In 2002 I went on a baseball tour with my friend. We ended the tour at Wrigley Field and Sammy Sosa was in right field. It was the first season after Sammy hit 60 for the third time. Sandwiched in between his three years in the 60s was a year with 50 homeruns that Sosa hit “only” 50 but won the homerun title. In 2002 in hit “only” 49 and won the homerun title. He didn’t win the homerun title in any of the three years he hit 60 or more.
So, my friend at the game and I the crowd was just wild about Sosa. If he ran for mayor of Chicago he would have won as some White Sox fans would have voted for him. Sosa knew this as he interacted with the fans the whole game. He had fun and the fans had fun. It was a special moment despite the Cubs loss to the Astros in extra innings.
Sammy came up at the age of 20 and played 18 years. However, despite the three years of hitting 60 homeruns he has only 58.6 WAR in Baseball Reference. Let us see. Sosa has that rarity a 10 WAR season. He had this in 2001, not 1998. In 2001 Sammy not only hit 64 homeruns, he batted .328 and walked 116 times, one of two times he had over 100 walks. The other was 2002 the year I saw him.
However, Sammy’s second best season with 1998 but he had a WAR of “only” 6.5. Sammy then had 4 years with 5 to 6 WAR. With 5 being the amount needed for an all star that limits Sammy’s all-star years.
While Sammy came in the league at age 20 it wasn’t until his 5th season he became a regular player. Then he was only a regular 10 years, with two of those years below 3 WAR. So, his career was shorter than I would have thought.
Also, something strange happened. When Sosa did his jump to 66 homeruns his defense went from great to average, that being a bit suspicious. It is interesting I don’t remember Sosa ever being that great of a fielder.
Sosa had an interesting career, but his stats makes me comfortable giving him a steroid penalty. I would have no problem if he was elected to the hall of fame, but he wouldn’t be a player I would be pushing. However, he gave the Cub fans a lot of thrills in his 5 peak years.