Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Who's on First? In the 60s Everybody Knew

It's gratifying when an impression that you have held for a long time turns out to be true. The 'Golden Age' of baseball for me was the 60s, probably because I was a young fan at the time. (I turned nine in 1960.) The particular impression to which I refer was that every team in the Sixties had a powerful first baseman. There are a lot of them around now too, we are witnessing a renaissance of power at first.

I define a power hitter as a player who hits 30 home runs. Twenty is good, 28 is very good, but I don't think you're really a power hitter unless you can knock a ball out of the park thirty times in a year.

I may have missed the odd player or two who had one or maybe even two years with 30 or more, but I have gone through the annals pretty carefully. Here are the first basemen I found in each decade who hit at least 30 in a season. Judge for yourself which decade featured the most powerful first basemen. 

Note: I list a couple of players, such as Rudy York, Jim Thome, and Mark McGwire, under two decades because they hit 30 or more in more than one year in each decade.

The 30s  
Lou Gehrig, Yankees  from  1930 - '37 hit  41, 46, 34, 32, 49, 30, 49, 37;  493 lifetime
Jimmy Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics  1930 to '39 hit 37, 30, 58, 48, 44, 36, 41, 36, 50, 35; 534 lifetime
Hal Trotsky,  Indians  hit 35 in '34, 42 in '36, and 32 in '37
Hank Greenberg, Tigers 36 in '35, 40 in '37, 58 in '38, 33 in '39, and 331 for his career (shortened by war)
Rudy York,  Tigers  35 in '37, 33 in '38

The 40s 
Hank Greenberg, Tigers  41 in '40 and 44 in '46
Rudy York, Tigers  33 in '40 and 34 in '43
Johnny Mize, Cardinals/Giants  43 in 1940, 51 in '47, and 40 in '48

The 50s 
Gil Hodges,  Brooklyn Dodgers  1950 - '54 32, 40, 32, 31, 42 and 32 in '56 with 370 for his career
Walt Dropo,  Tigers  hit 34 in 1950 as a rookie
Luke Easter,  Indians  hit 31 in '52
Ted Kluszewski,  Reds  from '53 to '56 hit 40, 49, 47, and 35 and finished with 279

The 60s
Joe Adcock,  Braves  hit 38 in '56, 35 in 1961  336 in all
Dick Stuart,  Pirates/Red Sox hit 35 in '61, then 42, 33 in '63, '64
Jim Gentile, Orioles hit 46, then 33 in '61, '62
Harmon Killebrew,  Twins  from '59 to '64 he hit 42, 31, 46, 48, 45, and 49; after an off year of 25 he hit 39 and 44, then 17, then 49 and 41 in  '69 and 70;  573 in all
Frank Howard,  Dodgers/ Sentors  31 in '62, and 36, 44, 48, 44 from '67 to '70;  382 for his career
Boog Powell, Orioles hit 39 in '64, 34 in '66, then 37 and 35 in  '69 and 70, total of 339
Norm Cash, Tigers hit 41, 39 in '61, '62, then 30 and 32 in '65, '66, and finally 32 in '71; 377 in all
Rocky Colavito,  Indians 59 to '63 hit 41, 42, 35, 45, 37, then 34 in '64 and 30 in '66; 374 in all (at right with Norm Cash and a couple of other guys who could hit the ball out)
Joe Pepitone, Yankees hit 31 in '66
Mike Epstein, Senators hit 30 in '69
Dick Allen, hit 40 in '66, then 33, 32, 34 from '68 to '70, 37 and 32 in '72 and '74, 351 in all
Ernie Banks, Cubs (had moved over from shortstop) hit 32 in '68
Willie McCovey,  Giants  hit 44 in '63, then had 39, 36, 31, 36, 45, 39  521 homers for his career
Orlando Cepeda, Cardinals  1961 to '64 hit 46, 35, 34, 31  hit 379 lifetime

The 70s 
Orlando Cepeda, Atlanta Braves  34 in 1970
George Scott Brewers/Red Sox hit 36 and 33 in '75 and '77
Willie Stargell   Pirates  '70 to '73 31, 48, 33, 44  then 32 in '79 totaled 475 over 21 years
Nate Colbert  Padres  38 in '70 and 38 in '72
George Scott   Brewers  36 in '75 and '33 in '77
Tony Perez, Reds  40 in '70, no more than 28 after that

The 80s
Eddie Murray Orioles   '80 - '85  hit 32, 22. 32, 33, 29, 31;  504 home runs
Don Mattingly  Yankees  1985 - '87    35, 31, 30
Wally Joyner Angels ht 34 in '87
Steve Balboni Royals hit 36 in '85
Will Clark  Giants hit 35 in '87
Jack Clark  Cardinals hit 35 in '87
Mark McGwire, Athletics  49, 32, 33 from '87 to '89

The 90s
Mark McGwire, Athletics/ Cardinals  hit 39, 22, 42 from '90 to 92, then 39, 52, 58, 70, 65 from '95 to '99
Fred McGriff, Atlanta Braves   493  home runs 1988 - '92 34, 36, 35, 31, 35
Cecil Fielder, Tigers from '90 to '95 hit 51, 44, 35, 30, 28, and 31
Frank Thomas, White Sox  521 homers  1993 - 1997 41, 38, 40, 40, 35
Jeff Bagwell,  Astros   449 home runs  1993- 2000 his totals were 39, 21, 31, 43, 34, 42, and 47
Andres Galarraga,  Rockies from '94 to '98 hit 31, 31, 47, 41, and 44
Todd Helton, Rockies  354  2000- 2004  42, 49, 30, 33, 32
Rafael Palmerio, Rangers/Orioles  had 37 in '93, then 39, 39, 38, 43, 47 from '95 to '99  
Jim Thome, Indians  1996 - '99   38, 40, 30, 33, 37

The 2000s 
Rafael Palmerio, Orioles/ Rangers  hit 39, 47, 43, 38 from '2000 to '03; 569 homers (incl. tainted ones)
Jim Thome,  Phillies  2000 - '08  37, 49, 52, 47, 42, 7, 42, 35, 34 has 611 to date (5 last year 2 this year)
Albert Pujols, Cardinals  2001 - 2010  37, 34, 43, 46, 41, 49, 32, 37, 47, 42  now at 471
Adrian Gonzales, Red Sox  2007 - 2010  30, 36, 40, 31
Prince Fielder, Brewers hit 50, 34, 46, 32, and 38 from 2007 to 2011 (already 252 lifetime)
Mark Teixeira, Yankees  38, 43, 33, 30 from '04 to '07 and 39, 33, 39 '09 to 2011
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers from '04 to '11 hit 33, 33, 26, 34, 37, 34, 38, 30 and has 30 already in '12
Ryan Howard, Phillies   58, 47, 48, 45, 31, 33  2006 to 2011
Joey Volto, Reds  37 in 2010
Adam Lind, Jays hit 35 in 2009
Adam Dunn, Red, Nationals, White Sox hit 46, 40, 40, 40, 40, 38, 38 from 2004 to '10, 36 this year
Carlos Pena, Rays  46 in 2007, 31 in '08, 39 in '09
Paul Konerko, White Sox  41,40, 35, 31 '04 to '07, then 39 in 2010, 31 in 2011 total of 414
Justin Morneau,  Twins  34 in 2006, 31 in '07, 30 in '09




This Week's Trivia: What manager had the toughest decision ever regarding first base?

Answer: Alvin Dark, he had to choose between All-Star Orlando Cepeda (46, 142, .311 in '61) and young Willie McCovey (18, 50,. 271 in 328 ABs).

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

Those are some awesome players on that list!