Carlos Pena is Pulling a McGwire

Once against thanks to a helpful reader tip, I am here to present a possibly interesting nugget of baseball trivia. Three true outcome hitters are known for their high power and high totals in walks and strikeouts. Principally, the high strikeout and walk totals typically force them to carry low batting averages and their high power usually means a high number of home runs.

One interesting offshoot of that would be a player going so far to the extreme that he actually hits more home runs than singles. How extreme is this? Well, the complete list, as best as I can tell (Baseball-Reference’s Play Index makes me figure this out circuitously) of all such seasons since 1901 in which a batter appeared at least 200 times and had more, or at least as many, home runs than singles looks like this:

1995 Mark McGwire, 39 HRs, 35 1Bs
1998 Mark McGwire, 70 HRs, 61 1Bs
1999 Mark McGwire, 65 HRs, 58 1Bs
2000 Mark McGwire, 32 HRs, 32 1Bs
2001 Mark McGwire, 29 HRs, 23 1Bs
2001 Barry Bonds, 73 HRs, 49 1Bs

Remarkable. I searched far and wide and could not find a single other player to do it since the turn of the 20th century. A few, like Frank Thomas in 2005, managed it in small samples, or came close like Ken Griffey Jr. did in 2003 and Eddie Robinson in 1955.

Well, we have something to pay attention to for the rest of the season because entering play today, we have this:

2009 Carlos Pena, 37 HRs, 35 1Bs

As if you needed another reason to pay attention to an AL East team.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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Since the Baseball Tonight guys started following Fangraphs.
(And sending in helpful reader tips).