Home runs vs. strikeouts

This article was written 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.


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.


1961Roger Maris61*671936Lou Gehrig49*46
1927Babe Ruth60*89*1954Ted Kluszewski49*35
1921Babe Ruth59*811962Willie Nays49*85
1932Jimmy Foxx58*961964H. Killebrew49*135
1938H. Greenberg58*921966Frank Robinson49*90
1930Hack Wilson56*84*1969H. Killebrew49*84
1920Babe Ruth54*801933Jimmy Foxx48*93*
1928Babe Ruth54*87*1962H. Killebrew48*142*
1949Ralph Kiner54*611969Frank Howard4896
1961Mickey Mantle541121971Will Stargell48*154*
1956Mickey Mantle52*991926Babe Ruth47*76
1965Willie Hays52*711927Lou Gehrig4784
1947Ralph Kiner51*811950Ralph Kiner47*79
1947Johnny Mize51*421953Ed Mathews47*83
1955Willie Mays51*601955Ted Kluszewski47*40
1938Jimmy Foxx50761958Ernie Banks47*87
1930Babe Ruth49*611964Willie Hays47*72
1934Lou Gehrig49*311969Reggie Jackson47142*
    1971Henry Aaron4758


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

1977George Foster52107
1979Dave Kingman48131
1980Mike Schmidt48119
1987Mark McGwire49131
1987Andre Dawson49103
1987George Bell4775
1989Kevin Mitchell47115
1990Cecil Fielder51182
1995Albert Belle5080
1996Ken Griffey49104
1996Brady Anderson50106
1996Juan Gonzalez4782
1996Albert Belle4887
1996Andres Galarraga47157
1996Mark McGwire52112
1997Ken Griffey56121
1997Larry Walker4990
1997Mark McGwire58159
1998Mark McGwire70155
1998Greg Vaughn50121
1998Albert Belle4984
1998Ken Griffey56121
1998Sammy Sosa66171
1999Sammy Sosa63171
1999Mark McGwire65141
1999Rafael Palmeiro4769
1999Ken Griffey48108
2000Jeff Bagwell47116
2000Sammy Sosa50168
2000Barry Bonds4977
2000Troy Glaus47163
2001Todd Helton49104
2001Jim Thome49185
2001Luis Gonzalez5783
2001Shawn Green49107
2001Sammy Sosa64153
2001Barry Bonds7393
2001Alex Rodriguez52131
2001Rafael Palmeiro4790
2002Sammy Sosa49144
2002Alex Rodriguez57122
2002Jim Thome52139
2003Alex Rodriguez47126
2003Jim Thome47182
2004Adrian Beltre4887
2005David Ortiz47124
2005Andruw Jones51112
2005Alex Rodriguez48139
2006Albert Pujols4950
2006David Ortiz54117
2006Ryan Howard58181
2007Alex Rodriguez54120
2007Prince Fielder50121
2007Ryan Howard47199
2008Ryan Howard48199
2009Albert Pujols4764
2010Jose Bautista54116


This article originally appeared in the 1972 “Baseball Research Journal.”

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