The Story of 40 Home Runs and the RBI

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DOUGHBOYS
Posts: 12011
Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2005 6:00 pm

The Story of 40 Home Runs and the RBI

Post by DOUGHBOYS » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:09 am

Once upon a time, there was a baseball lineup.
The lineup consisted of a leadoff hitter who was very good at getting on base and stealing bases.
The leadoff hitter was followed by a second hitter who was good with the bat. He could bunt, make contact on hit and run plays, and spray the ball to every field. The third hitter was the best hitter on the team. He could hit for power, average, and inflict the most damage on opposing teams.
The clean up hitter followed him. He was a big man. if the first three hitters did their job, they would be waiting on base for the clean up hitter to send them home. The fifth and sixth hitters were third and fourth hitter wannabe's. They weren't quite as good as them, but were formidable in the lineup. The seventh hitter was a wild card. He could surprise or falter. The fans would hold their breath waiting for a hit from him. For the eighth hitter, holding one's breath in waiting for a hit could result in the breath holders demise. He was usually an out. The pitcher bats ninth. Like a blindfolded kid swatting at a pinata, there was little hope of a hit.

These types of lineups would last over 100 years in baseball. Dead ball to live ball. From 19th century to to the 20th century.
Baseball fans, players, and organizations were comfortable with these lineups.
It was the way of the baseball world.
When the live ball era arrived in 1920, statistics, like lineups became predictable.
The first and second hitters would hit for average and score runs. The third and fourth hitters would get the majority of runs batted in. The rest of the lineup would see lesser statistics.
Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig would hit 40-odd homers and have over 100 rbi.
So would Jimmy Foxx, and Ted Williams, and others throughout the 1920's, 30's, 40's, and most of the 50's.
It was indelible that if a third or fourth hitter bopped 40 homers, he would also be driving in 100 runs.
Most, having the triangular effect of a 40/120 season
But, In the late 50's, something happened that had never happened before.
Duke Snider became the first hitter to smack 40 home runs without driving in 100 runs.
How could this happen?
That same year, Minnie Minoso would drive in 103 runs and only hit 12 balls over the fence.
Snider not garnering 100 rbi was hardly noticed at the time. There were few stat mongers like us to bring it to light.
And sadly, baseball fans didn't know it at the time, but it was curtains for the Duke.
The Dodgers would move to LA the next season and Snider would never see 40 homers or 100 rbi again.

In 1958 and 1960, it happened again. Same guy both times.
A star would hit 40 homers without driving in 100 runs.
Mickey Mantle.
Mantle had won the Triple Crown in '56 and along with Willie Mays, Stan Musial, and Snider, they had ruled the 50's.
Mantle was still to see his best power year ever in 1961, when Mantle and Roger Maris would go after the Babe's 60 home run mark.
Mantle got hurt and never had a chance at the record. Maris got the record and wished it were he who had gotten hurt, not Mantle.
In '58 and again in '60, Mantle would hit 40 homers without driving in 100 runs.

The anomaly of third and fourth hitters bopping 40 homers and not driving in 100 runs would continue to happen sporadically over the next few decades.
Harmon Killebrew in '63
Rico Petrocelli in '69
Hank Aaron in '69 and '73
Davey Johnson in '73
Darrell Evans in '85
Matt Williams in '94
Ken Griffey Jr. in '94
Barry Bonds in '03
Adam Dunn in '06 and '12
Alfonso Soriano in '06
Adrian Gonzalez in '09

The commonality among all these hitters is that batting average was usually wanting. Only Aaron would wind up with a lifetime batting average over .300
Mantle and Bonds came close at .298
Bonds, only on this list because of injury and pitchers being smart enough to walk him 148 times during his 130 games of hitting 45 homers.

Why do I bring the 40 homers without 100 rbi to your attention?
It's because in the past, it was an anomaly. Something that happened from time to time.
It couldn't be a trend because a trend needs to occur three years in a row.
My friends, it is now a trend.
In 2015, no less than five hitters had 40 homers and less than 100 rbi.

Albert Pujols 40/95
Carlos Gonzalez 40/97
Mike Trout 41/90
Bryce Harper (who has never had 100 rbi) 42/99
Nelson Cruz 44/93

In 2016, it didn't stop

Todd Frazier 40/98
Chris Carter 41/94
Brian Dozier 42/99

And finally in 2017, Joey Gallo driving himself home more than his passengers with a 41/80 ratio.

Why is this occurring frequently now?
One reason is BS....not THAT BS....BS, in this case, meaning 'Before Shifts'.
Shifts have cut down batting average which produces as many or even more home runs, but less hits.
Another reason is lineups.
CarGo, Trout, Frazier, Carter, Dozier, and Gallo are not prototypical third or fourth hitters.
Some, not third or fourth hitters at all.
Trout is, but he is used as a second hitter in today's lineup makeover.
Another reason is today's ball player.
Spray hitters are gone. So are 'table setters' for the most part.
It is dog eat dog for rbi.
Trea Turner can have eight rbi in a game as much as Bryce Harper.
There are many more solo homers than back in the day.
Mostly because the hitter batting in front of the home run hitter is trying to hit a home run too.
'Small Ball' is dead.

It is too early to know if there will be another 40/<100 rbi season this year.
Some hitters are hitting home runs without the rbi to match.
Here are some of those players....

Mike Trout 25/50
Giancarlo Stanton 23/55
Bryce Harper 23/54
Mookie Betts 23/51
Nelson Cruz 22/55
Joey Gallo 22/51
Max Muncy 22/41

The 'triangular effect' of having three rbi per homer is disappearing.
During the last three years, only three players with 40 homers have achieved it

'15 Josh Donaldson 41/123
'15 Nolan Arenado 42/130

'16 Nolan Arenado 41/133
'16 Edwin Encarnacion 42/127

It did not happen in 2017.

I cannot come up with a clever end to this story.
Back in the day, there was a cigarette called "Lucky Strikes".
On each package were the letters "LSMFT"
During advertisements, the commercials would tell us that LSMFT meant 'Lucky Strikes Means Fine Tobacco!"
In our school yard, it meant 'Loose straps means flabby tits'
12 year old humor.
Different things mean different things to different people.
The home run is King.
The RBI, a pauper.
For me, it means a little less from the game I love.
But for agents and their players?
The agents and players lived happily ever after.
On my tombstone-
Wait! I never had the perfect draft!

DOUGHBOYS
Posts: 12011
Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2005 6:00 pm

Re: The Story of 40 Home Runs and the RBI

Post by DOUGHBOYS » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:24 pm

In a roundabout, faint kind of way, this is sorta related to the topic....
Ok, the only thing it has in common are home runs and rbi....

An NFBC friend of mine was lamenting about drafting Jay Bruce. He thought out loud that if the season were over now, the drop from 36 homers in 2017 to a mere three in 2018, would be the biggest falloff in baseball history.
And his 101 rbi to just 17, huge as well.
It is close.
And it may be the largest drop from one season to the other during the fantasy era.
Fantasy era, ha, I like that.

I believe the largest drop in history occurred in 1931.
Hack Wilson had just come off his Ruthian 56 home runs and, still a record, 190 rbi (191 for some folks)
If there had been fantasy baseball in 1931, the Chicago fire would not have started with Mrs. O'Leary's cow, but Hack Wilson's home.
In 1931, Wilson hit just 13 homers and drove in a measly 61 runs.
A difference of 43 homers and amazing 129 rbi (130 for some folks)
The record for rbi got Wilson in the Hall.
He was a top hitter for a few years, but never really had Hall of Fame credentials.
Vada Pinson had more home runs and almost twice as many hits as Wilson during his career.
It shows how records are revered a little too much by baseball hierarchy.
But yeah, can you imagine drafting a player and losing 43 homers and 129 rbi (130 for some folks)?
That, that would be hard to take.
And yes, I know that doesn't make Bruce owners feel any better :P
On my tombstone-
Wait! I never had the perfect draft!

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Edwards Kings
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Location: Duluth, Georgia

Re: The Story of 40 Home Runs and the RBI

Post by Edwards Kings » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:47 am

Great Stuff Dan....and which is why I think the shift is doomed. Baseball will amend the rules about where position players can reside prior to the pitch. Still, with "stuff" pitchers unseating the "crafty" ones, expanded bullpens, and the lack of focus on baserunning skills (i.e. steals) I think it will be a while before the historical lineup construction like you mentions (and like we oldies were taught was the "right" way) may not be in vogue again for a while as moving the three/four prototypical to the two/three spot in order to get two dozen more AB a year out of your "best " hitters is current manager-think. The prototypical #2 hitters are still out there, but I think those are those languishing in the 6 spot now.

Now about platooning.....
Baseball is a slow, boring, complex, cerebral game that doesn't lend itself to histrionics. You 'take in' a baseball game, something odd to say about a football or basketball game, with the clock running and the bodies flying.
Charles Krauthammer

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