control can happen between now and any potential record breaker. But the math, like Sosa's chances of catching Aaron, looks good at this point.
Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com based in Houston. He can be reached at MLBmolony@aol.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.