Jenkins: Stanton vs. Bonds vs. history: how do we measure the home run record?

From Bruce Jenkins at the San Francisco Chronicle on August 30, 2017:

Hack Wilson, the legendary slugger of the Chicago Cubs, had a pretty fine day at the plate in 1999. He was deceased at the time. Seems he jumped out of the grave and singled a man home from second.

It turned out that Wilson’s record-setting number for RBIs, 190 in 1930, wasn’t quite accurate. After all those years, a detailed box score analysis revealed that teammate Charlie Grimm was mistakenly credited with an RBI that belonged to Wilson. So, check that — make it 191.

This has become common practice among baseball historians, correcting statistical misfires of the past, and as people weigh the merits of Giancarlo Stanton’s home-run-hitting season, it’s wise to remember a baseball truth: Its records are not sacred. Most of them are subject to interpretation, moralistic guidelines and retrospective judgment.

The issue really hits home in the Bay Area, where Barry Bonds authored his 73-homer season in 2001. Is that really the record, considering Bonds’ connection with performance-enhancing drugs? Should we comprehensively ignore Mark McGwire (70) and Sammy Sosa (66)? If Stanton hits 62 homers and surpasses Roger Maris’ 61 (in 1961, breaking Babe Ruth’s long-standing record of 60), is that the most authentic record? For that matter, are we absolutely certain that Stanton is clean?

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Originally published: August 30, 2017. Last Updated: August 30, 2017.