At some point in 2016, it's likely that the Yankees and MLB will acknowledge the 75th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio's 1941 season, in which he hit in a record 56 consecutive games. Despite the late Yogi Berra's proclamation that a record of his "would always stand until it was broken", this is one baseball record that will almost certainly stand the test of time (along with Cy Young's 511 career wins, Cal Ripken Jr.'s 2,632 consecutive games played, and Old Hoss Radbourn's single-season win total of 59 in 1884). What you may not know is that DiMaggio holds another record that also may not be broken anytime soon.
We all know what a tremendous hitter and overall player the Yankee Clipper was. In 13 seasons, the centerfielder slashed .325/.398/.579 with 361 career home runs, 1,537 RBI and over 2,200 hits. According to Baseball-Reference.com, his average 162-game season ("an attempt to condense each batter's career into a single season's worth of stats" by taking "their career games played and divide by 162, and then divide their career totals by that factor") produced the following line:
You may have noticed in his averages that DiMaggio only struck out on average of 34 times over the course of a 162-game season. While DiMaggio played in an era where seasons were still 154 games, this adjusted number is still very low, especially by today's standards. The man rarely struck out, and his high for strikeouts in a season (39) was set during his rookie year.
This brings us to the record that DiMaggio holds that, along with his famous streak, may be close to impossible to break: according to Baseball-Reference, the three-time A.L. Most Valuable Player holds the record for most seasons with more home runs than strikeouts in a single season (with a minimum of 20 home runs). He accomplished this feat an amazing seven times in his 13 big league seasons.
Here is the full list of players who have had seasons of more long balls than punch outs (again, with the minimum 20 home run plateau):
DiMaggio- 7 seasons
Yogi Berra- 5
Ted Kluszewski- 4
Bill Dickey- 3
Johnny Mize- 3
Lefty O'Doul- 3
Ted Williams- 3
Ken Williams- 2
13 players with one such season (this includes players such as Barry Bonds, George Brett, Stan Musial, and Mel Ott)
So in the 45 instances where a player has met such conditions, DiMaggio is responsible for roughly 15.6% of those seasons alone. If that weren't enough, five of those seven seasons occurred consecutively from 1937-41. The other two seasons came in 1946 (in his first year back from serving three years of military service in World War II, no less) and in 1948.
Perhaps you think a 20 home run benchmark is too low, and that true power hitters hit 30 or more. Fine, then let's increase it to a 30 home run minimum. Even when we do that, the 13-time All-Star (yes he made the All-Star team in every season of his career) still stands tall:
DiMaggio- 6 seasons
Nine players with one
As BR points out, of the 45 total seasons of more home runs than strikeouts by a batter who hit at least 20 home runs, only two of those seasons have occurred since 1956 (by Bonds in 2004 and Brett in 1980).
This makes it likely that, going forward, those such seasons are even less likely to happen. The top power hitters in the game today are striking out well over 125-150 times in a season. Check out the player pages for players such as Miguel Cabrera, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, and you'll see what I mean. You can even check the strikeout and home run totals of guys like Willie Mays, Jimmie Foxx, and Babe Ruth and you'll find just how hard it is to do what DiMaggio did once, let alone seven times. That's why he's one of the best to ever do it.
Comment and vote below and let us know which DiMaggio record you think is more impressive. Will anyone ever come close to breaking either record?