Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Shortest Players to Lead Their League in Homers

When you look at the imposing Giancarlo Stanton (6-foot-6) and Aaron Judge (6-foot-7), it makes a lot of sense that they led their respective league in homers last season.

But when it comes to shows of prodigious power, don't count out the little guy.

Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, one of the rising superstars of the game, is embroiled in a furious race with J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox and Khris Davis of the A's for the American League home run crown with a little less than two months to go in the season.

While they're not quite Jose Altuve (5-foot-6) or Ozzie Albies (5-foot-8), the 5-foot-9 Ramirez (33 homers) and 5-foot-10 Davis (32) have made outsized contributions to highlight reels all season long, powering past the big guys in twin bids to become, as it turns out, one of the shortest players in MLB history to lead his league in homers.

As you'll soon see, they have some fine company. Read on to learn about the 10 shortest league home run champions of the live ball era (since 1920).

Hack Wilson, 5-foot-6
1926, '27, '28, '30
Despite being the shortest player on this list, it would be quite misleading to call Wilson "diminutive." Weighing in at a robust 190 pounds, Wilson, nicknamed "Hack" due to his resemblance to wrestler and strongman Georg Hackenschmidt, reportedly boasted an 18-inch neck and a "barrel-shaped chest," more than making up for his lack of height with his considerable heft, larger-than-life personality and prolific performance on the field.

In his six seasons with the Cubs, Wilson led the National League in homers four times, highlighted by a monstrous 1930 campaign (aided by a livened ball) in which he recorded a single-season Major League record 191 RBIs and foreshadowed the advent of the "three true outcomes" hitter by more than half a century, leading the league in homers (56), strikeouts (84) and walks (105) while hitting .356.

Wilson's 56 homers in 1930 stood as an NL record for a remarkable 68 years until it was finally broken by Mark McGwire (11 inches taller than Wilson) in his 70-homer campaign in 1998. Through those intervening generations, prolific sluggers like Mel Ott, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell and Mike Schmidt often came close in the Senior Circuit, but they always fell short of Wilson's record.

Mel Ott, 5-foot-9
1932, '34, '36, '37, '38, '42
After Wilson's relatively short-lived career came to an end in the early 1930s (he was a heavy drinker and reported to Spring Training 20 pounds overweight in 1931), Ott emerged as one of the premier power hitters of the NL in the ensuing two decades, leading the league in homers six times during his 22-year career with the New York Giants. He led the Giants in homers for an astonishing 18 consecutive seasons from 1928-45.

Ott made up for his lack of stature with an exaggerated leg kick that added power to his left-handed swing, though the short right-field porch at the Polo Grounds (258 feet down the line) undoubtedly boosted his power numbers as well. Opposing pitchers frequently pitched around Ott -- he led the league in walks six times, and surpassed 100 free passes 10 times in his career.

A 12-time All-Star inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1951, Ott became the NL's leader in career home runs in 1937 at age 28 (passing Rogers Hornsby), and his 511 homers remained an NL record until he was surpassed by Mays. Ott is 25th on the all-time home runs list.

Ripper Collins, 5-foot-9
Collins isn't one of the most recognizable names on this list -- aside from his standout 1934 campaign, in which he tied Ott for the NL lead in homers with 35 and finished sixth in MVP Award voting -- but the St. Louis first baseman had a solid but unremarkable career, amassing 135 homers and 659 RBIs in parts of nine Major League seasons.

Reportedly nicknamed "Ripper" after he once tore the cover on a ball by hitting it into an exposed nail on the outfield fence in his youth, Collins hit double-digit homers in seven seasons and won the World Series with the Cardinals in 1931 and '34.

Kevin Mitchell, 5-foot-10
Mitchell was a journeyman outfielder and third baseman who played for eight teams in his solid 13-year Major League career, becoming most famous for a highlight-reel catch in 1989 while playing left field for the Giants, in which he overran a foul ball off the bat of Ozzie Smith but reached back to make a barehanded catch.

But that 1989 season was special at the plate as well. Everything seemed to click for Mitchell, who more than doubled his previous season high in homers from 22 to 47 as he led the Senior Circuit in homers, RBIs and slugging to win the NL Most Valuable Player Award. He finished third in the NL in homers in 1990 with 35, but he only touched 30 homers in a season once more in his final seven seasons.

Willie Mays, 5-foot-10
1955, '62, '64, '65
With 660 career homers, a first-ballot Hall of Fame election, two NL Most Valuable Player Awards, 12 Gold Glove Awards and 24 All-Star Game appearances in his storied 22-year career, the Say Hey Kid is perhaps baseball's greatest example of a physically small player blessed with prodigious power.

Despite being listed at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Mays is fifth on the all-time homers list behind Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Alex Rodriguez. Somewhat surprisingly, he only led the NL in homers four times despite exceeding 35 homers 10 times in his career, racking up his homer total through his health and longevity.

From his first career homer in 1951 (off Hall of Famer Warren Spahn) to his final long ball 22 years later, the majority of Mays' homers were pulled, but he was known for his ability to adjust his swing to provide power to all fields, with 186 of his 660 homers going to center or to the right of center. Baseball may never again see a diminutive power hitter like Mays.

Al Rosen, 5-foot-10
1950, '53
It took the future Giants general manager until his fourth Major League season to secure regular playing time. Perhaps the Cleveland Indians should have turned to him sooner.

Rosen didn't hit a homer across 35 combined games in his first three seasons, but as a 26-year-old rookie in 1950, Rosen crashed onto the scene with a league-leading 37 long balls (better than Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams), setting an AL rookie record that stood until McGwire topped it with the Oakland A's in '87.

But the finest year of the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Rosen's career came in 1953, when he narrowly missed the AL Triple Crown and won his only AL Most Valuable Player Award with a league-leading 43 homers and 145 RBIs. He hit a career-best .336 that season, losing the batting title by one point to Mickey Vernon of the Washington Senators. Rosen is Cleveland's last AL MVP Award winner.

Tommy Holmes, 5-foot-10
And here we enter the World War II phase of this list. With many of the sport's stars -- including Williams, Stan Musial and DiMaggio -- serving in the armed forces in the early 1940s, numerous less established players were given the opportunity to showcase their talents, opening the door for players like Holmes to produce standout numbers.

Holmes, an outfielder, played all but one of his 11 seasons with the Boston Braves, and he hit a career-best 28 homers in 1945, also leading the NL in hits, doubles and slugging. He finished second in both the MVP Award and batting title races to Phil Cavarretta of the Cubs.

With most of the Major Leagues' premier talent returning for the 1946 season, Holmes' homer total dipped to six, and he never again reached double digits in his final seven years. His 88 career homers are the fewest on this list.

Vern Stephens, 5-foot-10
Though Stephens was also a fine power hitter in the late 1940s following the return of wartime ballplayers, topping out at 39 homers and a league-leading 159 RBIs in '49, his power prime unfortunately coincided with the profound success of both Williams and DiMaggio, who traded the league's home run crown from 1947-49.

That meant that Stephens' lone home run title came in 1945, with a comparatively paltry total of 24 roundtrippers. He was known for his standout power from what was, at the time, a light-hitting shortstop position.

Stephens' 24 homers in 1945 were the most in a single season in baseball history by a shortstop to that point, and prior to his retirement in '55, he had the four highest such single-season totals by a shortstop in the Major Leagues. (Ernie Banks then promptly hit 44 roundtrippers in '55.)

Dolph Camilli, 5-foot-10
One of the more consistent power hitters of the late 1930s and early '40s, Camilli, a first baseman, spent the majority of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers, and he played a major role in the Dodgers' worst-to-first turnaround from his acquisition in 1938 to winning the NL pennant in '41.

Camilli's career year in 1941 spurred that World Series push, as he led the NL with career highs in homers (34) and RBIs (120) en route to winning his only NL Most Valuable Player Award. It wasn't enough to give the Dodgers the crown, though -- they lost the World Series in five games to the Yankees.

Camilli's ferocious power swing helped him post at least 20 homers in eight consecutive seasons from 1935-42, but he also led the league in strikeouts four times, including a career-high 115 in his 1941 MVP Award-winning season.

Joe Medwick, 5-foot-10
A left fielder who collected 2,471 hits in his 17-year Hall of Fame career, Medwick saw his power leave him for the most part after his age-29 season. But through his 20s, he posted nine straight seasons of at least 14 homers, including his NL Triple Crown campaign in 1937 (the last Triple Crown in the NL).

During that 1937 season, Medwick led the league in hits (237), runs (111), homers (31), RBIs (154), batting average (.374) and doubles (56), garnering the NL Most Valuable Player Award with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was better known for his prowess in hitting doubles -- his 63 two-baggers in 1934 remain an NL record to this day, threatened most recently by Colorado's Todd Helton (59) in 2000.

Medwick was nicknamed "Ducky" by the public for his burly stature and his somewhat awkward gait -- to his teammates, he insisted on being called "Muscles."

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Baseball Fielding Drills: Double Play Drill with Soft Hands Glove

The art of the double play relies heavily on the transfer at second base. Train your talents for a smooth transition with this baseball drill.

Find out how you can practice your double play transitions with soft hands and quick throws by using this Pro Tips indoor baseball training drill from DICK’S Sporting Goods. Learn the importance of training with a soft hands glove and how to properly work your movements up the middle for a successful double play this baseball season.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

What Do I Teach During My Lessons?

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Rich Lovell discusses what he covers in every lesson he gives to create maximum bat speed and power.

Click Here for Online Hitting Lessons, Video Analysis, Hitting Camps and lessons before 4p.m. through my Epstein Online Academy Page:

Monday, August 20, 2018

Longest Home Runs for Every MLB Team

Ever since Babe Ruth launched Major League Baseball into the live-ball era with his awe-inspiring home runs, wowed fans have been asking: "How far did that ball go?"

Teams had their own methods for estimating home run distance for nearly a century. But now, the launch of Statcast™ has given us a whole new tool to answer the question, thanks to the tracking technology at every MLB ballpark.

Here is a look at the longest homers hit by each of the 30 MLB clubs since Statcast™ began tracking home run distances at the start of the 2015 season.

American League East

Blue Jays: Josh Donaldson, April 23, 2015, vs. BAL; Sept. 17, 2017, at MIN
Distance: 481 feet (Watch them: HR No. 1; HR No. 2)
Both of these big flies were demolished. The first, with a 112.5-mph exit velocity, Donaldson launched into the second deck at the Rogers Centre. He hit the second even harder, at 113.5 mph, reaching the upper tank at Minnesota's Target Field.

Orioles: Jonathan Schoop, Aug. 26, 2015, at KC
Distance: 484 feet
The Orioles have had their share of big sluggers in recent years, but it's Schoop who holds this title. One of baseball's best sluggers at second base, he jumped on this Johnny Cueto pitch that tailed in off the inside corner and kept it just fair down the left-field line at Kauffman Stadium.

Rays: J.P. Arencibia, Sept. 7, 2015, at DET; C.J. Cron, Aug. 18, 2018, at BOS
Distance: 464 feet
Arencibia played only 24 games for Tampa Bay -- all in 2015, his final MLB season -- but he had no shortage of power. The opposing pitcher for this home run, the Tigers' Randy Wolf, was also in his final season. Nonetheless, they combined for an entry in the Rays' Statcast™ record book.

Arencibia got company when Cron showed off some light-tower power at Fenway Park in the dog days of August 2018. Cron crushed a 112.9 mph, 33-degree, 464-foot moonshot off David Price way over the Green Monster and over Lansdowne Street.

Red Sox: Hanley Ramirez, April 29, 2017, vs. CHC
Distance: 469 feet
Before this, Ramirez was tied with David Ortiz for the longest Red Sox homer, at 468 feet. But here, facing former Boston hurler John Lackey at Fenway Park, he took that honor all for himself. Ramirez drilled a center-cut two-seamer way over the Green Monster for a monstrous solo shot.

Yankees: Aaron Judge, June 11, 2017, vs. BAL
Distance: 495 feet (Watch it)
Judge became a sensation in 2017 because of feats like this one. The AL Rookie of the Year cleared the left-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium with a 118.6 mph, 495-foot homer. It was the longest homer of 2017 and tied Judge for the second-longest big fly in Statcast™ history.

AL Central

Indians: Mike Napoli, Sept. 9, 2016 vs. MIN
Distance: 463 feet
The Party at Napoli's reached the highest deck at Target Field on this September night, as this blast helped the first baseman reach a career-high 93 RBIs on the season. Napoli had also hit a 464-foot ball in foul territory the night before at Progressive Field.

"That's good for bragging rights," Napoli's teammate, Rajai Davis, told "That's an awesome, great feeling. I don't think I've ever hit the ball that far in batting practice. He's doing it in games. That's awesome. We can all admire that."

Royals: Brandon Moss, July 1, 2017, vs. MIN
Distance: 477 feet
Moss left his mark during his lone season in Kansas City, golfing this pitch to help spur a four-run comeback for the home side against the rival Twins. Moss would retire the following spring, but his power clearly remained in his bat until the end.

Tigers: J.D. Martinez, July 21, 2015, vs. SEA
Distance: 467 feet
Not to be outdone by Nelson Cruz's 455-foot shot in the top half of the third inning, Martinez one-upped Seattle's slugger in the bottom half with this impressive blast to straightaway center at cavernous Comerica Park. The dinger impressed just about everyone in the ballpark, except perhaps the slugger who hit it.

"It all means the same to me," Martinez told about his big fly. "I don't care. People get caught up on [distance]. To me, I really pay no mind. I just hit it, and I just hope it gets out."

Twins: Kennys Vargas, June 20, 2017, vs. CWS
Distance: 483 feet
There really wasn't any doubt about this homer as soon as Vargas' bat met this pitch from White Sox starter Derek Holland with a scorching 114.1-mph exit velocity. Vargas' shot climbed high above the bullpen in left-center at Target Field for one of four 450-plus foot homers the first baseman hit in less than 800 at-bats in a Twins uniform.

White Sox: Avisail Garcia, April 3, 2018, vs. TOR
Distance: 481 feet
Garcia was coming off a terrific 2017 campaign in which he finished second in the AL batting race with a .330 average, but he showed he could be much more than a slap hitter with this prodigious blast at Rogers Centre. Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ's slider caught too much of the plate, and Garcia punished it with a blistering 116.7-mph exit velocity.

"It was a pretty impressive blast, just from standing in the dugout and watching it," White Sox manager Rick Renteria told "Anybody who is a fan of baseball must have been impressed by that shot."

AL West

Angels: Mike Trout, July 8, 2015, vs. COL
Distance: 477 feet
Trout's second homer of the night travelled deep to straightaway center field, landing halfway up the bleachers at Coors Field. Better yet, Trout's solo blast tied the ballgame and led to an eventual 3-2 win for the Angels.

Astros: George Springer, May 31, 2017, vs. MIN
Distance: 473 feet
Springer's blast capped a two-homer day against the Twins, part of a massive series for the eventual World Series champions in which they set a franchise record for runs scored in a three-game series.

"That's all I've got," Springer said of the homer. "That's about all I can hit it."

Athletics: Matt Olson, Sept. 15, 2017, vs. PHI
Distance: 483 feet
Olson's sky-high blast at Citizens Bank Park came at the peak of an incredibly powerful rookie season in which he crushed 24 homers in just 189 at-bats for Oakland. Phillies starter Mark Leiter Jr. knew he was in trouble as soon as Olson connected; all there was left to do was wait and see where the slugger's blast would eventually land.

Mariners: Nelson Cruz, Sept. 24, 2016, vs. MIN
Distance: 493 feet
Few players in the game can crush a baseball like Cruz, and the Boomstick found the third deck at Target Field with this neck-craning blast. Cruz's shot remains among the longest homer hit outside the thin air of Coors Field, and it came one night after he had launched a different 454-foot homer for Seattle.

Rangers: Nomar Mazara, May 25, 2016, vs. LAA
Distance: 491 feet
The rookie Mazara raised his profile substantially with this towering drive to the upper deck at Globe Life Park, turning on and punishing an offspeed pitch from Angels starter Hector Santiago.

"That was loud," said Rangers catcher Bobby Wilson of Mazara's dinger. "You need earplugs for that one."

National League East

Braves: Freddie Freeman, June 13, 2015, vs. NYM
Distance: 464 feet
Atlanta's most consistent slugger got a hold of this first-inning fastball from Mets ace Jacob deGrom, pulling it high and deep onto the right-center-field bridge at Citi Field.

Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton, Aug. 6, 2016, vs. COL
Distance: 504 feet
This is it -- the longest home run since Statcast™ started tracking in 2015, and the only one projected at more than 500 feet. The 504-foot distance may have been aided by the thin air at Coors Field, but Stanton has shown plenty of times that he doesn't need any help to clear the fence.

Mets: Yoenis Cespedes, April 24, 2018 vs. STL
Distance: 463 feet
Cespedes was off to a tough start to the 2018 season, batting .195 with an MLB-most 37 strikeouts entering this Tuesday night matchup in St. Louis. But with a pair of runners on in the fifth, New York's big slugger proved his power was still very much intact. Cespedes tied up the Cardinals with this moonshot that landed next to the "Big Mac Land" seating section in left field, surpassing Justin Ruggiano's 461-foot homer from Aug. 23, 2016, which also came at Busch Stadium.

Nationals: Michael A. Taylor, Aug. 20, 2015, vs. COL
Distance: 493 feet
Rockies starter Yohan Flande was cruising against the Nationals until Taylor gave his club a humongous game-tying lift on this blast to left-center. Taylor's dinger may have received an assist from the friendly Coors Field environment, but his 110.1-mph exit velocity was no joke. Taylor's ideal 26-degree launch angle also helped this ball go a long way.

Phillies: Maikel Franco, July 10, 2016, vs. COL
Distance: 471 feet
Rockies reliever Jason Motte attempted to go up and in on Franco with a fastball, but the Phillies third baseman was ready for the challenge. Franco turned quickly on the pitch, pulling it into the high altitude at Coors Field for a long line-drive homer.

NL Central

Brewers: Domingo Santana, July 26, 2017, vs. WSH
Distance: 476 feet
Nationals Park has housed plenty of its own sluggers, from Bryce Harper to Anthony Rendon to Ryan Zimmerman. But it was the visiting Santana who etched his name atop the ballpark's list of longest home runs on this summer evening. Santana turned on an inside fastball from Gio Gonzalez and crushed it over the visitors' bullpen, high into the left-field concourse.

Cardinals: Marcell Ozuna, April 3, 2018, vs. MIL
Distance: 479 feet
Ozuna's first Cardinals home run also established him atop his new team's home run distance leaderboard. Facing Brewers starter Chase Anderson, Ozuna connected with a 117.2-mph exit velocity and sent Anderson's offering deep to left-center -- also setting a new Statcast™ mark for the longest homer at Miller Park.

Cubs: Kris Bryant, Sept. 6, 2015, vs. ARI
Distance: 495 feet
Wrigley Field can become a launching pad when the wind blows out toward the bleachers, but even as a rookie, Bryant proved he didn't need much help launching prolific blasts. This one bounced off the new scoreboard in left field -- fittingly right next to Bryant's own picture -- to further build Bryant's prestige with the North Siders.

Pirates: Pedro Alvarez, Oct. 4, 2015, vs. CIN
Distance: 479 feet
Pittsburgh's hulking slugger decided the right-field seats at PNC Park weren't enough on the final day of the 2015 regular season, instead clearing the bleachers completely and depositing this ball into the Allegheny River. Alvarez simply demolished the pitch, connecting with a 115.4-mph exit velocity and uppercutting with an ideal 29-degree launch angle.

Reds: Eugenio Suarez, June 2, 2016, vs. COL
Distance: 465 feet
Listed at just 5-foot-11 and 213 pounds, Suarez struck a blow for undersized infielders with this massive shot to left-center at Coors Field. This was actually Suarez's second homer of the game, capping an impressive evening for the third baseman.

NL West

D-backs: Jake Lamb, April 29, 2017, vs. COL
Distance: 481 feet
In the days before the humidor, balls flew out of Chase Field. What's surprising about Lamb's blast isn't where it was hit, but the opposing pitcher he victimized. The Rockies' Tyler Anderson is a left-hander, and southpaws overall had been extremely effective against Lamb. But in this at-bat, the platoon disadvantage didn't bother Lamb at all.

Dodgers: Joc Pederson, June 2, 2015, at COL
Distance: 477 feet
Considering the Rockies are in their division, it's no surprise that the Dodgers hit their longest homer at Coors Field: a majestic blast by Pederson way up into the center-field bleachers. It came in a series in which Pederson crushed four home runs -- one in each game.

Giants: Brandon Belt, May 22, 2015, at COL
Distance: 475 feet
Another NL West club, another entry from the friendly environment of Coors Field. Belt jumped on a hanging changeup and launched it far into the third deck in right field. This type of blast has been a rarity for the Giants, who hit the second-fewest homers of 420-plus feet (74) from 2015-17, ahead of only the Braves.

Padres: Franchy Cordero, April 20, 2018 at ARI
Distance: 489 feet
Franchy absolutely crushed this one. The D-backs' Matt Koch grooved Cordero a fastball, and Cordero hammered it 116.3 mph all the way up the scoreboard in dead center at Chase Field, instantly establishing a new longest home run of the 2018 season and a Padres Statcast™ record. He obliterated the team's previous best of 465 feet, which had been set by Melvin Upton Jr. in June of 2016. Cordero's blast is also the longest hit at Chase Field since Statcast™'s introduction in 2015, and the 10th-longest hit by anyone in baseball since 2015.

Rockies: Mark Reynolds, July 21, 2016, vs. ATL
Distance: 484 feet
Yes, the Rockies' longest home run came at home. Reynolds, the powerful veteran, got ahead in the count 2-0 against a rookie left-hander, Hunter Cervenka, who fired a fastball over the middle of the plate. Reynolds demolished it at 108.8 mph, sending a drive most of the way up the bleachers beyond the left-center-field wall.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Creating Bat Speed and Power with GRF (Ground Reaction Force)

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Rich Lovell discusses how to create more bat speed using the principles of ground reaction force.

Click Here for Online Hitting Lessons, Video Analysis, Hitting Camps and lessons before 4p.m. through my Epstein Online Academy Page:

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Baseball Base Running Drills: The Lead Off Drill

Make your first step count by getting a great lead off the base. Give yourself a quality start by practicing this base-stealing drill.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Using the Lower Body to Create Bat Speed and Power in Your Swing

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Rich Lovell discusses in a more detail how the lower body plays a role in bat speed and power.

Click Here for Online Hitting Lessons, Video Analysis, Hitting Camps and lessons before 4p.m. through my Epstein Online Academy Page:

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Baseball Hitting Drills: Indoor Soft Toss

You don’t need a field to knock it out of the park. Take your hitting drills indoors this baseball season with some tips on how to add soft toss to your training routine.

For players looking for hitting drills that can help them build a consistent, high-performing swing, soft toss drills can answer the call. Each athlete’s swing can be broken down for a detailed look at potential improvements and growth. Soft toss doesn’t take up much space and can be easily added to any indoor training routine.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Softball Swing vs Baseball Swing - Are They Different, or the Same?

Rich Lovell discusses the similarities between a softball swing versus a baseball swing. As Mike Epstein has said in the past, video never lies.

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

These are the Best HOF Classes in History

The Baseball Writers' Association of America can be a stingy bunch. Though we've seen a major upswing in BBWAA-elected Hall of Famers in recent years, classes like the four-member group (Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman) officially getting enshrined in Cooperstown this weekend (Jack Morris and Alan Trammell will also be inducted after their selection on the non-BBWAA Modern Era ballot) are rare.

Just five years ago, there was much public bemoaning the fact that the BBWAA had a ballot loaded with what many would consider to be quality candidates and came up with … nobody. Indeed, that has happened a few times in this voting body's long history, and it's a bummer to those of us who like our Hall of Fame to have, well, Hall of Famers.

But there are years that help make up for lost time. Let's look back and see which BBWAA-inducted Hall classes had the most star power.

There are a number of ways to evaluate this, but I opted to use the Hall of Fame Career Standards monitor available at Baseball Reference. Basically, a player who scores 50 on the test is considered your "average, run-of-the-mill" Hall of Famer, with 100 as the max (Babe Ruth, by virtue of acquiring both batting and pitching stats of note, breaks this scale with a grand total of 113).

If you add up the total Hall of Fame Career Standards for all players voted in by the BBWAA* in a given year, these were the heftiest Hall hauls.

*This list is strictly limited to the BBWAA entries, not players or managers or executives voted in by committee.

1. 1936: Babe Ruth (113), Christy Mathewson (84), Walter Johnson (82), Ty Cobb (75) and Honus Wagner (75) 429 points

Well, of course the inaugural class would have the most meat on the bone. But this election was actually kind of a mess. There was not an official ballot to work with, just a list of 40 suggested names. Voters had the option of writing in candidates, including -- bizarrely -- active players. Furthermore, there was a simultaneous Veterans Committee vote taking place as a means of recognizing players from the 19th century, but there was nothing stopping a BBWAA member from using one of his 10 slots for such a player.


In the end, these five legends got in via the BBWAA vote, but an additional 35 players who would eventually be inducted into the Hall fell short of the 75-percent mark. There were also seven players who received votes in this election but never got in, including "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and Hal Chase, who had been banned from baseball for consorting with gamblers.

2. 1947: Lefty Grove (62), Frankie Frisch (60), Mickey Cochrane (54) and Carl Hubbell (51) 227 points

This was the deluge after a drought. No elections were held in 1940, '41, '43 and '44, and no players had reached the 75-percent mark in '45 and '46 and only one guy -- Rogers Hornsby -- gained entry in '42. Something had to give.

The problem wasn't a lack of candidates but a wealth of them, with no clear consensus on what, exactly, a true Hall of Fame career was. Until 1946, BBWAA members could vote for literally any player -- living or dead, active or retired -- from 1900 on, and the only change in '46 was that a player must have been retired one year to receive votes.

Not only did this chaos create a backlog of deserving candidates, but it almost cost the BBWAA the vote altogether. In 1946, the Hall of Fame Committee voted in 11 popular players from the early 1900s (including, regrettably, Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance, only because they happened to be lionized in a poem), and there was some thought to stripping the BBWAA of its privilege as the Hall's gatekeeper.

That ultimately didn't happen. But in 1947, the Committee did create a rule that a player may not be on the ballot after 25 years from his retirement, and it also instituted the rule that a person must be in the BBWAA for 10 years before becoming eligible to vote. This reduced the number of ballots cast by a whopping 39 percent and created greater clarity in '47, when only 39 players received votes and these four got in.

3. 2015: Randy Johnson (65), Pedro Martinez (60), Craig Biggio (57) and John Smoltz (44) 226 points

This recent group marked just the third time -- and the first in 60 years -- that a four-man class was inducted. Combined with the three-man class in 2014, this was a welcome change of pace from that aforementioned emptiness of '13.

This 2015 vote was the first in which BBWAA members were required to complete a registration form and sign a code of conduct before receiving their ballots, and their names (though not their individual votes) were made public at the time of the election announcement.

Maybe that helped create greater accountability, but the bottom line is that the stars who helped rescue the sport after the 1994-95 labor stoppage -- including Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz, who all got in on their first ballot -- were rightly recognized.

4. 1937: Cy Young (82), Tris Speaker (73) and Nap Lajoie (66) 221 points

Looking to address some flaws from the 1936 process, the Veterans Committee election was scrapped in favor of a smaller Centennial Commission entrusted with choosing inductees from the 19th century. And though active players weren't ruled ineligible, voters were encouraged to lean toward retired candidates. With the procedure tweaked and five guys having graduated from the '36 ballot, the end result was that Lajoie (64.6 percent in '36), Speaker (58.8) and Young (49.1) moved up the ranks and past the 75-percent mark.

In 1936, Young, comically, ended up fourth on the Veterans Committee vote and eighth in the BBWAA vote. Nobody knew to which era he ought to be assigned. This time, that issue was straightened out, and the guy with 511 career wins got in. Viva democracy.

5. 2018: Jones (70), Guerrero (59), Thome (57) and Hoffman (19) 205 points

Obviously, a four-man class has an inherent advantage toward getting on this list, but the metric we're utilizing doesn't ascribe much value to relievers (even slam-dunk Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, who will be on the ballot next year, gets just 30 points). So Hoffman doesn't add a great deal to this tally. Edgar Martinez (50 points) missed induction by just 20 votes this year, so this could have been a truly monster class. But as it stands, it's still pretty good. In fact, with Morris and Trammell also involved, this marks just the second time since the aforementioned inaugural class of 1936 that six living players are going in at the same time (the other year was 1955, which we'll get to in a minute).

The BBWAA went from electing nobody in 2013 to electing 16 guys over the last five years.

6. 2014: Greg Maddux (70), Frank Thomas (60) and Tom Glavine (52) 182 points

Were we able to assign bonus points here, this class would get them because of the inclusion of Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre from the Expansion Era Committee vote. The 2014 class was a marked improvement from the previous year, when the only inductees were three dudes who died in the 1930s (player Deacon White, umpire Hank O'Day and executive Jacob Ruppert).

Even without the bonus points, the 2014 class stands as a strong one. All three guys deservedly got in on their first try, and Biggio fell just two votes shy of joining them.

7. 1955: Joe DiMaggio (58), Gabby Hartnett (48), Dazzy Vance (35) and Ted Lyons (30) 171 points

As you can see from the Vance and Lyons point totals, quantity is what got this class on this list. Vance had an interesting case, not becoming a regular in a rotation until he was 31, winning only 197 games and pitching mostly for bad teams. He spent 16 years on the ballot (or list of suggested players, as it were) and received just 7.3 percent of the vote a decade before his eventual induction. Lyons, who only pitched on Sundays, walked more batters than he struck out and had a 3.67 ERA. He isn't exactly the best the Hall has to offer. But he was another slow-burner, climbing from 1.6 percent in 1945 all the way to 86.5 percent in his induction year.

The main takeaway from 1955 is that there was still a serious backlog going on. DiMaggio finally got in on his third appearance on the ballot, and Hank Greenberg finished 32 votes shy on his eighth ballot. Greenberg was one of 31 eventual Hall of Famers who got votes in this election but didn't get in. The other two inductees this year, via the Veterans Committee, were "Home Run" Frank Baker and Ray Schalk.

For what it's worth, this was the second year in which the five-year waiting period was in place for retired players.

8. 1999: George Brett (61), Nolan Ryan (55) and Robin Yount (52) 168 points

This was one of the more special modern-day classes. Brett, Ryan and Yount were all newly eligible -- the first time the BBWAA inducted more than two first-ballot entries since the inaugural class in 1936. Carlton Fisk came reasonably close to making it four first-timers, as he appeared on 66.4 percent of ballots. He'd wind up getting in the following year.

One factor that worked in the first-timers' favor was the relatively small ballot, on which only 28 players appeared. The Hall had long since begun dropping players who received less than 5 percent of ballots cast and cut off players more than 20 years from retirement.

9. and 10. 1939: Eddie Collins (72), Willie Keeler (49) and George Sisler (44); 1991: Gaylord Perry (57), Rod Carew (55) and Fergie Jenkins (53) 165 points (tie)

This might have ranked higher on the list since 1939 was also the year Lou Gehrig (72 points) was inducted, but that was in a special election in December (months after the formal induction of the three players listed above) because of his illness. Gehrig never had a formal induction ceremony.

As far as the "proper" 1939 class was concerned, it combined with the nine BBWAA-elected players from 1936-38 and the various Veterans Committee selections to make for a 25-person Hall when the building opened in the summer of '39 (and leading to that iconic image of the 11 living inductees).

The 1939 class could have been even more loaded, but many voters put their focus on the '00s and '10s, evidently fearing those decades were underrepresented. Players who had been retired more than 20 years received 60 percent of the votes. This explains how an obvious Hall of Famer like Rogers Hornsby (64.2 percent in '39) was unable to get in.

By 1991, it was much more straightforward. Carew appeared on 90.5 percent of ballots as a first-timer, while Perry and Jenkins both got in on their third try. Jim Bunning missed out on his final ballot try but would later get in via the Veterans Committee.

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