Presumably Sosa’s five-year stretch, 1998 through 2002, in which he hit 292 homers, set a record for slugging that we won’t see eclipsed for a long time. It was an average of 58 homers per season. Sosa missed a combined 23 games in the five seasons, and drew 92 walks per season: the 292 homers came in 3,005 at-bats, for nearly a 10% homer rate. He had 10 triples total, and 135 doubles total: the 292 homers more than doubled his 145 other extra base hits. The absurd statistics Barry Bonds put up in various seasons in the 2000s have obscured some of Sosa’s 2001 stats: a .737 slugging percentage, league-leading 37 intentional walks, 160 RBIs in 160 games, along with 146 runs scored. (Sosa also hit 3 homers in 3 different games in August and September of ’01.)
Considering these kinds of performances, it is amazing the speed with which Sosa vanished from the minds of baseball fans and journalists. He got 12.5% of the vote on his first Hall of Fame ballot, in 2013, then 7.2%, then 6.6%, and 7% in 2016. This wasn’t just because of steroids: Gary Sheffield, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro are among the offensive players who’ve exceeded Sosa’s 6.6% low-water mark in the past 4 years.