Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Report: Five WTF 40 Home Run Seasons

5. Ryne Sandberg, Chicago Cubs, 1990, 40 home runs
Some day, Moseby Fears Satan will expose Ryne Sandberg for what he is: a very good but not great player. He was a servicable fielder, a good second basement in an era of piss poor second basemen and he brought a bit of pop in an EXTREMELLY home run friendly park. Yet he wasn't a power hitter. His 40 home runs in 1990 were by far a career high. In fact, he only topped 20 in 5 of his other 15 season. Yet he made 10 straight All Star Games some how. What the (heck)?

4. Javier Lopez, Atlanta Braves, 2003, 43 home runs
Only a handful of catchers reach 20 home runs in a season so Javier Lopez's 43 dinger performance in 2003 was a true rarity. Especially in an age 32 season. And (miraculously) in a contract year. As their known to do, the Baltimore Orioles took the bait and paid Javy close to $20 million to hit an additional 46 home runs... um, over the next three seasons. Considering that Lopez' previous career high was 34 six seasons earlier, not a huge surprise. Good hitter. Especially for a catcher. Just not 46 home runs worth of goodness.

3. Brady Anderson, Baltimore Orioles, 1996, 50 home runs
The chiselled good looks and manicured, McKay-esque sideburns of Brady Anderson could shield him from much finger pointin', allegations and naysayers. It's insane but 50 is 2x more home runs than Anderson hit in any other season and in fact, is almost 25% of his career total. This was one of the first signs that "something is up" during the mid-Nineties and really lead to a level of paraonoia that has plagued the game ever since.

2. Richard Hidalgo, Houston Astros, 2000, 44 home runs
I forgot about this guy. He was a complete beast in Houston 2000 but much like Morgan Ensberg a few seasons later, it was largely a one season thing. Actually, he did have a few other decent seasons but nothing that came anywhere close to 44 home runs. He was out of baseball by age 30, a victim of escalating salaries and the shrinking of MLB's middle class. Poor bastard also got carjacked in 2002. Ouch!

1. Todd Hundley, New York Mets, 1996, 41 home runs
I never liked this guy. Not personally but as a player. Yeah, it's cool he was a switch hitter but he wasn't a good fielder (threw out a mere 25% of runners for his career), he seldom hit above 0.250 and was a complete all-or-nothing hitter who struck out way, way too much. Yet he played for 14 seasons, perhaps buoyed by his famous father and his 1996 campaign, where he belted an incredible 41 home runs. Hundley hit a solid 202 home runs for his career but still, when you whiff a quarter of your at-bats, don't contribute much of anything defensively and are constantly making "bedroom eyes" at the Mendoza Line, you better be bringing the pop.

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