Saturday July 05, 2014
More Homers than Strikeouts: How Rare?
I know, I’m late to the Victor Martinez story. USA Today was on it a month and a half ago.
But I was checking out the stats on ESPN.com the other night, intrigued mostly by Mike Trout’s incredible numbers again this year—.313/.406/.616—when I noticed that Trout, for all his glory, still struck out a lot: 87 Ks to 51 BBs. But the guy with the second-best OPS in the AL? Victor Martinez? He’d struck out only 23 times. Against 33 walks. And 21 homers.
Twenty-one homers and 23 Ks? That’s Joe DiMaggio territory. So I began to wonder when was the last time someone had a season where they homered more than they struck out? With, say, a minimum of 20 HRs?
Turns out it was 10 years ago: Barry Bonds during his Hulk-Smash period, so feel free to discount it. In which case, it hasn’t happened since George Brett’s .390 year in 1980, when he hit 24 homers against 22 strikeouts. The time before that? 1956: Both Ted Kluszewski and Yogi Berra.
All in all, according to Baseball Reference, it’s only been done 45 times in baseball history: seven times by DiMaggio, five by Yogi Berra, four by Kluszewski. And only once (discounting Bonds) in the last 58 years.
Martinez’s year is not only an anomaly for MLB but for Martinez. Career, he’s got 178 HRs against 618 Ks. Compare that with, say, Albert Pujols, who has 510 HRs against 873 Ks. That’s not bad for this day and age. But DiMaggio is still the touchstone: 361 HRs, 369 Ks.