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Big Bang Theory

Sept. 28, 1998
Sept. 28, 1998

Table of Contents
Sept. 28, 1998

Big Bang Theory

Has Sammy Sosa had the most productive season by any power
hitter in the past 60 years? Yes, if you consider the glam power
stats. From 1939 to this season, through Sunday, hitters had
reached 50 home runs only 17 times, 150 RBIs just eight times
and 400 total bases only four times. Over that span no player
other than Sosa had reached any two of those thresholds in their
careers. Sosa, who had 154 RBIs and 398 total bases to go with
his 63 homers through Sunday, figures to hit all three
milestones this season. And he'll have done it under the
unprecedented dual pressures of intensely watched home run and
wild-card races.

This is an article from the Sept. 28, 1998 issue

That makes Sosa the winner of the swimsuit competition in this
beauty pageant, but does he get the tiara, too, as the best
overall slugger since the slam-bang 1930s? Probably not. He
strikes out too much, walks too infrequently, doesn't have an
extraordinarily high batting average and has a slugging
percentage this season that won't rank in the top 50 alltime. As
the statistics below show, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Mickey
Mantle and Larry Walker have had more efficient seasons overall.
Also, don't forget Mark McGwire, whose combined slugging and
on-base percentages--a top indicator of overall productivity,
though one too often overlooked--this year was 1.205 through
Sunday. Only Babe Ruth (his best mark was 1.378), Ted Williams
(1.286), Rogers Hornsby (1.245), Lou Gehrig (1.240) and Jimmie
Foxx (1.218) have been better than that over a full season.

There's no denying, however, that Sosa, despite a relatively
modest 1.015 combined slugging and on-base percentage, belongs in
their company. Here are the players who since '39 have had either
400 or more total bases in a season, or exceeded all three of the
following in a season: 350 total bases, 130 RBIs and a .650
slugging percentage.

--Tom Verducci

PLAYER, TEAM YEAR AB R H 2B 3B HR

Sammy Sosa, Cubs 1998 615 126 189 20 0 63

Mark McGwire, Cardinals 1998 483 122 140 20 0 64

Albert Belle, White Sox 1998 580 108 187 46 2 47

Larry Walker, Rockies 1997 568 143 208 46 4 49

Jim Rice, Red Sox 1978 677 121 213 25 15 46

Norm Cash, Tigers 1961 535 119 193 22 8 41

Hank Aaron, Braves 1959 629 116 223 46 7 39

Mickey Mantle, Yankees 1956 533 132 188 22 5 52

Ted Williams, Red Sox 1949 566 150 194 39 3 43

Stan Musial, Cardinals 1948 611 135 230 46 18 39

Hank Greenberg, Tigers 1940 573 129 195 50 8 41

SLUG ON-BASE
[PLAYER] TB RBI BB SO PCT PCT BA

[Sosa] 398 154 69 163 .647 .375 .307
[McGwire] 352 136 156 149 .729 .465 .290
[Belle] 378 144 76 80 .652 .393 .322
[Walker] 409 130 78 90 .720 .452 .366
[Rice] 406 139 58 126 .600 .370 .315
[Cash] 354 132 124 85 .662 .487 .361
[Aaron] 400 123 51 54 .636 .401 .355
[Mantle] 376 130 112 99 .705 .464 .353
[Williams] 368 159 162 48 .650 .490 .343
[Musial] 429 131 79 34 .702 .450 .376
[Greenberg] 384 150 93 75 .670 .433 .340

COLOR PHOTO: V.J. LOVERO Number 63 A grand slam in San Diego added to Sosa's already gaudy power stats.[Sammy Sosa watching ball after hit]