It is widely known that the Pirates set a team record with 45 home runs in the month of August. It was a fun time to watch Pirate baseball, as the team seemingly scored at will. However, even with that eruption of power, the Bucs are currently tied for 20th in Major League Baseball with 135 home runs. Overall, it does not seem like a historically significant season. But take a look at the team’s individual leaders in home runs:
- Adam LaRoche – 21
- Jason Bay – 20
- Xavier Nady – 17
- Jose Bautista – 14
- Nate McLouth – 12
- Freddy Sanchez – 11
- Ronny Paulino – 10
- Jack Wilson – 9
- Ryan Doumit – 9
What is noteworthy about these numbers? This is only the third team in the history of the franchise that has boasted seven players with ten or more home runs. If Wilson can hit one more in the final few weeks, it will be the first to have eight. The other two occasions in which seven players achieved the feat were in 1973 (Willie Stargell-44, Richie Hebner-25, Al Oliver-20, Bob Robertson-14, Manny Sanguillen-12, Rennie Stennett-10, Richie Zisk-10) and 1964 (Willie Stargell-21, Jerry Lynch-16, Roberto Clemente-12, Donn Clendenon-12, Bob Bailey-11, Bill Mazeroski-10, Jim Pagliaroni-10).
Keep in mind that these numbers do not indicate that the Pirates are developing into a powerful lineup. The fact that this has occurred only three times in the team’s history simply highlights the Pirates’ consistently feeble offense during Major League Baseball’s power explosion over the past 20 years. In fact, having seven or more players reach double digits in home runs is fairly common among the rest of the league. Taking a quick look around the league, I counted ten other teams that have accomplished the feat in 2007 alone. The New York Yankees have achieved the mark every year since 1996.
So let us enjoy watching this edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates make franchise history. However, as we are conditioned to do as Pirate fans, we must keep the feat in perspective. We are still taking baby steps when compared with the rest of the league.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference Play Index