SABR

Home runs vs. strikeouts

By L. Robert Davids

This article was published in the 1972 Baseball Research Journal.

If a batter hits 47-48 homers a season, he's going for the fences, right? And if he's going for the fences, he’s going to strike out a lot, right? Well, yes, and no. In the case of Willie Stargell in 1971, he led the league with 48 homers and 154 strikeouts. Henry Aaron was second in roundtrippers with 47. However, Aaron fanned only 58 times, which is further confirmation that he had one of his best seasons ever in 1971.

The great contrast between Aaron and Stargell in strikeouts, 58 to 154, is fairly typical of the great sluggers of the past. Of those players hitting at least 47 fourbaggers, Stargell fanned most frequently, more than three times as often as he blasted one out of the park. This surpassed the marks of Reggie Jackson and Harmon Killebrew in their biggest home run years.

Was there ever a player hitting 47 or more homers who fanned less than that? Yes, three. Johnny Mize did it once and Lou Gehrig and Ted Kluszewski did it twice. Gehrig had the all-tine beat season ratio when he hit 49 homers and fanned only 31 times in his Triple Crown season of 1934. Those players who have hit 47 or more homers in a season are listed below with the number of times they fanned that season. Asterisks indicate league leader.

 

Year Player HR SO Year Player HR SO
1961 Roger Maris 61* 67 1936 Lou Gehrig 49* 46
1927 Babe Ruth 60* 89* 1954 Ted Kluszewski 49* 35
1921 Babe Ruth 59* 81 1962 Willie Nays 49* 85
1932 Jimmy Foxx 58* 96 1964 H. Killebrew 49* 135
1938 H. Greenberg 58* 92 1966 Frank Robinson 49* 90
1930 Hack Wilson 56* 84* 1969 H. Killebrew 49* 84
1920 Babe Ruth 54* 80 1933 Jimmy Foxx 48* 93*
1928 Babe Ruth 54* 87* 1962 H. Killebrew 48* 142*
1949 Ralph Kiner 54* 61 1969 Frank Howard 48 96
1961 Mickey Mantle 54 112 1971 Will Stargell 48* 154*
1956 Mickey Mantle 52* 99 1926 Babe Ruth 47* 76
1965 Willie Hays 52* 71 1927 Lou Gehrig 47 84
1947 Ralph Kiner 51* 81 1950 Ralph Kiner 47* 79
1947 Johnny Mize 51* 42 1953 Ed Mathews 47* 83
1955 Willie Mays 51* 60 1955 Ted Kluszewski 47* 40
1938 Jimmy Foxx 50 76 1958 Ernie Banks 47* 87
1930 Babe Ruth 49* 61 1964 Willie Hays 47* 72
1934 Lou Gehrig 49* 31 1969 Reggie Jackson 47 142*
        1971 Henry Aaron 47 58

 

Editor's note: Here is an updated list of players with 47+ home runs in a season, and their strikeout totals, from 1972-2012:

Year Player HR SO
1977 George Foster 52 107
1979 Dave Kingman 48 131
1980 Mike Schmidt 48 119
1987 Mark McGwire 49 131
1987 Andre Dawson 49 103
1987 George Bell 47 75
1989 Kevin Mitchell 47 115
1990 Cecil Fielder 51 182
1995 Albert Belle 50 80
1996 Ken Griffey 49 104
1996 Brady Anderson 50 106
1996 Juan Gonzalez 47 82
1996 Albert Belle 48 87
1996 Andres Galarraga 47 157
1996 Mark McGwire 52 112
1997 Ken Griffey 56 121
1997 Larry Walker 49 90
1997 Mark McGwire 58 159
1998 Mark McGwire 70 155
1998 Greg Vaughn 50 121
1998 Albert Belle 49 84
1998 Ken Griffey 56 121
1998 Sammy Sosa 66 171
1999 Sammy Sosa 63 171
1999 Mark McGwire 65 141
1999 Rafael Palmeiro 47 69
1999 Ken Griffey 48 108
2000 Jeff Bagwell 47 116
2000 Sammy Sosa 50 168
2000 Barry Bonds 49 77
2000 Troy Glaus 47 163
2001 Todd Helton 49 104
2001 Jim Thome 49 185
2001 Luis Gonzalez 57 83
2001 Shawn Green 49 107
2001 Sammy Sosa 64 153
2001 Barry Bonds 73 93
2001 Alex Rodriguez 52 131
2001 Rafael Palmeiro 47 90
2002 Sammy Sosa 49 144
2002 Alex Rodriguez 57 122
2002 Jim Thome 52 139
2003 Alex Rodriguez 47 126
2003 Jim Thome 47 182
2004 Adrian Beltre 48 87
2005 David Ortiz 47 124
2005 Andruw Jones 51 112
2005 Alex Rodriguez 48 139
2006 Albert Pujols 49 50
2006 David Ortiz 54 117
2006 Ryan Howard 58 181
2007 Alex Rodriguez 54 120
2007 Prince Fielder 50 121
2007 Ryan Howard 47 199
2008 Ryan Howard 48 199
2009 Albert Pujols 47 64
2010 Jose Bautista 54 116

 

This article originally appeared in the 1972 "Baseball Research Journal."

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