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The case against the DH

By JOHN ROMANO

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 10, 2001


Forget about that Bonds character; the real home run threat in 2001 is Rockies pitcher Mike Hampton. The Crystal River native is averaging a home run every nine at-bats after blasting two last week to boost his season total to four.

Hampton, alas, is an anomaly in this day of designated hitters and starting pitchers who get pulled after five innings. Although Hampton has a shot at the National League record of seven home runs in a season for a pitcher (held by Don Drysdale and Don Newcombe), he is far off the career pace set by another generation of pitchers. Even though Hampton has long been considered one of the league's better-hitting pitchers, he had never homered before this season. Wes Ferrell is the all-time leader in home runs for pitchers with 38 (although he is officially credited with 37 because one home run was as a pinch-hitter) in a career and nine in a season. Here are the top mound sluggers through history:

(Pitcher, years, at-bats, home runs)

Wes Ferrell,1927-41,1,176,38

Warren Spahn,1942-65, 1,872,35

Earl Wilson,1959-70,740,35

Don Drysdale, 1956-69,1,169,29

Bob Gibson,1959-75,1,328,24

Milt Pappas,1957-73, 1,073,20

-- Compiled by John Romano.

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