Driving in runs without the home run a thing of the past
Posted: Wednesday September 08, 1999 04:17 PM
By Ryan Hunt, CNN/SI
Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire may be bashing baseballs out of stadiums left and right, but maybe they still could learn a thing from Lave Cross.
With 58 home runs, Sosa has managed only 126 RBIs. McGwire, meanwhile, has 54 home runs and 123 RBIs. While those are whopping run-production numbers, it is more of a case of quantity over quality.
Sosa has knocked in 2.17 runs per every home run this season. McGwire's is 2.28. Cross, meanwhile, drove in 108 runs for the 1902 Philadelphia Athletics. He didn't hit one home run all season.
Granted, it was a different era. But even 97 years later, Cross remains the only man in the 20th century to drive in 100 runs without a home run.
In fact, the skill of driving in 100 runs without a ton of home runs is a lost art.
In the last 50 years, only Paul Molitor and Tommy Herr have hit fewer than 10 home runs and still driven in 100 runs.
Molitor did it with Minnesota in 1996, finishing with 113 RBIs and nine homers (12.56). Herr knocked in 110 runs while hitting only eight homers (13.75) for St. Louis in 1985.
In the 1930s, the feat happened 19 times.
For more perspective, look at the 1927 Pirates. Pittsburgh had 54 home runs as a team -- six less than Babe Ruth did in '27 -- and had three players with more than 100 RBIs.
Paul Waner led the National League with 131 RBIs while hitting only nine homers, the most ever RBIs by a player with fewer than 10 homers.
Or look at Hall of Famer Pie Traynor. The Pirates third baseman had a HR-to-RBI ratio of 21.9 for his career.
From 1927-31, Traynor drove in 100 runs in five consecutive seasons. He never hit more than nine home runs in any of those years, driving in a total of 560 runs.
In 1928, he was second in the National League with 124 RBIs. He hit three home runs all season, compiling a ratio of a ridiculous 41.3.
And that wasn't exactly a dead-ball era. Ruth hit 255 home runs in that five-year span.
Even players with fewer than 20 homers aren't driving in 100 runs with consistency.
Since 1970, there have been only 25 players that have reached 100 RBIs with 20 or fewer home runs. Only four -- Thurman Munson (1975-78), Bill Buckner ('82 and '86), Kirby Puckett ('92 and '94) and Rusty Greer ('96 and '98) -- did it more than once in that span.
In '99, of the 21 players that have 100 RBIs or more as of Monday, the player with the fewest home runs is Atlanta's Brian Jordan (22).