Nap Lajoie and others with more homers than strikeouts

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For much of the early part of this season, it looked like Victor Martinez might join an exclusive club: players with more home runs than strikeouts in a season. It used to happen with some regularity, though since strikeout rates rose in the 1950s it’s become almost unheard of. Since 1958, just George Brett and Barry Bonds have accomplished the feat. Others like Albert Pujols and Tony Gwynn have come close. Martinez likely will not, as he has 27 homers and 39 strikeouts with a month to play.

According to the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index tool, 25 players in the modern era have had more home runs than strikeouts in a season where they qualified for the batting title. In all, the feat has been accomplished 65 times since 1901 led by Joe DiMaggio who did it seven times and famously just missed having more home runs than strikeouts for his career. Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Ted Kluszewski and Frank McCormick all had more homers than strikeouts at least four seasons apiece.

The list below offers a “Who’s Who” of great individual years in baseball history: DiMaggio and Ted Williams in 1941; Stan Musial when he just missed winning the Triple Crown in 1948 and collected 429 total bases, a mark no one’s topped since. My favorite of the bunch? Nap Lajoie, who took advantage of high scoring and foul tips not yet being called strikes in the expansion American League in 1901 to hit .426 with 14 home runs, nine strikeouts and 24 walks. Basically, everything Lajoie saw in 1901, he hit [though the Cincinnati Enquirer suggested late in the season that Lajoie was closing out with “don’t-care-a-rap” play as his team stumbled to fourth.]

That said, having a staggering level of offense is by no means the rule for making this list. Frank McCormick hit .269 when he had more homers than strikeouts in 1941, with adjusted rates of run creation and total offensive production barely above league average. Joe Sewell would have made this list more than twice with any kind of power. From 1925 through his final year in the majors of 1933, the Hall of Fame shortstop averaged four home runs and five strikeouts per season.

All this being said, I offer the following list chronologically:

Player HR SO Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB BA OBP SLG
1 Nap Lajoie 14 9 1901 131 582 544 145 232 48 14 125 24 .426 .463 .643
2 Jimmy Ryan 6 5 1902 120 540 484 92 155 32 6 44 43 .320 .384 .448
3 Ed Delahanty 10 9 1902 123 539 473 103 178 43 14 93 62 .376 .453 .590
4 Ken Williams 39 31 1922 153 678 585 128 194 34 11 155 74 .332 .413 .627
5 Irish Meusel 19 16 1923 146 648 595 102 177 22 14 125 38 .297 .341 .477
6 Tris Speaker 17 15 1923 150 695 574 133 218 59 11 130 93 .380 .469 .610
7 Ken Williams 18 17 1924 115 483 398 78 129 21 4 84 69 .324 .425 .533
8 Ken Williams 25 14 1925 102 462 411 83 136 31 5 105 37 .331 .390 .613
9 Irish Meusel 21 19 1925 135 558 516 82 169 35 8 111 26 .328 .363 .548
10 Billy Southworth 16 10 1926 135 566 507 99 162 28 7 99 33 .320 .365 .497
11 Mickey Cochrane 12 7 1927 126 507 432 80 146 20 6 80 50 .338 .409 .495
12 Lefty O’Doul 32 19 1929 154 732 638 152 254 35 6 122 76 .398 .465 .622
13 Joe Sewell 7 4 1929 152 671 578 90 182 38 3 73 48 .315 .372 .427
14 Mel Ott 42 38 1929 150 675 545 138 179 37 2 151 113 .328 .449 .635
15 Lefty O’Doul 32 19 1929 154 732 638 152 254 35 6 122 76 .398 .465 .622
16 Al Simmons 36 34 1930 138 611 554 152 211 41 16 165 39 .381 .423 .708
17 Lefty O’Doul 21 20 1932 148 655 595 120 219 32 8 90 50 .368 .423 .555
18 Joe Sewell 11 3 1932 125 576 503 95 137 21 3 68 56 .272 .349 .392
19 Bill Dickey 15 13 1932 108 459 423 66 131 20 4 84 34 .310 .361 .482
20 Bill Terry 28 20 1932 154 677 643 124 225 42 11 117 32 .350 .382 .580
21 Lou Gehrig 49 31 1934 154 690 579 128 210 40 6 166 109 .363 .465 .706
22 Ernie Lombardi 12 6 1935 120 351 332 36 114 23 3 64 16 .343 .379 .539
23 Bill Dickey 14 11 1935 120 491 448 54 125 26 6 81 35 .279 .339 .458
24 Arky Vaughan 19 18 1935 137 609 499 108 192 34 10 99 97 .385 .491 .607
25 Charlie Gehringer 19 16 1935 150 709 610 123 201 32 8 108 79 .330 .409 .502
26 Bill Dickey 22 16 1936 112 472 423 99 153 26 8 107 46 .362 .428 .617
27 Charlie Gehringer 15 13 1936 154 731 641 144 227 60 12 116 83 .354 .431 .555
28 Lou Gehrig 49 46 1936 155 719 579 167 205 37 7 152 130 .354 .478 .696
29 Joe DiMaggio 46 37 1937 151 692 621 151 215 35 15 167 64 .346 .412 .673
30 Bill Dickey 29 22 1937 140 609 530 87 176 35 2 133 73 .332 .417 .570
31 Ernie Lombardi 19 14 1938 129 529 489 60 167 30 1 95 40 .342 .391 .524
32 Joe DiMaggio 32 21 1938 145 660 599 129 194 32 13 140 59 .324 .386 .581
33 Bill Dickey 27 22 1938 132 533 454 84 142 27 4 115 75 .313 .412 .568
34 Joe DiMaggio 30 20 1939 120 524 462 108 176 32 6 126 52 .381 .448 .671
35 Ernie Lombardi 20 19 1939 130 494 450 43 129 26 2 85 35 .287 .342 .487
36 Frank McCormick 18 16 1939 156 688 630 99 209 41 4 128 40 .332 .374 .495
37 Joe DiMaggio 30 20 1939 120 524 462 108 176 32 6 126 52 .381 .448 .671
38 Joe DiMaggio 31 30 1940 132 572 508 93 179 28 9 133 61 .352 .425 .626
39 Frank McCormick 17 13 1941 154 653 603 77 162 31 5 97 40 .269 .318 .421
40 Ted Williams 37 27 1941 143 606 456 135 185 33 3 120 147 .406 .553 .735
41 Joe DiMaggio 30 13 1941 139 622 541 122 193 43 11 125 76 .357 .440 .643
42 Frank McCormick 20 17 1944 153 645 581 85 177 37 3 102 57 .305 .371 .482
43 Tommy Holmes 13 11 1944 155 705 631 93 195 42 6 73 61 .309 .372 .456
44 Frank McCormick 20 17 1944 153 645 581 85 177 37 3 102 57 .305 .371 .482
45 Tommy Holmes 28 9 1945 154 714 636 125 224 47 6 117 70 .352 .420 .577
46 Johnny Mize 51 42 1947 154 664 586 137 177 26 2 138 74 .302 .384 .614
47 Willard Marshall 36 30 1947 155 655 587 102 171 19 6 107 67 .291 .366 .528
48 Lou Boudreau 18 9 1948 152 676 560 116 199 34 6 106 98 .355 .453 .534
49 Johnny Mize 40 37 1948 152 658 560 110 162 26 4 125 94 .289 .395 .564
50 Joe DiMaggio 39 30 1948 153 669 594 110 190 26 11 155 67 .320 .396 .598
51 Stan Musial 39 34 1948 155 698 611 135 230 46 18 131 79 .376 .450 .702
52 Yogi Berra 28 12 1950 151 656 597 116 192 30 6 124 55 .322 .383 .533
53 Andy Pafko 36 32 1950 146 595 514 95 156 24 8 92 69 .304 .397 .591
54 Yogi Berra 27 20 1951 141 594 547 92 161 19 4 88 44 .294 .350 .492
55 Don Mueller 16 13 1951 122 493 469 58 130 10 7 69 19 .277 .307 .431
56 Yogi Berra 30 24 1952 142 603 534 97 146 17 1 98 66 .273 .358 .478
57 Ted Kluszewski 40 34 1953 149 629 570 97 180 25 0 108 55 .316 .380 .570
58 Ted Kluszewski 49 35 1954 149 658 573 104 187 28 3 141 78 .326 .407 .642
59 Yogi Berra 27 20 1955 147 615 541 84 147 20 3 108 60 .272 .349 .470
60 Ted Kluszewski 47 40 1955 153 686 612 116 192 25 0 113 66 .314 .382 .585
61 Ted Kluszewski 35 31 1956 138 574 517 91 156 14 1 102 49 .302 .362 .536
62 Yogi Berra 30 29 1956 140 596 521 93 155 29 2 105 65 .298 .378 .534
63 Vic Power 16 14 1958 145 620 590 98 184 37 10 80 20 .312 .332 .490
64 George Brett 24 22 1980 117 515 449 87 175 33 9 118 58 .390 .454 .664
65 Barry Bonds 45 41 2004 147 617 373 129 135 27 3 101 232 .362 .609 .812

0 thoughts on “Nap Lajoie and others with more homers than strikeouts”

  1. I never knew about Yogi having accomplished this feat and five times yet! Being one of the great bad-ball hitters of all time you’d think that would go along with a large number of strike outs. An amazing accomplishment for a free swinger and power hitter and in the more modern era when guys were striking out a lot more often.
    IMHO, I think a power hitter like some of the players above who makes such great contact that they’d strike out fewer times than hit the ball out of the park is one of the greatest and little talked about achievements a player can call their own.
    Excellent article and well researched!

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