I looked up the lifetime stats for star shortstop Cecil Travis of the Washington Senators (he just died at the age of 93) and found this for the '36 season:
Batting average: .317
Home runs: 2
I wouldn’t have believed it possible to knock in that many runs with so few HRs (in '41 he had 101 RBIs to go with 7 home runs).
It’s not a unique achievement, I’m sure, but how many players today have done something similar?
Tom Herr of the St Louis Cardinals
1987 2 HR 83 RBI .267 BA
1987 0 HR 75 RBI .303 BA
Cardinals didn’t hit many homers in the '80s
The closest anyone came in 2006 was Freddie Sanchez for the Pirates: 6 HR, 85 RBI.
Tommy Herr also had a year when he hit 8 homers and drove in 110 runs.
In 1996, Paul Molitor hit 9 homers and drove in 113 RBI.
Those two are, I believe, the only times in the last 25 years anyone has driven in 100 or more runs with single digit homers.
Of course, in the dead ball era this sort of thing happened all the time. Ty Cobb had five seasons of single season homers and 100+ RBI; Honus Wagner had seven. The only reason it doesn’t happen now is that guys who don’t hit homers generally don’t bat third or fourth; if they did, lots of no-power guys could drive in 100.
Travis had loads of doubles that year (and every year, it seems). And hits in general.
If there’s a guy on 1st or 2nd you don’t need a HR to drive him in. Granted, you get twice the runs batted in if you get a HR…but if you’ve got a couple of good hitters ahead of you that sort of stat is not hard to come by.
You do realize how big ballparks used to be. Homeruns were a lot harder to come by. Also someone with speed could score more often due to the size of the outfield. Although it is impossible to say for sure but Joe Dimaggio probably would have had 200 more homeruns if he wasn’t hitting in fields that had 420+ foot centerfields.
While some ballparks used to have fences with distances farther than some today, you can’t generalize.
For instance, old Griffith Stadium(1911-1955), where Cecil Travis had to play, was the toughest park to hit home runs in either the AL or NL. Period. But I doubt that accounted for his lack of homeruns.
As far as whether Dimaggio would have hit 200 more homeruns playing somewhere else–what do you base this on? I’m not familiar as to where he hit most of his homers, left or left center. Yankee stadium wasn’t a tough park to hit homers in, unless you hit all of your long balls to direct center. Did he do this?
It is pretty easy to say for sure that Joe DiMaggio would not have hit 200 more home runs. I mean, some of the ballparks were bigger, but some of them were smaller, too. Some ballparks TODAY have center fields that deep.
DiMaggio in his career hit 361 homers in 13 years. It seems unlikely he’d have hit 561 in 13 years - basically making him the greatest home run hitter of all time, considering the war-shorted career - playing in, say, Riverfront Stadium.
My one and only multi-year comparison stat: Rafael Belliard went about 10 years between his two homeruns (Pirates and Braves). Looks like at least 91 RBIs inbetween them according to the baseball almanac.
In 1988 he set the MLB record for having 286 ABs and not getting a double. (But he got 4 triples.) Shortest player in the Majors during that era.
So, start looking for someone a little better than Raffy (but not too much better, like his cousin Ronnie). Bunt specialist. (Yeah, like anyone bunts anymore.)