The Art Behind A Great Baseball Offense

Many of the most successful offenses in baseball history revolved around several key tenets that nearly every team featured. From patient hitters able to slap singles all over the field and draw walks to mashers capable of hitting 30 or more home runs in a given year. Let’s take a look at what most of these stellar offenses had in common and what made them so dangerous to opposing pitchers.

Gap Power Is Just as Important
Everybody loves the long ball and everybody loves when a player can routinely hit 25-30 home runs in a given season. What is usually lost with potent offenses, however, is the ability to turn lined shots down the line or into the gaps into extra bases making it much easier to score a runner from 2nd or 3rd base than 1st base.

– 1930 St. Louis Cardinals: 373 Doubles (1st in NL) and 89 Triples (2nd in NL). 4 players hit at least 39 Doubles including 46 by Frankie Frisch and 41 by Taylor Douthit.
– 1936 Pittsburgh Pirates: 283 Doubles (2nd in NL) and 80 Triples (1st in NL). 6 players hit at least 23 Doubles with Paul Waner smacking 53. Gus Suhr chipped in with 33 Doubles and 12 Triples.
– 1962 San Francisco Giants: 235 Doubles (3rd in NL) and 32 Triples (9th in NL). 7 players hit at least 22 Doubles including 36 by Willie Mays and 30 by Felipe Alou.
– 1970 Baltimore Orioles: 213 Doubles (3rd in AL) and 25 Triples (8th in AL). Boog Powell, Davey Johnson, Brooks Robinson, Paul Blair, and Frank Robinson all had between 24 and 31 Doubles.
– 1976 Cincinnati Reds: 271 Doubles (1st in NL) and 63 Triples (1st in NL). Pete Rose and Tony Perez led the team with 42 and 32 Doubles. Cesar Geronimo hit 24 Doubles and 11 Triples.
– 1984 Detroit Tigers: 254 Doubles (7th in AL) and 46 Triples (3rd in AL). Alan Trammell and Chet Lemon led the club with 34 Doubles each. Kirk Gibson had 23 Doubles and 10 Triples.
– 1987 New York Mets: 287 Doubles (2nd in NL) and 34 Triples (6th in NL). 7 players hit at least 21 Doubles including Tim Teufel’s 29 in just 351 plate appearances. Lenny Dykstra led the team with 37 and Darryl Strawberry hit 32 Doubles.
– 1993 Toronto Blue Jays: 317 Doubles (2nd in AL) and 42 Triples (2nd in AL). John Olerud paced the team with 54 doubles. Devon White and Paul Molitor added 42 and 37 Doubles respectively.
– 1998 New York Yankees: 290 Doubles (11th in AL) and 31 Triples (7th in AL). Paul O’Neill had 40 doubles and Scott Brosius had 34. Tino Martinez added 33.
– 2001 Oakland Athletics: 334 Doubles (1st in AL) and 22 Triples (12th in AL). Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, Terrence Long, and Johnny Damon all hit at least 31 doubles alongside Jason Giambi’s 47.
– 2003 Boston Red Sox: 371 Doubles (1st in AL) and 40 Triples (2nd in AL). Trot Nixon chipped in with 24 doubles and 6 triples. Bill Mueller hit 45 and Todd Walker added 38 doubles.

Work the Counts, Draw Walks, and Get on Base
One of the more underutilized abilities of great hitting offenses is the ability to work counts and get on base with a walk (the equivalent of a single). The very best hitters challenge pitchers and force them into hitter’s counts (ideally 2-0 or 3-1 counts) where they are forced to throw a strike the hitter can hammer. The very best teams push this even further, grinding at-bats until they overwhelm the starter and manage to reach the bullpen as early as they can in a game.

– 1930 St. Louis Cardinals: 479 Walks (4th in NL)
– 1936 Pittsburgh Pirates: 517 Walks (1st in NL)
– 1962 San Francisco Giants: 523 Walks (5th in NL)
– 1970 Baltimore Orioles: 717 Walks (1st in AL)
– 1976 Cincinnati Reds: 681 Walks (1st in NL)
– 1984 Detroit Tigers: 602 Walks (2nd in AL)
– 1987 New York Mets: 592 Walks (3rd in NL)
– 1993 Toronto Blue Jays: 588 Walks (7th in AL) and 3.69 Pitches per Plate Appearance.
– 1998 New York Yankees: 653 Walks (1st in AL) and 3.81 Pitches per Plate Appearance.
– 2001 Oakland Athletics: 640 Walks (1st in AL) and 3.88 Pitches per Plate Appearance.
– 2003 Boston Red Sox: 620 Walks (2nd in AL) and 3.82 Pitches per Plate Appearance.

See the Ball, Mash the Ball
Heavy emphasis should be placed on ignoring pitches off the plate and driving the pitches that hitters can take as well as the pitches they know they can drive. If a hitter struggles with change ups, fouling them off until he can hammer a pitch more to his liking is the ideal scenario even if it means a lengthy 9 pitch at-bat.

– 1930 St. Louis Cardinals: .471 Slugging (3rd in NL) along with a BA of .314 (3rd in NL).
– 1936 Pittsburgh Pirates: .397 Slugging (1st in NL) along with a 1st place BA of .286.
– 1962 San Francisco Giants: .441 Slugging (1st in NL) along with a 1st place BA of .278.
– 1970 Baltimore Orioles: .401 Slugging (3rd in AL) along with a BA of .257 (3rd in AL).
– 1976 Cincinnati Reds: .424 Slugging (1st in NL) along with a 1st place BA of .280.
– 1984 Detroit Tigers: .432 Slugging (2nd in AL) along with a BA of .271 (4th in AL).
– 1987 New York Mets: .434 Slugging (1st in NL) along with a 1st place BA of .268.
– 1993 Toronto Blue Jays: .436 Slugging (1st in AL) along with a 1st place BA of .279.
– 1998 New York Yankees: .460 Slugging (4th in AL) along with a crazy .288 BA.
– 2001 Oakland Athletics: .439 Slugging (5th in AL) despite a .264 BA (9th in AL).
– 2003 Boston Red Sox: .491 Slugging (1st in AL) while hitting an insane .289 BA, nearly .300 as an entire team!

The Blueprint
It’s pretty obvious just from this brief list of teams that if you want a top of the line offense, you need power (especially extra base hits just beyond home runs) and an ability to work a count and get on base with a walk. While it helps to have a superstar hitter in the mold of a modern day Giancarlo Stanton or Mike Trout, sometimes the abilities of a lesser heralded teammate such as Christian Yelich (30 Doubles, 70 Walks) can make an offense much deeper and much more potent.

Written by David Hunter

David Hunter enjoys writing about wrestling, sports, music, and horror!

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