Chicago Cubs: Giancarlo Stanton chasing records; Sammy Sosa in his sights

Mandatory Credit: Vincent Laforet /Allsport
Mandatory Credit: Vincent Laforet /Allsport /

Giancarlo Stanton already has 50 home runs on the year and former Chicago Cubs’ outfielder Sammy Sosa may see his single-season home run record fall.

A lot has happened in Chicago since Sammy Sosa was last seen sprinting out to right field in a Chicago Cubs uniform. They’re a completely new ballclub now with different players, coaches, managers, ownership and of course – a World Championship flag flying above the center field seats.

Sosa is a majestic legacy to the Cubs franchise. He was a Cub for 13 seasons and launched 545 of his 609 home runs in Cubbie blue. Giancarlo Stanton’s torrid path to reaching Roger Maris‘ longstanding mark of 61 home runs in a season is reminiscent of Sosa’s sweet swinging taters of the late 90s and early 2000s.

In lieu of Stanton being on-pace to cracking the top 10 single-season home run record, let’s take a look back at Sosa’s legacy as one of the greatest home run hitters of all time.

Slammin’ Sammy brought fans back to the ballpark

Baseball attendance had endured a massive decline following the strike-shortened season of 1994. In 1998, the 29-year-old Dominican used Major League ballparks as a launching pad for home runs. He challenged Roger Maris’ 37 year-old record of 61 home runs and finished with 66. He finished four behind the newly-crowned home run king Mark McGwire.

More from Cubbies Crib

Sosa didn’t stop there however. He surpassed Maris again in 1999 and 2001 with 63 and 64 homers, respectively. He is the only player in Major League history to club more than 60 home runs in a season three times. His 2001 season stands as one of the greatest offensive seasons in history. He hit .328, smashed 64 home runs and knocked in 160 runs, while totalling 425 total bases.

While Sosa was hitting balls to the moon, the Cubs were playing poor baseball. They lost more than 90 games three times during Sosa’s most powerful years. Yet, fans still flocked to Wrigley Field in the hopes of being able to see Sosa’s trademark hop down the first base line after a long ball. Home games drew an average of 34,000 fans from 1999 to 2002. That’s almost unheard of for a 90-loss team. In 2003, Sosa hit his 500th home run, becoming the first Cub to do so since Ernie Banks. He is currently the Cubs’ all-time home run leader with 545.

Keep an eye out for Stanton

As Sosa’s home run totals and muscles began to grow, so too did baseball’s concern over steroid allegations. In the 16 years since MLB implemented the best drug testing policy in sports, nobody has hit the 60 home run plateau since Sosa and Barry Bonds in 2001.

Ryan Howard of the Phillies came close during the 2006 campaign when he hit 58. During a four-year stretch from 1998 to 2001 when home runs were rampant, the 60-homer mark was reached six times but hasn’t been reached since. The feat only happened twice before 1998 in all of baseball history thanks to Babe Ruth in 1927 and Maris’ 61 in 1961.

So enjoy this run baseball fans. Stanton is having a year. Entering Monday, the 27-year-old outfielder needs only 10 more taters in 38 games to join one of baseball’s most prized and exclusive clubs.

Next: Cubs, Verlander rumors continue to swirl - for some reason

The Miami Marlins outfielder is hitting the ball far, fast and frequently and could provide the single season leader board with some company that has been unchallenged since the Sosa days. Stanton would need some pretty impressive and powerful consistency in the next coming seasons if he wants to challenge Sammy Sosa’s slugging numbers from his days with the Cubs.