The joy of baseball is that even when you’re not looking for them, you can stumble upon random statistical anomalies just about anywhere. While perusing the stats of former pinch hitter and utilityman Zach Walters, I noticed he hit 10 home runs and had just 17 RBI in 2014.
Walters’ career was largely inconsequential – he played for three teams from 2013 to 2016 and hit .176 in 170 career at-bats – but that feat was not. In fact, just eight players have ever hit at least 10 home runs and had fewer than 20 RBI in a season.
It is a relatively recent phenomenon – the Orioles’ Wayne Gross first achieved it in 1985, when he had 11 dingers and just 18 RBI, but it didn’t happen again until 2002, when catcher Todd Greene had 10 home runs and 19 RBI.
Since then, it has occurred once every few years, with catcher David Ross doing it in 2003 (10 HR, 19 RBI), first baseman Randy Ruiz doing it in 2009 (10 HR, 17 RBI), Walters doing it in 2014, catcher Curt Casali doing it in 2015 (10 HR, 18 RBI), outfielder Adam Duvall doing it in 2019 (10 HR, 19 RBI) and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion doing it in 2020 (10 HR, 19 RBI).
The feat is a popular one among high-strikeout, low-average, low-walk batsmen, with only Ruiz hitting better than .270 in the year he did it. He batted .313. Indeed, it is a feat for the little guy, as only a couple of the names could be considered stars (loosely or otherwise), while most of the others were flashes in the pan or career bench players.