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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

September 29, 2010 at 11:09 AM

’97 Mariners appear safe from Blue Jays homer onslaught

For awhile, I thought the Toronto Blue Jays had a shot at breaking the major-league record for home runs in a season, which happens to be held by the 1997 Seattle Mariners. Barring a tater barrage of huge proportions, it’s not going to happen.

The 1997 Mariners, a team remembered for mitigating its monstrous offensive attack with a problematic bullpen — resulting in the still-lamented July 31 trade of Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe to Boston for Heathcliff Slocumb , on the same day they dealt Jose Cruz to the Jays for Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric — whacked 264 out of the Kingdome.

]The Blue Jays, led by Jose Bautista’s 52, have hit 244 homers, with five games remaining. That leaves them 21 homers shy of breaking the record, requiring the Blue Jays to average 4.2 per game the rest of the way (against the Yankees tonight in Toronto, and then four at Minnesota’s Target Field, which has been a tough place to hit the ball out in its first season). That’s not out of the question; I found at least two games this year in which the Blue Jays hit five homers (May 14 vs. the Rangers and July 8 vs. the Twins, both at home). But I’d say Ken Griffey, Jay Buhner and Co. can probably rest easy, knowing their record will hold another year.

Just in comparison, this year’s Seattle team, playing its home games at a tougher hitters’ park, Safeco Field, enters today’s game in Texas with 99 homers (through 157 games), lowest total in baseball. That’s just three fewer than Griffey (56) and Buhner (40), had between the two of them in 1997. The Mariners’ current homer leader, Russ Branyan with 15, would tied for seventh on the 1997 Mariners. Here were their leaders:

Ken Griffey Jr. 56

Jay Buhner 40

Paul Sorrento 31

Edgar Martinez 28

Alex Rodriguez 23

Russ Davis 20

Dan Wilson 15

Jose Cruz Jr. 12

Joey Cora 11

The current Mariners have just three players in double figures in homers: Branyan (who leads despite not joining Seattle until June 26), Franklin Gutierrez (12) and Jose Lopez (10).

That 1997 Mariners’ team, by the way, scored 925 runs — a mere 424 more than the current M’s have through 157 games.

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