Sunday, November 23, 2014

Joe DiMaggio: active career home run leader: 1948-1951. And other comments on the list.

I was cruising through the list and noticed that Joe DiMaggio became the active career leader in home runs (HR) after the 1947 retirement of Mel Ott, who hit 511.  Fittingly DiMaggio had led the American League in home runs for the second and final time in 1948; he hit 39 for a career total of 303.  Through DiMaggio's retirement following the 1951 season he had 361 HR and was succeeded as active career HR leader by teammate Johnny Mize, who hit only four HR in each of his final two seasons for a total of 359 through 1953.  See:

Progressive Leaders & Records for Home Runs

Joe DiMaggio 1950 World Series at Shibe Park
by Warner Pathe News via Wikimedia Commons
Following Mize it was Ted Williams through his retirement in 1960: 366 to 521.  Then Stan Musial through his retirement in 1963: 444 to 475.  Then for one season: Mickey Mantle 454 in 1964.  Willie Mays hit 52 in 1965 and, with many more career at bats (AB), passed Mantle; 1965-1971: 505 to 646.  Hank Aaron took over through his retirement in 1976: 673-755.  After that it passed among these players:

Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell (3 of 4 named Willie), Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Dwight Evans/Eddie Murray, Dave Winfield, Eddie Murray again, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey, Alex Rodriguez, who though was listed during his banned 2014 season as active elsewhere on the baseball-reference.com site, is not shown as active on this list even after his recent re-instatement and therefore Albert Pujols is shown as the active leader for 2014.  Maybe it's an error.

Like DiMaggio several of them are not remembered as big time home run hitters.  When he retired in 1951 DiMaggio was number five on the all time home run list even though he had only 6,821 at bats (AB):


Like DiMaggio, Mark McGwire was also number five in career HR when he retired in 2001 with only 6,187 AB, far fewer than even DiMaggio:


And following that one season when Mantle led in active career home runs, 1964, here's the all time list:


Mantle led Mays by one home run but notice the big difference in AB: 7,036 to 6,533, advantage Mays.  The often forgotten Eddie Mathews is right there and with only 15 more AB than Mays.  Following his retirement in 1968 Mantle was third on the all time list:


Among those 13 batters the only ones with fewer AB than Mantle: Gehrig, Williams, Snider, Robinson.  Mays had the third most, Aaron fourth most.  Still 204 HR behind Ruth, Aaron already had 490 more AB than the Babe.