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The List: RBI < (HR x 2)

Josh Willingham is on the verge of history. At the mathematical midpoint of the Washington Nationals' season, the outfielder has amassed 10 home runs but only 21 RBI. In other words, he is within another solo homer of the magical formula that is the subject of this week's The List.

This, folks, is not easy to do. To pull it off, you need to hit almost exclusively solo home runs (all 10 of Willingham's are of the solo variety), and you need to perform poorly with runners in scoring position (Willingham: .180/.293/.220). (Alternately, you can accomplish it by drawing a gazillion walks, but this method is not recommended for mere mortals.)

By our research, there are only six examples in history (post-1900) of players who hit more than 20 home runs in a season while driving in only twice that many runs, or fewer. Here are the five players who have done it, in order from fewest to most home runs:

5. Chris Hoiles, Orioles (1992): 20 HRs, 40 RBI. Number of solo HRs: 17. BA/OBP/SLG with RISP: .205/.337/.370.

4. Kevin Maas, Yankees (1991): 21 HRs, 41 RBI. Number of solo HRs: 16. BA/OBP/SLG with RISP: .180/.318/.303.

3. Chris Duncan, Cardinals (2006): 22 HRs, 43 RBI. Number of solo HRs: 14. BA/OBP/SLG with RISP: .183/.320/.250

2. Rob Deer, Tigers (1992): 32 HRs, 64 RBI. Number of solo HRs: 22. BA/OBP/SLG with RISP: .212/.336/.424.

1. Barry Bonds, Giants (2003): 45 HRs, 90 RBI. Number of solo HRs: 35. BA/OBP/SLG with RISP: .338/.654/.558. And Bonds, once again (2001): 73 HRs, 137 RBI. Number of solo HRs: 46. BA/OBP/SLG with RISP: .382/.650/.944.

By Dave Sheinin  |  July 8, 2009; 10:52 AM ET
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I always thought Dewey Evans hit like that in the late 70s, but the closest he came was 1978 24 & 63. 1977 he went 14 & 36, while 1979 he was 21 & 58. In 1983, he had a flashback - 22 & 58. 3 Golden gloves and 1 All star appearance in those years.

These high homer, low RBI years probably colored the view of his career offense until well after he retired. I've seen the argument that he was a better offensive player than Jim Rice. Rice had the good fortune of having a great first few years, which influenced his reputation. With the lack of emphasis on defense and the lack of metrics until lately, that's why, of the two guys with equivalent hitting careers and decidedly different defensive abilities, it is Rice and not Evans going into the HOF.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | July 8, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Those 4 years - 81 and 215.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | July 8, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Alfonso Soriano came pretty damn close in 2006 (46 HR, 95 RBI) and is on a good pace so far this year (14 HR, 32 RBI). Helps to be a leadoff hitter, or at least to be able to force your manager to bat you leadoff even when you really aren't one.

Posted by: section417 | July 8, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

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