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. 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 four-baggers, 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

 

 

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