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Dodgers and the 300-home-run milestone

Freddie Freeman, J.D. Martinez are within striking distance

Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman has 292 home runs, just eight shy of 300 in his career.
Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman has 292 home runs, just eight shy of 300 in his career.

A pair of Dodgers sluggers have a chance to reach a significant milestone in 2023, with first baseman Freddie Freeman and new designated hitter J.D. Martinez each closing in on 300 career home runs.

Anticipating milestones can be dangerous, because anything can happen in baseball. Just ask Fred McGriff, who came to Los Angeles in 2003 just 22 home runs shy of 500 home runs, coming off two 30-homer seasons and averaging 30 homers over the previous four years. McGriff was never on the injured list in his first 17 major league seasons, but missed three months with Los Angeles, leaving town with 491 career home runs.

Martinez has been one of the premier power hitters in baseball the last nine seasons, after turning his career around, partially thanks to a swing revamp helped by Robert Van Scoyoc, who is now the Dodgers hitting coach. Martinez has 282 career home runs, just 18 shy of 300. Getting there this year isn’t set in stone for the 35-year-old, who hit 16 home runs last season with the Red Sox.

Freeman is closer, with 292 career home runs under his belt, just eight shy of 300, a milestone only 153 major league players have reached.

Only two players have hit 300 home runs for the Dodgers, and both were teammates on the Boys of Summer teams. Duke Snider and Gil Hodges are also inextricably linked by their milestone homer, with both hitting No. 300 off the same pitcher, less than a year apart.

On July 20, 1957, in the Dodgers’ last year in Brooklyn, Snider hit his 300th home run against Cubs right-hander Dick Drott. Next April 23, after the Dodgers moved to the other side of the country in Los Angeles, Hodges hit his 300th homer, also at home against the Cubs, and also against Drott.

Just two other players hit their 300th career home run while with the Dodgers, and it took over four decades after Hodges to get the next one. When Gary Sheffield took Denny Neagle deep on July 21, 2001 at Coors Field, it was No. 300 in his career. Sheffield ended with 509 career home runs, and his 129 hit in three and a half years with the Dodgers were his most for any major league team.

The last Dodger to hit a 300th career home run while with the team was Adrián González on August 7, 2016, against Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa at Dodger Stadium.

Players hitting their 300th home run while with the Dodgers

Player Date of 300th HR Opponent Inning Pitcher Total HR w/Dodgers Career HR
Player Date of 300th HR Opponent Inning Pitcher Total HR w/Dodgers Career HR
Duke Snider Jul 20, 1957 Cubs 8th Dick Drott 389 407
Gil Hodges Apr 23, 1958 Cubs 7th Dick Drott 361 370
Gary Sheffield Jul 21, 2001 at Rockies 5th Denny Neagle 129 509
Adrián González Aug 7, 2016 Red Sox 7th Junichi Tazawa 101 317

There were some near-misses, too. By the time Jeff Kent got to Los Angeles, he had 302 home runs. Darryl Strawberry hit 258 home runs with the Mets before signing a five-year contract with the Dodgers, and hit 28 home runs in his first year back home in LA. But his Dodgers tenure ended with only 290 career homers.

Reggie Smith entered the 1981 season with 295 career home runs, but injuries and a midseason strike limited him to only 41 games, and one home run, that year. He left Los Angeles with 296 career home runs, and hit the 300-homer milestone with San Francisco in 1982, his final season.

This could be a busy year for folks reaching 300 home runs across baseball. Nolan Arenado is just one away, Andrew McCutchen has 287 homers, and Bryce Harper is at 285. Manny Machado and Anthony Rizzo each have 283 home runs, and Carlos Santana is lurking at 278 homers.

There could be several milestones this season.