Not so long ago, I noticed that Albert Pujols had hit 408 home runs in his first 10 years in the majors. That really amazed me, Pujols had an average of over 40 home runs a year for 10 straight years.
It is truly amazing how difficult this is to accomplish, requiring excellence over an entire decade and a little bit of luck. As an example, lets look at Jim Thome. He's seventh all time in career home runs with 612, however he couldn't meet this mark of 400 over a decade due to an injury in 2005 which saw him hit only 7 home runs. Lou Gehrig came close hitting 390 home runs from 1927-1936, but a 27 home run season in 1928, a 32 home run season in 1933, and a 30 home run season in 1935 hurt his averages despite hitting 46 in 1931, 47 in 1927, and 49 in both 1934 and 1936.
So who has accomplished this amazing feat of 400 home runs in 10 years? Here's the list I've compiled.
1992-2001 = 425 HRs, 1993-2002 = 437 HRs, 1994-2003 = 436 HRs, 1995-2004 = 444 HRs, 1996-2005 = 416 HRs, 1997-2006 = 400 HRs
Barry Bonds has a large number of 10 year spans hitting 40 home runs for somewhat obvious reasons. A 73 home run season will carry you a long way and help average out some poorer season. In fact, his 1997-2006 run includes an injury plagued season in which he hit 5 home runs in 2006.
1918-1927 = 407 HRs, 1919-1928 = 450 HRs, 1920-1929 = 467 HRs, 1921-1930 = 462 HRs, 1922-1931 = 449 HRs, 1923-1932 = 455 HRs, 1924-1933 = 448 HRs, 1925-1934 = 424 HRs, 1926-1935 = 405 HRs
Babe Ruth had the most 10 year spans in which he hit atleast 400 home runs. He was amazingly consistent, hitting atleast 40 home runs 11 times in a 14 year range from 1920-1933 and hit more than 50 another four times. By comparison, Barry Bonds only had eight 40 home run seasons and eclipsed 50 home runs only during his record breaking 73 home run season.
Ken Griffey Jr.
1991-2000 = 400 HRs, 1992-2001 = 400 HRs
In 1995 Ken Griffey Jr. suffered an injury that lead him to hitting only 17 home runs that year. However, he was able to make up for it with several 56 home run seasons in 1997 and 1998.
1992-2001 = 421 HRs, 1993-2002 = 462 HRs, 1994-2003 = 469 HRs, 1995-2004 = 479 HRs, 1996-2005 = 457 HRs, 1997-2006 = 438 HRs, 1998-2007 = 402 HRs
Sammy Sosa's three 60 home run seasons really carried him in this list. He had the most home runs over a decade with 479 from 1995-2004. However, what's most interesting is that from 1997-2006 and 1998-2007, he was able to average 40 home runs over decade despite hitting ZERO home runs in 2006 when he temporarily retired.
1996-2005 = 424 HRs, 1997-2006 = 423 HRs, 1998-2007 = 454 HRs, 1999-2008 = 447 HRs, 2000-2009 = 435 HRs, 2001-2010 = 424 HRs
Not much needs to be said about Alex Rodriguez's runs of home runs. He's hitting them often and he's doing it year after year. He's got eight 40 home run seasons and three 50 home run seasons in his career.
1990-1999 = 405 HRs, 1992-2001 = 405 HRs
What's astounding about Mark McGwire's 400 home run spans is that he hit only 18 home runs from 1992 to 1993. Naturally, his numbers were carried by four 50 home run seasons, including his 70 home run season in 1998 and 60 home run season in 1997. Interestingly enough, due to Mark McGwire's terrible 1991, in which he hit only 22 home runs, he's the only player on this list to have a break between 400 home run decades (he hit 398 home runs from 1991-2000).
1961-1970 = 403 HRs
Harmon Killebrew is a good example of how luck is involved in accomplishing 400 home runs in a decade. In 1968 he suffered an injury that shortened his season and ultimately he only hit 17 home runs that year. His other great seasons were able to give him 400 home runs from 1961-1970, but not quite in any other 10 year range of his career.
1929-1938 = 413 HRs, 1930-1939 = 415 HRs, 1931-1940 = 414 HRs, 1932-1941 = 403 HRs
Jimmie Foxx's home run numbers are perhaps the least gaudy of the players listed here. He only eclipsed 40 home runs five times in his career, but did eclipse 50 twice.
2001-2010 = 408 HRs, 2002-2011 = 408 HRs, 2003-2012 = 404 HRs
Pujols remained very consistent during his prime years, bottoming out at only 32 home runs in 2007 and hitting below 35 home runs only one other time (34 in 2002).
Who hasn't hit atleast 400 home runs over a decade of their career? Interestingly enough, it includes a long list of other legends, most notably Hank Aaron with his 755 career home runs and Willie Mays with his 660 career home runs. Other legends like Mickey Mantle, Mike Schmidt, Reggie Jackson, Lou Gehrig, and Frank Robinson didn't accomplish this feat.
Interestingly, while Willie Mays never hit 400 home runs over a 10 year span, he did average over 40 home runs a year for an 11 and 12 year span. From 1954-1965, Willie Mays hit 481 home runs. But over any 10 year span in that range, he failed to reach 400 home runs. A pair of 29 home run seasons in 1958 and 1960 brought his average down just enough for any 10 year range in that part of his career.