Felber: The most dominant home-run season ever

From SABR member John Thorn at Our Game on March 31, 2015:

Old friend Bill Felber is the author of many baseball books–most recently Under Pallor, Under Shadow: The 1920 American League Pennant Race That Rattled and Rebuilt Baseball (University of Nebraska Press, 2011). He penned this for SABR’s Nineteenth Century Research Committee’s quarterly newsletter, issued last week. I reprint it here with his gracious permission.

It seems to me that this little study is a perfect illustration of how sabermetric methods applied to feats of long ago may yield a superior understanding. When advanced fans think of power hitters before Babe Ruth they tend to recall Roger Connor or Dan Brouthers or Sam Thompson. When it comes to single-season home-run exploits, the name that springs to the lips is that of Ned Williamson, whose tainted total of 27 came in 1884 because of a new accounting of balls hit over short fences in left and right that had been ground-rule doubles the year before.

Yet when Ruth hit his 26th home run for the Boston Red Sox in 1919 the press called it a new home-run record, topping Buck Freeman’s 25 in 1899. Fortunately, Ruth went to hit 29, rendering the question moot.

Read the full article here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/03/31/the-most-dominant-home-run-season-ever/

Originally published: March 31, 2015. Last Updated: March 31, 2015.