As I get anxious for Opening Day, I find myself browsing the baseball record and history books for a little diversion. Here’s a look at the topic of offensive productivity – as measured by seasons in which a player both scored and drove in 100 or more runs.
Runs and RBI, nobody did a better job of putting them together than the Yankee’s Lou Gehrig – who strung together an MLB-record streak of 13 consecutive seasons of topping both 100 runs scored and 100 driven in. The streak ran from 1926 through 1938 and, during that stretch, the average Gehrig season was a .343 average, with 139 runs scored (a high of 167 in 1936), 147 RBI (a high of 185 in 1931), 36 home runs (49 in 1934 and 1936) – and he even tossed in an average of 12 triples and seven stolen bases per season. (Remember, they only played 154 games at that time.)
During this incredible stretch of offensive dominance, Gehrig led the AL in runs scored four times, RBI five times, home runs three times, batting average once, hits once, triples once and doubles twice.
IRON MAN – BISCUIT PANTS – LARRUPIN’ LOU
Lou Gehrig not only took a turn at leading the league in nearly every offensive category at least once during his on-field career, he also was the likely leader in nicknames. Here are a few of the most often used monikers:
Columbia Lou – Early in his career, because he was signed off the campus of Columbia University (football scholarship).
Buster – By teammates, early in his career, because of the way he “busted” baseballs.
Biscuit Pants – Because of the way his thick legs and lower torso filled out his baggy uniform pants.
Larrupin’ Lou – Because of the way he “larruped” a baseball.
Iron Man – Because he was in the lineup day-in and day-out.
The Iron Horse – (See above).
Second on the list of consecutive seasons of both 100+ Runs and 100+ RBI is Alex Rodriguez’ 11-season streak that ran from 1998 through 2008 and included three seasons with the Mariners, three with the Rangers and five with the Yankees. During his streak, Rodriguez averaged .304, with 122 runs, 125 RBI and 44 home runs per campaign. During that span, A-Rod led the league in runs scored four times (high of 143 in 2007), RBI twice (high of 156 in 2007) and home runs five times (high of 57 in 2002).
How impressive is Gehrig’s 13-seaason streak of 100+ runs scored AND 100+ runs batted in? Thirteen is also the record for streaks of EITHER 100+ runs scored or 100+ runs batted in. Jimmie Foxx (1929-41) and Alex Rodriguez (1998-2010) are tied with Gehrig for at 13 straight 100+ RBI seasons. In terms of runs scored, the three players who have run up strings of 13-consecutive such seasons are: Gehrig; Alex Rodriguez (1996-2008); and Hank Aaron (1955-67). Gehrig is, of course, the only one to do both in the same thirteen straight campaigns.
How does that compare with some other MLB greats?
Jimmie Foxx had a run of nine straight 100+ runs/100+ RBI seasons (1932-1940) – and a total of eleven in his 20-season MLB career.
Frank Thomas had a streak of eight 100/100 seasons (1991-1998) – and a total of nine
“double-hundreds” in his 19-season career.
Ted Williams ran up an unusual eight-year streak – that could have been much longer. He opened his career with four straight 100/100 seasons (1939-42) – lost three seasons to military service – then came back to put together four more consecutive 100/100 campaigns (1946-49), before breaking his arm in the 1950 All Star Game. (In 1950, he played just 89 games and still ran up 82 runs and 97 RBI). Williams had nine 100/100 seasons in his 19-year MLB career.
Babe Ruth’s longest streak of 100/100 seasons was seven (1926-32) – and he had 12 such campaigns in his 22-year career.
Willie Mays also had a seven-season 100/100 streak (1959-65) – and nine total (22 MLB seasons).
Albert Pujols (still active) started his MLB career with six consecutive 100/100 seasons (2001-2006) – and only a 99-RBI campaign in 2007 kept him from a streak of ten. Going into the 2017, Pujols has nine 100/100 campaigns.
Jeff Bagwell had a six-season 100/100 streak (1996-2001) – and had eight 100/100 seasons in a 15-year MLB career.
Hank Aaron’s longest 100+/100+streak was five seasons (1959-63), as were Ralph Kiner’s (1947-51) and Ken Griffey Jr’s (1996-2000). Those three players’ total number of 100/100 seasons are ten, six and six, respectively.
Miguel Cabrera (active) has a five-season 100/100 streak (2010-14) on his resume – and eight such seasons overall.
Stan Musial’s longest streak of consecutive 100/100 seasons was four (1948-51) – and he had a total of seven such seasons (22-year MLB career).
Barry Bonds had a four-year run of 100/100 campaigns (1995-98), as did Duke Snider (1953-56). Bonds had a total of eleven 100/100 seasons and Snider had five.
Here are the total number of 100/100 seasons for a few long-time major leaguers:
- Joe DiMaggio had a total of seven 100/100 seasons (in 13 MLB campaigns);
- Frank Robinson had six 100/100 seasons in a 21-year MLB career;
- Mike Schjmidt (18 seasons) and Manny Ramirez (19 seasons) also each had six 100/100 campaigns;
- Honus Wagner and Rogers Hornsby each had five 100/100 seasons (in 21- and 23-year MLB careers, respectively);
- Sammy Sosa had five 100/100 campaigns (18 seasons);
- Ty Cobb had four (in 24 seasons), as did Eddie Mathews (17 seasons);
- Mickey Mantle (18 MLB seasons), Mark McGwire (16 seasons) and David Ortiz (20 seasons) each reached the 100/100 mark three times.
- Willie McCovey (22 seasons), Dave Winfield (22 seasons), and Kirby Puckett (12 seasons) each had two 100/100 years.
Looking at a sampling of additional active players (not inclusive, just a sample): Ryan Braun has four 100/100 seasons (consecutive, 2009-12); Adrian Gonzalez has three; Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmidt have two each.
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