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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Ruth/Gehrig, Mantle/Maris, Stanton/Judge: another Yankee 60 Home Run race?

In 1927 Yankee teammates Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig engaged in a dramatic Home Run race to see which would break Babe's season record of 59 set in 1921, Ruth's second Yankee season. The intensity of the race has been obscured by Gehrig fading after he and Ruth were tied at 45 early in September. Ruth beat Gehrig 60-47. Through 1927 only Ruth had hit more HR in a season than Gehrig.

1Babe Ruth60192732NYYAL1516915401581922981651378901476.356.486.7721.258*97
2Babe Ruth59192126NYYAL152693540177204441616814581441713.378.512.8461.359*78/13
3Babe Ruth54192025NYYAL14261645815817236913515080351414.376.532.8471.379*978/3H1
4Lou Gehrig47192724NYYAL155717584149218521817310984321108.373.474.7651.240*3
5Babe Ruth47192631NYYAL15265249513918430515314476310119.372.516.7371.253*79/H3

In 1961 the American League (AL) added two new expansion teams, the Angels in Los Angeles and the new Washington Senators, who replaced the previous who transferred and renamed  itself the Minnesota Twins. The schedule was also expanded, it was thought temporarily, from 154 to 162 games. Yankee teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris engaged in a dramatic Home Run race to see which could break Babe's season record of 60 set in 1927. Maris beat Mantle 61 to 54. However, Maris took more than 154 games to hit number 60. And number 61 didn't come until the last game of the season. Both the 1927 and 1961 Yankees played a tie game and so 155 and 163 games respectively. Through 1961 Mantle had the 7th most HR in a season.

1Roger Maris61196126NYYAL161698590132159164141940677071600.269.372.620.993*98/H
2Babe Ruth60192732NYYAL1516915401581922981651378901476.356.486.7721.258*97
3Babe Ruth59192126NYYAL152693540177204441616814581441713.378.512.8461.359*78/13
4Hank Greenberg58193827DETAL155681556143175234147119923375.315.438.6831.122*3
5Jimmie Foxx58193224PHAAL154702585151213339169116960037.364.469.7491.218*35
6Hack Wilson56193030CHCNL155709585146208356191105841183.356.454.7231.177*8
7Mickey Mantle54196129NYYAL15364651413116316612812691120152121.317.448.6871.135*8/H
8Ralph Kiner54194926PITNL1526675491161701951271176110106.310.432.6581.089*7
9Babe Ruth54192833NYYAL154684536163173298146137873845.323.463.7091.172*97
10Babe Ruth54192025NYYAL14261645815817236913515080351414.376.532.8471.379*978/3H1

In 2017 Giancarlo Stanton hit the 9th most home runs ever in a season: 59 to lead the National League (NL) playing for the Miami Marlins. Stanton had led NL with 37 HR in 2014. In 2017 25 year old Yankee rookie Aaron Judge led the American League with 52 home runs.

1Barry Bonds73200136SFGNL15366447612915632213717735939025133.328.515.8631.379*7/DH
2Mark McGwire70199834STLNL15568150913015221014716228155604810.299.470.7521.222*3/H
3Sammy Sosa66199829CHCNL159722643134198200158731417110520189.308.377.6471.024*9/8
4Mark McGwire65199935STLNL153661521118145211147133211412051200.278.424.6971.120*3/H
5Sammy Sosa64200132CHCNL160711577146189345160116371536012602.328.437.7371.174*9
6Sammy Sosa63199930CHCNL1627126251141802421417881713061778.288.367.6351.002*98
7Roger Maris61196126NYYAL161698590132159164141940677071600.269.372.620.993*98/H
8Babe Ruth60192732NYYAL1516915401581922981651378901476.356.486.7721.258*97
9Giancarlo Stanton59201727MIANL15969259712316832013285131637031322.281.376.6311.007*9/HD
10Babe Ruth59192126NYYAL152693540177204441616814581441713.378.512.8461.359

The only two teammates to hit 50 home runs in the same season are Mantle and Maris. But it could happen again as Stanton was traded to the Yankees after the 2017 season. Stanton and Judge will be the only teammates other than Mantle and Maris who both hit 50 home runs the previous season. Obviously, Stanton and Judge did it for different teams.

Ruth's contract was sold to the Yankees for the start of 1920 and Ruth was released after 1934. Gehrig played full time for the Yankees 1925-1938. Ruth led the AL in HR for the Red Sox 1918 (11) and 1919 (29 - new record). After Ruth left, Gehrig led AL in HR for the third and final time with 49 in 1936.

Mantle played 1951-1968. Maris was traded to the Yankees for the start of the 1960 season and played through 1966.

Below are the seasons when these pairs of Yankee HR hitters were full time teammates. BOLD means led AL:
- year: team wins, i.e., won pennant
- player: HR champ

Ruth and Mantle +- (plus, minus) HR relative to their teammate.

Finally, Ruth and Mantle HR in Yankee seasons before their teammate joined the lineup.

Ruth +-5311327118072-2777
Mantle +-1-7-3-89111013

In 2018 it's very unlikely that either Stanton or Judge will hit 50 HR again, much less 60. It's even more unlikely that both will hit 50 again, much less 60. However, conditions are conducive:
- 2017 had the most HR of all time
- baseballs fly like they are made by Titleist, a famous brand of golf balls.

Their 2018 HR projections on baseball-reference.com:
Stanton: 43 HR in 516 AB
Judge: 37 HR in 453 AB

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