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More homers than strikeouts in a season

Posted by Andy on February 24, 2011

A reader asked me to post a list of all seasons where a batter had more home runs than strikeouts, minimum 20 homers. There have been 45 such seasons since 1901, and you can click through to see them all.

Rk Player HR SO Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Johnny Mize 51 42 1947 34 NYG 154 664 586 137 177 26 2 138 74 .302 .384 .614 .998 *3
2 Ted Kluszewski 49 35 1954 29 CIN 149 659 573 104 187 28 3 141 78 .326 .407 .642 1.049 *3
3 Lou Gehrig 49 46 1936 33 NYY 155 719 579 167 205 37 7 152 130 .354 .478 .696 1.174 *3
4 Lou Gehrig 49 31 1934 31 NYY 154 690 579 128 210 40 6 165 109 .363 .465 .706 1.172 *3/6
5 Ted Kluszewski 47 40 1955 30 CIN 153 686 612 116 192 25 0 113 66 .314 .382 .585 .967 *3
6 Joe DiMaggio 46 37 1937 22 NYY 151 692 621 151 215 35 15 167 64 .346 .412 .673 1.085 *8
7 Barry Bonds 45 41 2004 39 SFG 147 617 373 129 135 27 3 101 232 .362 .609 .812 1.422 *7/D
8 Mel Ott 42 38 1929 20 NYG 150 674 545 138 179 37 2 151 113 .328 .449 .635 1.084 *9/4
9 Ted Kluszewski 40 34 1953 28 CIN 149 629 570 97 180 25 0 108 55 .316 .380 .570 .950 *3
10 Johnny Mize 40 37 1948 35 NYG 152 658 560 110 162 26 4 125 94 .289 .395 .564 .959 *3
11 Joe DiMaggio 39 30 1948 33 NYY 153 669 594 110 190 26 11 155 67 .320 .396 .598 .994 *8
12 Stan Musial 39 34 1948 27 STL 155 694 611 135 230 46 18 131 79 .376 .450 .702 1.152 987/3
13 Ken Williams 39 31 1922 32 SLB 153 678 585 128 194 34 11 155 74 .332 .413 .627 1.040 *78
14 Ted Williams 37 27 1941 22 BOS 143 606 456 135 185 33 3 120 147 .406 .553 .735 1.287 *7/9
15 Andy Pafko 36 32 1950 29 CHC 146 595 514 95 156 24 8 92 69 .304 .397 .591 .989 *8/9
16 Willard Marshall 36 30 1947 26 NYG 155 656 587 102 171 19 6 107 67 .291 .366 .528 .894 *9
17 Al Simmons 36 34 1930 28 PHA 138 611 554 152 211 41 16 165 39 .381 .423 .708 1.130 *7/8
18 Ted Kluszewski 35 31 1956 31 CIN 138 574 517 91 156 14 1 102 49 .302 .362 .536 .898 *3
19 Joe DiMaggio 32 21 1938 23 NYY 145 660 599 129 194 32 13 140 59 .324 .386 .581 .967 *8
20 Lefty O'Doul 32 19 1929 32 PHI 154 731 638 152 254 35 6 122 76 .398 .465 .622 1.087 *79
21 Joe DiMaggio 31 30 1940 25 NYY 132 572 508 93 179 28 9 133 61 .352 .425 .626 1.051 *8
22 Yogi Berra 30 29 1956 31 NYY 140 597 521 93 155 29 2 105 65 .298 .378 .534 .911 *2/7
23 Yogi Berra 30 24 1952 27 NYY 142 605 534 97 146 17 1 98 66 .273 .358 .478 .835 *2
24 Joe DiMaggio 30 13 1941 26 NYY 139 621 541 122 193 43 11 125 76 .357 .440 .643 1.083 *8
25 Joe DiMaggio 30 20 1939 24 NYY 120 524 462 108 176 32 6 126 52 .381 .448 .671 1.119 *8
26 Bill Dickey 29 22 1937 30 NYY 140 608 530 87 176 35 2 133 73 .332 .417 .570 .987 *2
27 Ted Williams 28 24 1955 36 BOS 98 417 320 77 114 21 3 83 91 .356 .496 .703 1.200 *7
28 Yogi Berra 28 12 1950 25 NYY 151 656 597 116 192 30 6 124 55 .322 .383 .533 .915 *2
29 Ted Williams 28 21 1950 31 BOS 89 416 334 82 106 24 1 97 82 .317 .452 .647 1.099 *7
30 Tommy Holmes 28 9 1945 28 BSN 154 713 636 125 224 47 6 117 70 .352 .420 .577 .997 *97/8
31 Bill Terry 28 23 1932 33 NYG 154 677 643 124 225 42 11 117 32 .350 .382 .580 .962 *3
32 Yogi Berra 27 20 1955 30 NYY 147 615 541 84 147 20 3 108 60 .272 .349 .470 .819 *2
33 Yogi Berra 27 20 1951 26 NYY 141 594 547 92 161 19 4 88 44 .294 .350 .492 .842 *2
34 Bill Dickey 27 22 1938 31 NYY 132 532 454 84 142 27 4 115 75 .313 .412 .568 .981 *2
35 Johnny Mize 25 24 1950 37 NYY 90 305 274 43 76 12 0 72 29 .277 .351 .595 .946 *3
36 Joe DiMaggio 25 24 1946 31 NYY 132 567 503 81 146 20 8 95 59 .290 .367 .511 .878 *8/7
37 Ken Williams 25 14 1925 35 SLB 102 462 411 83 136 31 5 105 37 .331 .390 .613 1.003 *7
38 George Brett 24 22 1980 27 KCR 117 515 449 87 175 33 9 118 58 .390 .454 .664 1.118 *5/3
39 Mickey Cochrane 23 22 1932 29 PHA 139 625 518 118 152 35 4 112 100 .293 .412 .510 .921 *2/7
40 Bill Dickey 22 16 1936 29 NYY 112 472 423 99 153 26 8 107 46 .362 .428 .617 1.045 *2
41 Lefty O'Doul 22 21 1930 33 PHI 140 606 528 122 202 37 7 97 63 .383 .453 .604 1.057 *7
42 Lefty O'Doul 21 20 1932 35 BRO 148 657 595 120 219 32 8 90 50 .368 .423 .555 .978 *7
43 Irish Meusel 21 19 1925 32 NYG 135 557 516 82 169 35 8 111 26 .328 .363 .548 .912 *7/9
44 Frank McCormick 20 17 1944 33 CIN 153 645 581 85 177 37 3 102 57 .305 .371 .482 .853 *3
45 Ernie Lombardi 20 19 1939 31 CIN 130 494 450 43 129 26 2 85 35 .287 .342 .487 .829 *2
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/23/2011.

There's a heck of a lot of bold ink sprinkled through this list, indicating just how special many of these seasons were.

Notice that since 1956, it's only been done twice--by George Brett in 1980 and Barry Bonds in 2004.

66 Responses to “More homers than strikeouts in a season”

  1. jnolan33177 Says:

    you dont see that much anymore!! its like they just think striking out is OK. rather than talk a walk, or a single, they want a home run so bad for their stats, that theyd rather strike out and hurt the team!! Theres no way that them guys were any different from todays, yet they never struck out. Pitching maybe better, but not to the poit that every team has multiple guys that strike out 150-200 times every year

  2. rdonofrio Says:

    And only Joe D, from this list, came close to having more homers then strikeouts in his career.

  3. Larry R. Says:

    How about Tommy Holmes! 9 Ks in 636 ABs...unreal. I know it's wartime, but c'mon. 1 K per 70 ABs!

  4. capnjiffy Says:

    Although I partially agree with #1, I really think the uptick in strikeouts is at least partially due to a hitter nowadays probably seeing 200 different pitchers in a season whereas in the 1940s they probably saw the same 50 guys.

  5. Dr. Doom Says:


    1.) Ted Williams. My goodness. Are you kidding me? Hitting .400, hitting 37 homers, and striking out only 27 times? Well, since he's always wanted people to say it, here it goes: "There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived."

    2.) The player I find most puzzling/interesting, and the one that I think it hardest to find a modern comp for, is probably not the person most people would think of. For me, it's Kluszewski. I don't understand how a guy, who's basically Adam Dunn, only strikes out 34 or 35 times in a season. Many said he was the strongest player who ever played. And in his big homer stretch (1953-1956), he hit 171 homers and struck out only 140 times. Adam Dunn has to strike out more than that just to hit 40 HRs! It's pretty crazy.

    3.) The most common categories in which the league was led on this list are HRs (not surprising in a list looking for a high number of HR) and batting average. That was a little weird to me at first, until I thought about it for about 2 seconds. It makes sense. Fewer strikeouts means more balls in play. More balls in play means more chances to get on base. If a guy is hitting .300 for a BABIP, and then you add 30 HR and 24 Ks in 541 AB (those are the medians of each category, not just pulled out of the air - and, interestingly, they all belong to Joe D.), that's a .325 average, which is a darn good average. Now, factor in a couple of outliers, or just guys farther from the median, and you can suddenly see why a lot of batting titles (10 out of the 45) for this group makes sense.

    4.) One Triple Crown and a bunch of near misses. Kluszewski in '54 (led in HR and RBI, finished 5th in Avg), Musial in '48 (led in Avg and RBI, one short in HR), Gehrig's actual Triple Crown, and some other close calls from DiMaggio and Williams. Yikes. This is a good group of hitters.

  6. Dr. Doom Says:

    Whoops. Kept the bold on. Still getting used to HTML. Sorry.

  7. MClark Says:

    Capnjiffy has to be right on this. Think of batting practice, or homerun competitions. If batters had to face a whole bullpen of arms during a hitting session it would be hard to groove a swing or develop timing. Familiarity breeds comfort.

  8. Patrick Says:

    Pujols has come fairly close to it a few times. In 2006 he had 49 homers to 50 strikeouts.

  9. Atom Says:

    Pujols came extremely close in 06' 49 home runs and 50 strike outs.

  10. Zack Murphy Says:

    A brief moment of amazed silence in honor of Musial's '48. OMG. I'd never really focused on that season (and '46) of Musials. Amazing.

    To lead the league in so many categories, even somewhat dichotomous numbers like RBI and triples....

    Black ink in hits, runs, doubles, triples, BA, OBP, slugging, OPS (obviously) - I'm sure someone has led in more categories in a season, but to have all the biggies (except HRs)? Wow.

  11. Andy Says:

    With regards to #5, I have to agree. When one delves in Williams' numbers, it's hard to come to any conclusion other than that he was the greatest hitter to ever play MLB---as far as greatest who ever lived, well that's quite a bit harder to determine. But I'll give him the title for best in MLB.

  12. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    "...Notice that since 1956, it's only been done twice--by George Brett in 1980 and Barry Bonds in 2004."

    In 2006, Albert Pujols came very close, with 49 HR's and 50 SO's. To me, this is much more impressive than most of the 20-30 HR guys listed here.

    #1/,,, Jnolan33177 Says: "you dont see that much anymore!! its like they just think striking out is OK. rather than talk a walk, or a single, they want a home run so bad for their stats, that theyd rather strike out and hurt the team!!..."

    I think that most batters would gladly trade a couple strikeouts for a HR; the negative value of the out is greatly exceeded by the positive value of a HR. It's a trade-off that every batter calculates, every time they see a pitch.

  13. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Being a Redlegs fan, I would be remiss if I didn't point out Ted Kluszewski here. I wonder why he never got any consideration for the Hall of Fame, aside from the brevity of his "peak" seasons.

  14. Mike S. Says:

    @ #2: Check out Yogi.

  15. Artie Z Says:

    A comp for Big Klu - at least as a hitter - Donnie Baseball. Now I know that Mattingly didn't really come across as the strongest player in baseball during his time, but their careers look fairly close, especially if you rearrange Big Klu's career to put his 1953-1956 seasons at the beginning of his career. Both .300 hitters with a .350 OBP, both around 30 oWAR, both walked more than they struck out ... both had a few really big years where they did well in MVP voting. Klu didn't win an MVP but finished 2nd once to some nobody named Willie Mays and finished 6th and 7th in two other years (behind, incredibly enough, 5 and 6 guys who are all HOFers). Mattingly hit more 2Bs and Klu homered more often. While Mattingly doesn't quite make this list, he did hit 31 HR one year while striking out only 35 times.

    And I started writing this before comment 13 mentioning Big Klu and the HOF ...

    @10 - Check out Honus Wagner's 1908 season. He did basically the same thing that Musial did except he led in SB and "only" finished 2nd in runs scored. He also finished 2nd in HR. And he did it while playing shortstop.

  16. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #10/ Zack Murphy Says: "A brief moment of amazed silence in honor of Musial's '48...To lead the league in so many categories, even somewhat dichotomous numbers like RBI and triples.... I'm sure someone has led in more categories in a season, but to have all the biggies (except HRs)? Wow."

    In 1887, Tip O'Neill led in all the same categories as 1948 Musial, _plus_ HRs. This is the only time a player has led in 2B/ 3B/ HR in one year. Some people don't consider 19th century performances - if so, Ty Cobb in 1909 (+HR) and 1911 (-OBP) was very close to 1948 Musial, plus leading in SB's each year.

    #8; #9 - (Pujols) - sorry, I was typing when you posted ...

  17. Doug B Says:

    With this stat I've always thought of DiMaggio first. Now I'll have to think of Klu's 4 consective seasons. Wow.

    And of course, nobody has even mentioned "he who must not be nammed". He's like Voldemort or something. 39 years old. More K's than homers. On roids and HGH most likely. But almost impossible to get out 4 times in a game.

  18. Whiz Says:

    It's not surprising that the list has a lot of 1B and OF players and no middle infielders (since it's a power-related list), but I didn't expect to see almost as many C. Of course, it was mostly only two players (Berra and Dickey).

    And yes Holmes' 28/9 HR/SO ratio in 1945 was unreal. Lombardi had 19/11 that year, just below the cut-off.

    The record for most PA without a SO in a season is Lloyd Waner, 234 in 1941. He also had no HR that year, so his BAbip and BA were the same, .292, and based on the same number of PA! (This covers the years from 1910 in the NL and from 1913 in the AL -- before that SO were not recorded.)

  19. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #15/... Artie Z Says: "A comp for Big Klu - at least as a hitter - Donnie Baseball..."

    Artie Z - an excellent comparison, even though neither one is in each other's "most similar batters". They had similar slash stats and OPS+ {127/123, Mattingly}. Mattingly has about 9 more career WAR, mainly because he had about 1300 PA.

    Another similarity (between them) is that both had great careers cut short by serious back troubles. Klu also had amongst the most scary-looking biceps in MLB history; no wonder he cut his short sleeves shorter...

  20. barkie Says:

    What a thread!!!!

    Anyone that knows me on this site knows how I loathe the Mark Reynolds of this world- freeswingers who just guess.

    When I started worshiping the easy access to stats, I developed a deep respect for Ted Kluszewski. What discipline for a guy known as a pure smasher.

  21. Artie Z Says:

    I would have to disagree slightly with #1 in that the players today - at least some of the ones who strike out a lot, like Dunn and Bobby Abreu - absolutely understand the value of taking a walk. Other than a few of the really, really, really upper echelon hitters on this list - Bonds, Williams, Gehrig - there do not seem to be many walks being taken by the guys on this list.

    Big Klu only once in his career placed in the top 10 in walks, with a 7th place finish. A lot of the other players on this list have similar appearances on the walk leaderboard - DiMaggio never had a top 10 finish in walks (don't interpret this as me saying that DiMaggio isn't one of the 20 greatest players in MLB history - it is a fact that he didn't walk much, just that). Berra never placed in the top 10 in walks. Brett did it three times in his career. These are all fantastic players, inner circle HOF guys (other than Big Klu), but they just didn't walk much relative to their peers.

    Adam Dunn has placed in the top 7 (technically top 6) in walks 7 times in his career. His only full season in which he didn't place in the top 6 in walks was 2010. Bobby Abreu has finished in the top 10 in walks for about a dozen years now, finishing as high as 2nd (actually, he led MLB in BBs in 2006 playing for both leagues). For some of the players strikeouts and walks go hand in hand - you take pitches, sometimes strikes, in order to work the count. Sometimes it leads to strikeouts, and sometimes it leads to walks.

    And sometimes you have guys like Adam LaRoche or Drew Stubbs or Mike Napoli who fall pretty much into the category that #1 describes - hitting 25 HR, walking 50 times, and striking out 140 times. Whether or not their teams would be better off if they tried to make more contact is debatable. But I think it's too broad of a generalization to say that none of the guys today who strike out a lot take a walk or understand the value of a walk.

  22. barkie Says:

    Good God, look at that list.

    Those are some of the greatest seasons in the history of the game!

  23. barkie Says:

    Artie, neither the thread, nor # 1, is about walks. It's about players who post monstrous power numbers while almost never striking out.

    I hope you're not implying that even the even the best of Dunn's seasons compares with any of these.

  24. dukeofflatbush Says:

    I just was playing with the PI tool to see if any players came close, while besting Mize's 51 HRs, which leads this very interesting list.
    What amazed me is Roger Maris in '61. I know he only hit .269, but had just 67 SO. That's 91%. Pretty good.
    Also, the guys who are pointing out the amazing seasons out there, have to see Brett's .390/'80 season. More RBIs than hits AND less SO than HR.

  25. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Sorry, I meant Brett had more RBIs than game played, not hits.

  26. barkie Says:

    Duke, I'm with you about Brett's .390 season. One of the very best of the last 50 years. I got goosebumps.

  27. Tmckelv Says:

    As soon as I saw the title of the thread I thought of Joe D., obviously. But Yogi being on here surprises me because he was a free swinger...I guess he was a free swinger that cold make contact with any pitch anywhere.

  28. Richard Chester Says:

    The Baseball Maniac's Almanac has a similar list but with a minimum of 10 home runs. Since 1901 the feat has been accomplished 65 times. The player with the fewest strikeouts was Joe Sewell with 11 HRs and 3 Ks in 1932.

    Did anyone notice that the list above contains 18 occurrences by Yankees players?

    @2: Joe DiMaggio actually had more career HRs than Ks up to his last season.

    @10 and 16: In 1944 George Stirnweiss led the league in 11 categories (including SB) although a couple were not that important (PA and BA). Also 1909 and 1911 are 20th century years.

  29. Pat Lync Says:

    Why in the hell did it take Johnny Mize so long to get into the hall? My god what a great hitter, and he missed 3 full seasons to the war.

  30. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #29/ Pat Lync Says: "Why in the hell did it take Johnny Mize so long to get into the hall?..."

    Pat, Mize is one the BBWAA's worst oversights for HOF voting, along with Arkie Vaughan, Sam Crawford, and Home Run Baker.

    Maybe it was the way his career ended, as a platoon player/pinch-hitter his last 3+ years, with the Yankees. Maybe he ticked off a lot of sportswriters.

  31. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    29 and 30.

    Mize waiting so long to make the Hall was an injustice; but no oversight. It was more of a political slight, designed by the owners because Mize basically got on Branch Rickey's bad side. I don't recall all of the particulars, but I do recall a lot of dust flying when Mize moved on to the Polo Grounds.

  32. John Q Says:

    Pat Lync,

    I always found the Mize omission as very strange in retrospect. I think a big problem was that he played with the Cardinals during a relatively down period from 1936-1941. Mize's Cardinals never made the post-season and bridged a gap between those great Gas House Gang Cardinal teams from 1926-1934 and Musial's WW2 era Cardinals from 1942-1946.

    Then he went to the Giants and played on those pre Willie Mays Giants from 1942, 1946-1949.

    He didn't play on a National Stage in the post-season until he was 36 years old part-time player with the 1949 Yankees.

    I guess they didn't factor in his 3 lost years during WW2. Maybe not playing on a National Stage and being a Part-Time player with the Yankees from 1949-1953 hurt his perception a little bit.

    It's odd but in some ways he reminds me of Tim Raines. Raines had a couple of post season appearances but was essentially overlooked up in Montreal, Raines missed time because of Two Strikes and collusion, then he became a part-time player in his mid 30's on post-season Yankee teams.

  33. John Q Says:

    I would think one of the reasons there are more strikeouts today is that batters are seeing more pitches per plate appearance in an effort to draw more walks and wear-out opposing pitchers.

    We don't have the data going that far back, but if you check it appears batters are seeing more pitchers every year. In 2010 the National League Average for Pitches per Plate Appearance was 3.83. In 1999 it was 3.72. And in 1989 it was 3.53.

  34. Richard Chester Says:


    I meant AB, not BA.

  35. John Q Says:

    Brett's 1980 season is kind of amazing when you think he only played 117 games that year. If he had played about 150 games he would have ended up with 230+ hits 45 doubles, 150+ rbi's and 111 runs scored. Those would have been insane numbers for 1980. Only two players had hit 230+ hits, 110+ runs scored and 110+ rbi in the same season from 1947-1979, Stan Musial in 1948 and Tommy Davis in 1962.

  36. MikeD Says:

    The swing-hard-all-the-time approach of today's hitters means it's less likely we'll see these types of seasons again, although we did see it from Bonds, and Pujols came close in 2004 and 2006, and Brett did it in the early 80s, which may also indicate simply that it takes an extraordinary hitter, no matter what era, to accomplish the task.

    Take a look at that list. I did a quick scan, and they are all in the HOF but for nine of them, and even those guys were extraordinary players, all-stars for the most part. Guys like Ted Kluszewski, Ken Williams and Pafko were HOF-caliber players for parts of their careers. Who's the "worst" player on the list? Willard Marshall? Even he had a career OPS+ of 109, and missed more than three years because of World War II.

    And I can't let this posting pass without a few words about Lefty O'Doul. If Rob Neyer plans to continue his Hall of the Amazing, Lefty O'Doul needs to be included. Makes it to the Majors as a pitcher, blows his arm out, goes back to the Pacific Coast League to remake himself as a hitter, and despite being one of the best hitters in the league for four or five years (hit over .390 twice, including one season with more than 300 hits), he wasn't given a chance back in the Majors until he's 31. Considering what he did during a five-year period starting in his 30s, it looks like his chances for a HOF career were left in the PCL. Still holds the NL record for hits in a single season and has the highest batting average of any player not in the Hall. Is a member of the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame for his work in helping popularize baseball in Japan; personally named the Tokyo Giants baseball team in honor of the NY Giants; was one of the most successful minor league managers ever; helped guide Joe DiMaggio's career in the PCL; his pub/restaurant Lefty O'Doul's Restaurant still operates to this day; and, oh yeah, three times in the Majors he had seasons in which he had more HRs than strikeouts.

    I can only imagine what kind of career O'Doul would have had if he came up originally as an OFer, and remained on the NY Yankees with that lefty swing and the short porch in the Bronx.

    So, yeah, looking at that list, you gotta be real good hitter to have even a single season of more HRs than strikeouts, or even come close.

  37. barkie Says:

    Just a theory on Mize:

    His career was dimmed by his competitors at first base- Gehrig, Foxx, Greenberg.

    I think that someone like Prince Fielder might one day face this dilemma. His numbers project out to be HOF material, but at the end of the day many will argue that he was the fifth or sixth best first basemen of his generation.

  38. Jon S C Says:

    Not completely on topic (but maybe a future blog?)...when it comes to pitchers, the only one with 5 or more HRs to accomplish this is Art Nehf. In 1924, he hit 5 Homeruns vs. 4 Strikeouts (plus half decent pitching numbers as well). The next closest was Wes Ferrell in 1931, and 1935....

  39. Doug B Says:

    Re: Prince Fielder as the fifth or sixth best first basemen of his generation.

    Other than possibly Miguel Cabrera if he gets his life straight I'm not sure any one of them emerges from Pujols' shadow.

    Let's assume Thome is in but maybe from a different generation.

    Ryan Howard, A. Gonzalez, Fielder, Teixeira... they all seem like 3a, 3b, 3c, and 3d to me. I don't know how anyone will be able to say any of these guys rise above the very good players of their day into hall of fame status.

  40. barkie Says:

    #38. What a gem!

    The advent of the DH has really diminished the visibility of a hitting pitcher. I'm in awe of guys like Bob Gibson (20 + HRs), McNally and Maddux who looked at every way that they could contribute to their teams, not just on the hill.

  41. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #33, others - I think that batter strikouts are considered _vastly_ less of a liability now, than they were 50/75/100 years ago. In the early sixties, even the greatest sluggers such as Mantle and Killebrew got a lot of criticism for their high strikeout total. By the early seventies, it was much more accepted that sluggers such as Stargell, Jackson, and Perez were going to strike out a lot as the "price" for hitting lots of HR's.

    Now, as far as my enjoyment of watching any particular baseball game goes, I'd rather see the ball put in play (than not), but the best "Three True Outcomes" players (lots of K's/ walks/ HR's) seem to put up a lot of runs on the scoreboard. There is no one single way of creating runs that is "better" or "worse" than the others; good players will find a way to either get on base, or move runners along and in; it's the great players that can do both of these things...

  42. barkie Says:


    Your 3a, 3b, etc would really be 6a, 6b, 6c with the tie. I purposely didn't list them in what I thought their order would be. My point is, do you get to the Hall when you are not even clearly the fifth best guy at your position. I think that's what hurt Mize.

  43. Cyril Morong Says:

    One thing I posted a few years ago was

    Which Players Had The Best HR-To-Strikeout Ratios?

    This was for a career, not a season.

    I looked at every player with 5000+ PAs since 1920. I found their relative HRs and their relative strikeouts. Then found the ratio of the two. Ken Williams, for example, hit 3.70 times as many HRs as the average player of his time and league while striking out only 75% as often as the average player. Since his ratio of ratios (3.7/.75 = 4.93) is the highest of anyone in the study, he is ranked first. The data comes from the Lee Sinins Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.

    I also have a table with the top 25. Another table shows which players had the lowest relative strikeout rates among guys who hit 40+ HRs. Since I am using relative rates, there are more recent players than the list here

  44. Cyril Morong Says:

    Is it a good idea for hitters to try to strike out less? Not sure, but I attempted to answer that

    I looked to see how performance changed when strikeout rate changed from year to year

  45. Cyril Morong Says:

    I also did a study called "Do The Best Hitters Strikeout More Than Other Hitters (And Has This Changed Over Time)?"

  46. Cyril Morong Says:

    I found the top 20 right handed batting Yankees in at-bats from 1923-1973. Then found their AVG, Contact AVG, HR% and BIP AVG and ranked them. DiMaggio is first in HR% and AVG but only 2nd in Contact AVG (.343) while Skowron is first at .349. DiMaggio is 5th in BIP AVG (.304) while Ben Chapman is first with .327.

    I thought it would be a good idea to compare DiMaggio to other players in a similar situation. He would appear to be the hardest hitter with the highest HR%. But he is not the hardest hitter by Contact AVG or BIP AVG.

  47. Frank Says:

    "batters are seeing more pitches per plate appearance in an effort to draw more walks and wear-out opposing pitchers."

    How about they see more pitches because they miss more pitches? Takes at least 3 pitches to strike out. Takes 1 to put it in play.

  48. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #43/Cyril Morong ... Wow - that's a rather ingeneous method to normalize the HR/KO ratio over time. One "striking" (sorry...) item in that chart is how Babe Ruth rates so high, even with a high KO rate (189%), because of his totally unreal HR dominance (622%, almost TWICE that of anyone else on this chart).

    (This is) just more proof that Babe Ruth was the most dominant offensive force ever in baseball; you might say Ruth was the Wayne Gretzky or Wilt Chamberlain of baseball hitters, ha ha...

  49. StephenH Says:

    Regarding Mize, I had thought that Bill James in his "Politics of Glory" book had mentioned that Frankie Frisch hated Mize, and while the Flash was putting in all his cronies from the Giants and the Cards in the Hall, he consistently held off Mize's election.

    As for this blog, Great one! I had always know that Big Klu was a big home run hitter/low strikeout guy. He had a brief but amazing career.

  50. Cyril Morong Says:




  51. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #50/ Cyril Morong Says: "Lawrence ... Thanks. Cy"


    You're Welcome


    PS I've read your blog many times before, usually linked to baseball thinkfactory - good stuff

  52. More homers than strikeouts in a season » Baseball-Reference Blog ... Says:

    More homers than strikeouts in a season » Baseball-Reference Blog ......

    [...]And yes Holmes' 28/9 HR/SO ratio in 1945 was unreal. Lombardi had 19/11 that year, just below the cut-off. The record for most PA without a SO in a season is Lloyd Waner, 234 in 1941. He also had no HR that year, so his BAbip and BA were the same...

  53. T Says:

    I find the fact that Mel Ott is on this a 20 year-old, stunning. And it's the only time he makes the list. Most young players are hackers, you know, trying to prove themselves. That has been a constant in baseball, young players just don't have the discipline of patience. Ott did. He played a long time after that season, and always had low K totals. But never made this list again. He had a great career, and played til he was 38. But that 1929 season has to be statistically, his best. His career highs in Rs, 2bs, HRs, RBIs, TBs, SLG, OPS.....blah, blah, blah, were all that year.

  54. Gerry Says:

    On Mize and the Hall:

    First, look at how hard it was for Foxx to get in. He retired in 1945. There was no 5-year rule then, so he got votes in 1946, but didn't get in. He failed again in '47, '48, '49 (twice - regular vote, and runoff), and '50, finally making it in in 1951. If Foxx had that much trouble, it's not surprising the writers gave Mize a hard time.

    Second, when Mize went from St Louis to NY, the Giants stopped winning pennants, and the Cardinals started winning pennants. I don't believe we have cause and effect here, but I suspect some of the writers did and held it against him that teams did better without him than with him (Yankees don't count, as he was a part-timer).

    Third, after the crazy 1930 season, something was done to dampen offense in the NL, just in time for Mize. Compare Mize to his AL contemporary, Hank Greenberg. Mize once drove in 138 runs, while Greenberg had 183 and 170, and two more seasons over 145. Mize hit 312/397/562, with a high SLG 636; Greenberg hit 313/412/605, with a high SLG of 670. Yet they have the same OPS+, 158, because the AL had more offense in the 1930s. So Greenberg looks better, especially to writers who swoon over RBI, and gets into the Hall (on his 9th try - he didn't have an easy time of it, either).

  55. dukeofflatbush Says:

    I made this discovery a while back, but while it is sort of the opposite of what we are talking about here, I still think it pertinent to the discussion - Last year Austin Jackson, whom had a great rookie campaign, SO 170 times while only hitting 4 HRs.
    Of the 177 individual seasons of 150+ SOs, only Jackson has single digit HRs. In fact, 158 of the 177 seasons, could be considered 'Power Seasons' of over 20 HRs, and 169 had at least 15 HRs.
    So huge SO totals can't be assumed that the guy is swinging for the fence, a Jackson was clearly not.
    Plus his 47 BB in 675 PA, does not appear to show him taking pitches either.
    4 to 170 is one of the worst SO/HR ratios for a player. Gary Petis had two seasons of 0 HRs and 110+ SOs, but no one approaches Jackson in both lack of power and lack of contact.

  56. Andy Says:

    Duke, did I not post that? I thought I did. I posted every other damn idea you sent me 🙂

  57. dukeofflatbush Says:

    I dunno Andy.
    I was away for a while, lost my mother in law.
    but I always appreciate it when you do, and think you can always formulate it into a discussable piece of info, but I don't remember reading it.
    Thanx though, here's a new one for you:
    Mark Grud... lezenik had 30 hits last year, no xtra base hits. Liveball record.

  58. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Where has Mr. Twisto been hiding?

  59. jimmy vac Says:

    This shows the modern attitude to strikeouts.. years ago, guys with two strikes would hit the ball where it is pitched or even shorten their swing..
    As a Met fan, I would be amazed how Mattingly would start the season slow
    but still knock in his share of runs... Pujols is about the only one that would be on the list..
    Amazing with the swing Ruth took, he never struck out 100 times in a season and his 1300 odd strikeouts pale to Jackson's 2700 ....

  60. dukeofflatbush Says:

    @ jimmy vac

    I agree 100%.
    Eddie Murray, whom hit 500 HR, always talked about having 3 swings, depending on the situation. Count, Inning, Score, all mattered to Eddie. He only had his rookie season go above 100 SO. Although he never came out and said it, I bet he could of had 100 more HRs if he just had that one swing, albeit with a lower average and more Ks.

  61. Richard Chester Says:

    One big reason guys like Foxx and Greenberg needed several attempts to be voted into the HOF is because there was a huge backlog of potential HOFers who retired earlier than either of them and writers were giving them priority.

  62. John Q Says:

    @ 54Gerry,

    I think the thinking back then was that they weren't sure whether a player was going to come out of retirement so there wasn't a rush to make a player a "first ballot" HOF like in Foxx's case. The same thing basically happened to Joe Dimaggio as well.

    I'm not sure but I think they started instituting the 5 year waiting period during the late 50's.

    I think the 5 year waiting period was already instituted by the time Mize came on the ballot because his first time on the ballot was in 1960. Mize was eventually voted but by the Veteran's committee in 1981. The Mize omission was one of the worst omission by the writers in their history.

  63. Gerry Says:

    The 5-year rule came in the early 50s. There was a clause exempting anyone who already had received 100 votes - that clause was custom-made for DiMaggio, the only player it applied to.

  64. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #63/ Gerry Says: "The 5-year rule came in the early 50s..."

    Yes, but the five-year waiting period for appearing on the HOF ballet wasn't _strictly_ enforced until the 1962 election (Robinson/ Feller). Before that, if the voters wanted to vote for someone who was not strictly eligible, they did it - in 1958, Warren Spahn got a vote, and he didn't retire for another seven years! Phil Rizzuto got a vote in 1956, the same year he retired.

    That is why I've felt the "first ballot HOFer" was somewhat of a phony distinction, since there are NO "first ballot" HOFer's between 1937 and 1962. I am sure that I could make a team of non-first ballet HOFers that is clearly better than the weakest first-ballot HOFers (too lazy to do that now).

  65. John Q Says:

    @Lawrence A,

    Good points, the HOF voting procedure was very odd from 1937-1962.

  66. 704_Brave Says:

    The game has changed tremendously since way back when (let's say prior to 1956). Not taking anything away from these guys on this list but consider these factors when analyzing SO numbers by batters these days (besides the obvious swinging for the fences):

    1) The advent of the modern day bullpen. Obviously there are more specialists who come in the game from innings 6-9, so facing a tired starter vs. a guy throwing darts when you yourself might be tiring is definitely a factor.

    2) Day games vs. night games. Seeing the ball a bit better in the sunlight vs. battling shadows or lights could be a factor.

    3) Change of strategy. Could it be that more clubs played small ball or hit and run more often back in the day? Add that to the fact that striking out was taboo and frowned upon and you may have something...

    Just thinking here, but obviously views change over time. The steroid era really hurt the game strategy-wise IMO because guys were told to hack away and swing for the fences, to rely on the 3 run homer instead of doing the fundamental things like moving runners along and placing emphasis on contact.