Bob Cerv (Kansas City As) was fourth in HR with 38. In 1959 Cerv hit the second most HR of his career: 20. He did not lead the AL in any significant batting category in 1958. Cerv hit only one HR in August and had only 29 entering September but hit nine that month to get close but not really compete.
Roy Sievers (Washington Senators) was third with 39. Sievers did not lead the AL in any significant batting category in 1958. He had led the AL with 42 HR in 1957. Those were his only seasons with more than 29 HR. He held the Senators season record. In 1958: half splits: 19/22. 34 HR entering September.
Rocky Colavito (Cleveland Indians) was second with 41. Colavito led the AL in slugging average. In 1959 Colavito would tie Washington Senator Harmon Killebrew for most AL HR with 42. It was Colavito's only HR championship. Colavito's career highs in HR and RBI were in 1961 with the Detroit Tigers: 45 and 140; neither led the AL. Colavito returned to Cleveland in 1965 and led the AL with 109 RBI. In 1958 Colavito hit his 41 HR in only 489 AB; at home: 20 HR in only 219 AB. Half splits: 13/28. Colavito hit 13 HR in August to blow past Cerv and pull even with Sievers at 34 entering September.
Mickey Mantle (New York Yankees) was in the first of three HR races: 1958, 1960, 1961. Mantle won the first two. The second and third were against his new teammate Roger Maris, who set the season HR record in the first 162 game schedule with 61 in 1961 when Mantle hit his career high of 54. Mantle led the AL in HR in:
Techie note: I wasted an hour trying to make the fonts uniform. After a copy/paste of the baseball-reference.com list of the five players below, Google's blogger.com, which hosts this blog, behaved erratically. So please excuse the appearance and try to absorb the content. Thanks.
The matrix below is a list of dates for Mantle's 42 HR and the total through each date for the other four players. Mantle played in but did not homer in the final three games of the season: 6 PA, 4 AB in 12 innings Friday and a doubleheader Sunday (4 PA, 3 AB; 4 PA, 4 AB in 8 innings). Mantle left that final game with 3 hits. Since Colavito played only one game that final day, by the 8th inning of Yankee game two the Yankees must have known that Colavito had finished with 41 HR. Leading 6-2, Yankee manager Casey Stengel replaced Shantz on the mound and removed Mantle:
Norm Siebern moves from CF to LF
Bobby Shantz moves from P to CF.
Yanks won 6-3.
|Thu, Apr 17.||@||BOS||Tom Brewer||1||0||0||2||3|
|Fri, May 9.||WSH||Pedro Ramos||2||2||3||8||4|
|Sun, May 18.||@||WSH||Pedro Ramos||3||2||4||11||8|
|Tue, May 20.||@||CHW||Dick Donovan||4||2||4||11||8|
|Mon, Jun 2.||CHW||Jim Wilson||5||5||8||14||10|
|Tue, Jun 3.||CHW||Dick Donovan||6||5||9||15||10|
|Wed, Jun 4.||CHW||Billy Pierce||7||5||9||15||10|
|Thu, Jun 5.||CHW||Early Wynn||8||5||9||15||11|
|Fri, Jun 6.||CLE||Dick Tomanek||9||5||9||15||11|
|Fri, Jun 6.||CLE||Dick Tomanek||10||5||9||15||11|
|Sun, Jun 8.||CLE||Mudcat Grant||11||7||10||15||13|
|Fri, Jun 13.||DET||Billy Hoeft||12||8||12||16||15|
|Tue, Jun 24.||@||CHW||Early Wynn||13||11||13||19||19|
|Sun, Jun 29.||@||KCA||Ralph Terry||14||12||18||19||23|
|Tue, Jul 1.||@||BAL||Hal Brown||15||12||18||21||24|
|Tue, Jul 1.||@||BAL||Jack Harshman||16||12||18||21||24|
|Thu, Jul 3.||@||WSH||Russ Kemmerer||17||12||18||21||24|
|Thu, Jul 3.||@||WSH||Russ Kemmerer||18||12||18||21||24|
|Fri, Jul 4.||@||WSH||Chuck Stobbs||19||12||19||22||24|
|Sat, Jul 5.||BOS||Dave Sisler||20||13||19||22||24|
|Sun, Jul 6.||BOS||Ike Delock||21||13||19||22||24|
|Fri, Jul 11.||CLE||Ray Narleski||22||14||20||23||26|
|Mon, Jul 14.||CHW||Early Wynn||23||14||20||23||26|
|Tue, Jul 15.||DET||Frank Lary||24||14||21||23||27|
|Wed, Jul 23.||@||DET||Bill Fischer||25||16||25||24||28|
|Thu, Jul 24.||@||DET||Paul Foytack||26||18||25||24||28|
|Mon, Jul 28.||@||KCA||Dick Tomanek||27||19||26||28||29|
|Mon, Jul 28.||@||KCA||Ray Herbert||28||19||26||28||29|
|Mon, Aug 4.||@||BAL||Charlie Beamon||29||23||28||28||30|
|Tue, Aug 5.||@||BAL||Connie Johnson||30||23||28||28||30|
|Sat, Aug 9.||BOS||Dave Sisler||31||23||31||29||31|
|Mon, Aug 11.||BAL||Connie Johnson||32||24||32||29||32|
|Tue, Aug 12.||BAL||Ken Lehman||33||24||32||29||32|
|Sat, Aug 16.||@||BOS||Tom Brewer||34||26||33||29||32|
|Sun, Aug 17.||@||BOS||Ike Delock||35||27||33||29||32|
|Fri, Aug 22.||CHW||Early Wynn||36||29||34||29||33|
|Wed, Aug 27.||KCA||Tom Gorman||37||31||34||29||33|
|Tue, Sep 2.||BOS||Dave Sisler||38||34||34||30||33|
|Wed, Sep 3.||BOS||Frank Sullivan||39||34||34||31||33|
|Tue, Sep 9.||@||CLE||Cal McLish||40||34||36||32||34|
|Wed, Sep 17.||@||DET||Jim Bunning||41||38||38||36||34|
|Wed, Sep 24.||@||BOS||Tom Brewer||42||39||38||38||34|
|Fri, Sep 26.||42||40||38||38||34|
|Sat, Sep 27.||42||40||39||38||34|
|Sun, Sep 28.||42||41||39||38||35|
Cerv dominated early, then MVP Jensen in the middle. Colavito never led on the dates when Mantle homered.
In 1958 the batter who "led the league in hitting" was Ted Williams, who had the highest batting average (BA) with .328. But Nellie Fox, White Sox second baseman, had the most hits; Williams was not even in the top ten. So why wasn't Fox regarded as the best hitter? If the best rate or average of something defines the best, then why wasn't Rocky Colavito the Home Run King in 1958, instead of Mickey Mantle. The old phrase "led the league in hitting" has faded but not completely. But looking at HR rate has never taken hold. We still deal with HR as totals.
Today's smarties are into WAR (Wins Above Replacement) as a unifying theory. WAR is a total. So, how far have we come?