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Happy Birthday Steve Balboni

Posted by Andy on January 16, 2011

I just logged on to write a totally different post and saw on the front page that today is Steve Balboni's 54th birthday. Well, that changes everything. I am not going to miss an opportunity to write about Bye Bye Balboni.

Rk Player RBI HR OPS+ G PA AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Ron Kittle 460 176 110 843 3013 2708 356 648 100 3 236 744 .239 .306 .473 .779 7D/398 CHW-TOT-NYY-CLE
2 Steve Balboni 495 181 101 960 3440 3120 351 714 127 11 273 856 .229 .293 .451 .743 *3D NYY-KCR-TOT-TEX
3 Jim Gentile 549 179 136 936 3479 2922 434 759 113 6 475 663 .260 .368 .486 .854 *3 BRO-LAD-BAL-KCA-TOT
4 Woodie Held 559 179 108 1390 4645 4019 524 963 150 22 508 944 .240 .331 .421 .753 684579 NYY-TOT-CLE-WSA-BAL-CHW
5 Glenallen Hill 586 186 112 1162 4033 3715 528 1005 187 21 270 845 .271 .321 .482 .804 97D/8 TOR-TOT-CLE-CHC-SFG-ANA
6 Travis Hafner 603 176 139 941 3845 3252 524 913 220 10 498 772 .281 .385 .517 .902 *D/3 TEX-CLE
7 Chase Utley 650 177 129 1006 4324 3735 677 1095 237 28 423 669 .293 .380 .514 .894 *4/3D PHI
8 Del Crandall 657 179 95 1573 5581 5026 585 1276 179 18 424 477 .254 .312 .404 .716 *2/397 BSN-MLN-SFG-PIT-CLE
9 Justin Morneau 679 181 128 948 3949 3485 531 995 215 14 396 595 .286 .358 .511 .869 *3/D MIN
10 Matt Holliday 695 180 135 1012 4313 3833 668 1216 272 27 392 699 .317 .388 .543 .931 *7/D COL-TOT-STL
11 Jason Varitek 721 182 99 1478 5589 4877 632 1258 296 13 593 1149 .258 .343 .436 .778 *2/D BOS
12 Don Money 729 176 106 1720 6998 6215 798 1623 302 36 600 866 .261 .328 .406 .734 *546D3/7 PHI-MIL
13 Rich Aurilia 756 186 99 1652 6278 5721 745 1576 301 22 450 861 .275 .328 .433 .762 *6354/D SFG-TOT-CIN
14 Sam Chapman 773 180 107 1368 5600 4988 754 1329 210 52 562 682 .266 .342 .438 .780 *87/39 PHA-TOT
15 Tommy Henrich 795 183 132 1284 5409 4603 901 1297 269 73 712 383 .282 .382 .491 .873 *93/87 NYY
16 Joe Rudi 810 179 112 1547 6076 5556 684 1468 287 39 369 870 .264 .311 .427 .738 *73/D985 KCA-OAK-CAL-BOS
17 Brian Jordan 821 184 104 1456 5646 5160 755 1454 267 37 353 842 .282 .333 .455 .788 *978/D35 STL-ATL-LAD-TEX
18 Harlond Clift 829 178 116 1582 6894 5730 1070 1558 309 62 1070 713 .272 .390 .441 .831 *5/46 SLB-TOT-WSH
19 Chris Chambliss 972 185 109 2175 8305 7571 912 2109 392 42 632 926 .279 .334 .415 .749 *3/D CLE-TOT-NYY-ATL
20 Bob Watson 989 184 129 1832 6962 6185 802 1826 307 41 653 796 .295 .364 .447 .811 *37/D29 HOU-TOT-NYY-ATL
21 Babe Herman 997 181 141 1552 6226 5603 882 1818 399 110 520 553 .324 .383 .532 .915 *937 BRO-CIN-CHC-TOT-DET
22 Alan Trammell 1003 185 110 2293 9375 8288 1231 2365 412 55 850 874 .285 .352 .415 .767 *6/D5478 DET
23 Minnie Minoso 1023 186 130 1835 7710 6579 1136 1963 336 83 814 584 .298 .389 .459 .848 *75/983D6 CLE-TOT-CHW-STL-WSA
24 Willie Davis 1053 182 105 2429 9822 9174 1217 2561 395 138 418 977 .279 .311 .412 .723 *8/97D LAD-MON-TOT-SDP-CAL
25 Tony Lazzeri 1191 178 120 1740 7303 6297 986 1840 334 115 869 864 .292 .380 .467 .846 *45/673 NYY-CHC-TOT
26 Charlie Gehringer 1427 184 124 2323 10237 8860 1774 2839 574 146 1186 372 .320 .404 .480 .884 *4/35 DET
27 Harry Heilmann 1539 183 148 2147 8960 7787 1291 2660 542 151 856 550 .342 .410 .520 .930 *93/847 DET-CIN
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/16/2011.

These are the 27 players since 1901 to amass between 176 and 186 homers in their careers, with Balboni sitting right in the middle at 181. Included are several active players (Hafner, Utley, Morneau, Holliday, and Varitek) who are likely to fall off this list in 2011 when they go over 186 homers.

Balboni's ranks are amazing. He has the second fewest RBI in this group, 4th-lowest OPS+, 3rd-fewest walks, the lowest batting average, and the fewest runs scored. But he also has the 2nd-fewest plate appearances. As a result, he has the second-best rate of PA/HR, with his bombs coming at a rate of 1 every 19.0 plate appearances. Kittle is first in this group at 17.1 PA/HR while Gehringer's homers were the least frequent, at 1 per 55.6 PAs.

Obviously, eras in which these guys played are vastly different but Balboni may well be the ultimate Three True Outcomes player as a guy who so rarely put the ball in the hands of the defense. After all, among this group of 27, Balboni had the highest K rate, striking out once every 4.0 plate appearances (Gehringer was far and away the best at once every 27.5 PAs, followed by Harry Heilmann at 16.3). Balboni also has the second-lowest ratio of total hits to homers, referring to other types of hit as compared to his HR total. Balboni had a ratio of 3.94, meaning for every homer he hit, he had nearly 3 other non-HR hits. Gehringer was #1 in this category too, at a ratio of 15.4, meaning more than 14 other non-HR hits per HR.

Do you still want more about Balboni? I wrote about his 1988 Topps card here, and don't miss his 1988 Score Traded card here, featuring one photo showing him pulverizing, and another photo as a puppy.

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 16th, 2011 at 7:46 am and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

20 Responses to “Happy Birthday Steve Balboni”

  1. I remember him very well with the AAA Columbus Clippers.... Saw him and Marshall Brant whack back to back homers against the hometown Toledo Mudhens one summer night.... Bye Bye Balboni's shot was a laser that cracked the huge backdrop in dead center field about 30 feet above the ground, off the backdrop and ricochet back onto the field. The back wall was about 25 feet behind thte fence.... It was quite possibly the hardest hit ball I have seen in my 45 years associated with the game. Happy Birthday Steve.

  2. Remember Balboni's time in the majors and his prolific HRs. Was very surprised to run into Steve at one of my son Joes Varsity baseball games a few years back in Berkley Heights, NJ. Balbonis sons were on the Gov. Livingston team that Joes school was playing. I gave Steve a hello as I passed him by. He was runnig a baseball school (suprisingly with his stats) in the area!

  3. And Balboni is still the Royals all-time leader for home runs in a single season.

  4. Just to be clear, this post wasn't meant as a dig at Balboni...rather I was trying to point out how productive he was in a smallish number of ML plate appearances. The fact that he had a league-average OPS in the big leagues should not be overlooked--he may have been below-average for a first baseman or DH, and he got his stats somewhat unconventionally, but there's no arguing that he was productive to a significant degree.

  5. dukeofflatbush Says:

    239 minor league HRs.
    Does anyone know if that is the record?

  6. @Dukeofflatbush Buzz Arlett hit 432 HR in the minors.

    I notice that Mike Hessman has exactly 100 more minor league homers than Balboni did, and is still active to boot.

  7. Though come to think of it, you could argue that Sadaharu Oh is the minor league record holder.

  8. For some reason, "TOT" is listed as a team. I know Balboni played for Seattle, though I thought it was a lot longer than just part of a season.

  9. TOT in 1988 is the sum of his stints that year with the Royals and the Mariners.

  10. He was a feared hitter in his own way.

    I'm surprised he got 11 triples.

  11. @5, Dukeofflatbush et al., re: minor-league HR record:

    Just to offer another piece of information: B-R recognizes Hector Espino as the career minor-league HR leader, with 484.
    (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Home_run)
    All but 3 of those HRs came in Mexico, the bulk of those in the Mexican League. Unfortunately, his B-R minor-league page has just a tiny sampling of his career stats.
    (http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=espino001hec)

    I couldn't even guess the basis on which B-R chose to recognize Espino. If the Mexican League is considered a minor league, then why not the Japanese leagues, too? -- and thus, as Paul Drye said, Sadaharu Oh would be the minor-league HR leader. In fact the Japan Central and Pacific Leagues are listed on the B-R minor league home page (http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/); however, only the 2009 stats from those leagues are linked.

  12. Paul Drye re: Mike Hessman -- Did you notice that Hessman has a career .231 BA ... in the minors? I wonder if that might be a record low for a long career; Hessman has about 6,600 PAs on the farm.

  13. I have 2 reasons that I will never feel bad about the number of WS titles the Yankees have won.

    1) the end of the 1995 AL Wild Card seires Mariner's over Yanks.

    2) The following game includes my favorite Yankee moment of the 1980's (which is pretty sad). :)

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA198904140.shtml

    Down 4-1 in the bottom of the 5th (common in 1989) in that early season game, my college roomates and I watched "Bye Bye" crush a Grand Slam off of the reigning AL Cy Young award winner Frank Viola. Having rooted for Steve since his Columbus Clippers days, it was very exciting. Little did we know how bad the next 2 seasons would get.

    Side Note: In the same game as the Balboni Grand Slam, Al Lieter throw 163 pitches for the win.

  14. I remember Steve Balboni playing on the Nashville Sounds farm team in Tennessee. Pat Tabler, Brad Gulden, Mattingly and Jamie McWerly were also on the team. It was fun to watch them, tickets were ony two dollars.

  15. The Mexican League was part of the association of minor leagues; part of Organized Baseball. The Japanese leagues were not part Organized Baseball.

  16. [...] Luckily, Baseball-Reference’s blog was all over it. [...]

  17. I can't believe you didn't mention his world series championship.

  18. A late birthday gift for Balboni, He, Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken, Jr were elected to the International League Hall of Fame today.

  19. Quite nicely done really.

  20. here's a nice birthday gift for him...yesterday the International League announced they were putting him into their Hall of Fame...
    http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110124&content_id=16493048&vkey=news_milb&fext=.jsp