30 home runs is a benchmark season. In the history of Major League Baseball there has been 1,216 seasons of 30 or more home runs. One of those was by Ival Goodman. Did you know that? I didn’t think so. But maybe, 30 home runs shouldn’t be a benchmark. Sometimes it’s just a number. Here are the worst five Offensive seasons of 30 or more home runs. Defensive value is not a part of this calculation.
5. Joe Carter 1996: 0.6 oWAR. Carter had some fine seasons in his career, but this was not one of them. His batting line was a very pedestrian .253/.306/.475, for a sub-par 92 wRC+. He did have 30 home runs and 107 RBI. Carter made the All-Star Game in ’96 thanks to a big first half, but slumped to .216/.247/.378 in the second half. Of course, you can’t mention Joe Carter without bringing up the walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Here it is, in all it’s glory.
4. Vinny Castilla 1999: 0.5 oWAR. Castilla hit .275/.331/.478 which looks pretty good on paper until you remember that this was pre-humidor Coors Field, and you see that it’s a mere 78 wRC+. Vinny parlayed that season into a free-agent contract with the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays and produced a 35 wRC+. He hung around for a few more years, and had a decent 2004 season with the Rockies.
3. Tony Armas 1983: -0.1 oWAR. Armas hit 36 home runs in ’83. However, he also produced a .218/.254/.453 batting line and he led the AL by grounding into 31 double plays. The 84 wRC+ was the lowest full-season mark of his career. Patience wasn’t a big part of Armas’ game, as shown by his career 4.7% walk rate and .287 on-base percentage.
2. Tony Batista 2004: -0.1 oWAR. 32 home runs and 110 RBI. .241/.272/.455 line and a 76 wRC+. Yeah, that about sums it up for Batista.
1. Dave Kingman 1986: -0.8 oWAR. Kong was a one-dimensional player. Over the course of his career, he hit 442 home runs yet totaled just 20.4 WAR, with just one season of more than 2.6 WAR. ’86 was Kingman’s final year, and he crushed 35 home runs. He also managed a woeful .210/.255/.431 line with a 86 wRC+. ’82 was a pretty similar season as Kingman hit 37 home runs with a .204/.285/.432 line and just 0.6 oWAR.
So, the moral of the story is that sometimes players hit a lot of home runs but they aren’t good. Stay away from Nelson Cruz.
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