The Greatest and Most Obscure...Part II
Extra, Extra! Pinto Collision Results in Recall.
David Pinto, the author of Baseball Musings, responded to last weekend's article on The Greatest and Most Obscure Home Run Hitters of All Time in a post on his widely read blog last Monday. Based on the fact that Cy Williams (who ranks as one of the four most prolific sluggers in baseball history based on the number of HR hit vs. the league average) accumulated 161 four baggers at home and only 90 on the road, David writes that Cy's HR rate at home was 79% higher than for away games. Pinto proceeds to make the case that the power-hitting outfielder's ranking among home run sluggers should be discounted accordingly. David backs up his argument by pointing out that Babe Ruth (347-367) and Hank Aaron (386-370) hit almost the same number of HR at home as on the road.
Although I mentioned that Cy Williams benefited greatly by playing the majority of his home games in the HR-friendly confines of the Baker Bowl (see photo above), David's reply motivated me to determine where Williams would have placed in these same rankings after adjusting the number of HR hit at home to equal those on the road.
The following list ranks the top 25 HR hitters in modern baseball history relative to the league average home run rate:
HOMERUNS RATE PLAYER LEAGUE 1 Babe Ruth 777 714 92 2 Lou Gehrig 426 493 116 3 Jimmie Foxx 407 534 131 4 Cy Williams 390 251 64 5 Ken Williams 378 196 52 6 Mel Ott 372 511 137 7 Rogers Hornsby 365 301 82 8 Hank Greenberg 362 331 91 9 Ted Williams 359 521 145 10 Hack Wilson 351 244 69 11 Home Run Baker 351 96 27 12 Tilly Walker 347 118 34 13 Johnny Mize 336 359 107 14 Mark McGwire 328 583 178 15 Harry Davis 317 69 22 16 Wally Berger 311 242 78 17 Chuck Klein 309 300 97 18 Dolph Camilli 305 239 78 19 Mike Schmidt 303 548 181 20 Ralph Kiner 302 369 122 21 Joe DiMaggio 299 361 121 22 Rudy York 291 277 95 23 Jack Fournier 283 136 48 24 Mickey Mantle 282 536 190 25 Dave Kingman 281 442 157As shown, Williams ranks fourth all time in career HR divided by the league average based on outs. He actually ranks second based on plate appearances. By adjusting Williams' totals to exclude the "extra" HR he slugged by virtue of playing the majority of his home games at the Baker Bowl and give him an equivalent number of HR at home as on the road, it could be argued that Williams would have hit 180 HR in a more normalized environment (rather than 251). This reduced total divided by the league average of 64 results in a rate of 281, or good enough to tie Dave Kingman for 25th all time. Based on this study, I think it is only fair to conclude that Cy Williams wasn't just a great home run hitter because of the ballpark but instead was one of the very best HR sluggers relative to his era ever.
One final note: Among players ranked higher than Cy Williams' adjusted home run rate, only Ken Williams, Tilly Walker, Harry Davis, Wally Berger, Dolph Camilli, Rudy York, and Jack Fournier are not in the Hall of Fame. All of these batsmen led the league in roundtrippers one time with the exception being Harry Davis, who topped the A.L. four consecutive years (1904-1907).