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World Series Bash Brothers

Throughout its long history, Baseball has given us plenty of dangerous duos, and this October is no exception with Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera striking fear into the heart of Giants fans. Let's take a look at some of the fiercest offensive combinations to terrorize World Series pitchers.


It's fairly difficult to imagine what it's like being a pitcher on the mound with Game 2 of the World Series on the line, and seeing Miguel Cabrera slowly walking toward the plate from the on-deck circle. I can only assume that, from a pitcher's perspective, Cabrera appears to walk in slow motion with glowing red irises, growling and gnashing his demon's teeth, while the sights and sounds of Hell begin emerging from the surrounding shadows. In fact, from that particular vantage point, it may be no coincidence at all that Cabrera's OPS is at .999 this year, a number which is really just an especially screwed-up "666", if you think about it.

But, even after Cabrera, your date with the devil isn't quite over. If somehow by the grace of god you've miraculously survived the at-bat, Prince Fielder then emerges from the flames.

Facing this sort of 1-2 punch in the middle of the Tigers line-up on Baseball's biggest stage is genuinely the stuff of nightmares. Perhaps this sort of back-to-back threat in a World Series brings back recent memories of Ortiz/Manny in 2007, or Bonds/Kent in '02, or even Belle/Thome back in '95. Or perhaps you believe the Cabrera/Fielder assault is much more intimidating than that?

In order to find the meanest, most dangerous, most intimidating pair of offensive threats to terrorize an opposing pitching staff in the World Series, I set up a query using a combination of Baseball-Reference csv data and the Lahman database. I asked for a list of player-pairs from the same World Series-bound team that had amassed at least 30 Batting Runs each during the regular season. (I also limited the returns to the live-ball era, and one entry per team-season, as several clubs had more than two players with 30+ batting runs.)


# Team Year NAME_1 Bat Runs NAME_2 Bat Runs Combined Bat Runs
1 New York Yankees 1927 Lou Gehrig 102.7 Babe Ruth 101.6 204.3
2 New York Yankees 1928 Babe Ruth 85 Lou Gehrig 77.4 162.4
3 San Francisco Giants 2002 Barry Bonds 108.8 Jeff Kent 45.7 154.5
4 New York Yankees 1932 Babe Ruth 75.5 Lou Gehrig 74.9 150.4
5 New York Yankees 1926 Babe Ruth 97.5 Lou Gehrig 44.3 141.8
6 New York Yankees 1937 Lou Gehrig 73.4 Joe DiMaggio 60.8 134.2
7 New York Yankees 1961 Mickey Mantle 80 Roger Maris 54.1 134.1
8 New York Yankees 1936 Lou Gehrig 88.4 Bill Dickey 39.1 127.5
9 Chicago Cubs 1929 Rogers Hornsby 76.5 Hack Wilson 49.1 125.6
10 St. Louis Cardinals 2004 Albert Pujols 69.3 Jim Edmonds 52.1 121.4
11 New York Yankees 1956 Mickey Mantle 84.5 Bill Skowron 31.7 116.2
12 San Francisco Giants 1989 Kevin Mitchell 60.5 Will Clark 55.3 115.8
13 New York Yankees 1941 Joe DiMaggio 66.1 Charlie Keller 45.8 111.9
14 Toronto Blue Jays 1993 John Olerud 64.3 Paul Molitor 42.5 106.8
15 Baltimore Orioles 1966 Frank Robinson 71 Boog Powell 32.9 103.9
16 New York Yankees 1999 Derek Jeter 58.1 Bernie Williams 44.6 102.7
17 Detroit Tigers 1940 Hank Greenberg 61.7 Rudy York 40 101.7
18 Oakland Athletics 1990 Rickey Henderson 61.5 Jose Canseco 37.3 98.8
19 Cleveland Indians 1995 Albert Belle 59.2 Jim Thome 39.5 98.7
20 Detroit Tigers 1935 Hank Greenberg 59.7 Charlie Gehringer 38.6 98.3
21 New York Yankees 1939 Joe DiMaggio 59.1 George Selkirk 37.5 96.6
22 Detroit Tigers 1934 Charlie Gehringer 50.3 Hank Greenberg 45.5 95.8
23 Milwaukee Brewers 1982 Robin Yount 58.7 Cecil Cooper 36.2 94.9
24 Detroit Tigers 2012 Miguel Cabrera 52 Prince Fielder 42 94
25 Cleveland Indians 1948 Lou Boudreau 57.7 Ken Keltner 36.2 93.9
26 St. Louis Cardinals 2004 Jim Edmonds 52.1 Scott Rolen 40.2 92.3
27 Cincinnati Reds 1976 Joe Morgan 57.1 Pete Rose 34.4 91.5
28 St. Louis Cardinals 1944 Stan Musial 57.3 Johnny Hopp 34.1 91.4
29 Oakland Athletics 1988 Jose Canseco 56.8 Dave Henderson 32.7 89.5
30 Cleveland Indians 1997 Jim Thome 47 Manny Ramirez 42 89

Obviously we're not dealing with a Gehrig/Ruth combo here in 2012, so if you're looking for a Cabrera/Fielder comp you may want to scroll down the list some. Both Gehrig and Ruth compiled 100 batting runs a piece in 1927, leading an offense that many believe was the greatest of all-time. Imagine both Fielder and Cabrera merged into one, and you have Babe Ruth. Multiply that by two and you have the Yankees #3 and #4 hitters in 1927.

Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent make the list, and at #3 overall to boot, but the bashing from this duet was clearly one-sided in nature. Not to diminish the talents of Jeff Kent at all, whose 45 Batting Runs put him on a par with what Fielder has done here in 2012, but Bonds' 108 is the highest individual total of all 60 of these player-seasons.

Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, for those with memories as poor as mine, did not make the cut as I expected, with Manny compiling a paltry 16 batting runs during the 2007 regular season.

Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds make the list on the merits of their 2004 season, with 69 and 52 runs respectively, but it's worth mentioning here that Scott Rolen also produced at least 40 Batting Runs in the same line-up. Somehow, this offensive powerhouse did not win the World Series. In fact they were swept 4-0, by the curse breaking Boston Red Sox, as Edmonds could only muster a pathetic .100 wOBA and Rolen an even worse .042 wOBA in those four crucial games.

So the presence of Cabrera and Fielder in the Tiger line-up doesn't necessarily spell certain doom for the San Francisco Giants pitching. As we are all aware, anything can happen in a sample that is limited to at most seven games. Such an abbreviated time-frame can even permit the complete neutralization of some of the more famous slugging duos in World Series history. This holds true even for the notorious "M&M brothers" from the legendary 1961 season, who went on to post the lowest offensive numbers of the group in that year's World Series:


# Team Year Name_1 PA wOBA NAME_2 PA wOBA Combined wOBA
30 New York Yankees 1961 Mickey Mantle 6 .151 Roger Maris 23 .249 .229
29 St. Louis Cardinals 2004 Albert Pujols 17 .368 Jim Edmonds 16 .100 .238
28 Cleveland Indians 1948 Lou Boudreau 24 .362 Ken Keltner 23 .146 .256
27 Oakland Athletics 1988 Jose Canseco 22 .195 Dave Henderson 22 .347 .271
26 St. Louis Cardinals 1944 Stan Musial 26 .408 Johnny Hopp 27 .175 .289
25 New York Yankees 1937 Joe DiMaggio 22 .306 Bill Dickey 21 .281 .294

Unlike Mantle and Maris, however, Ruth and Gehrig never really had a problem dealing with small sample sizes. In four separate World Series, the two for a combined wOBA of at least .480, including 3 consecutive seasons from 1926-1928. Their 1928 series in particular was just shy of obscene:


# Team Year Name_1 PA wOBA NAME_2 PA wOBA Combined wOBA
1 New York Yankees 1928 Babe Ruth 17 .865 Lou Gehrig 17 .887 .876
2 New York Yankees 1932 Babe Ruth 20 .528 Lou Gehrig 20 .715 .622
3 San Francisco Giants 2002 Barry Bonds 30 .722 Jeff Kent 31 .374 .545
4 Toronto Blue Jays 1993 John Olerud 22 .347 Paul Molitor 28 .651 .517
5 New York Yankees 1926 Babe Ruth 31 .595 Lou Gehrig 29 .418 .509
6 New York Yankees 1927 Lou Gehrig 18 .454 Babe Ruth 18 .512 .483

Cabrera and Fielder will likely face Giants' southpaw Madison Bumgarner tonight in Game 2, after a very pedestrian combined performance against Barry Zito in Game 1. Are you hoping for a a Mantle/Maris Series from these two Bash Brothers? Or a Ruth/Gehrig?

Batting Runs courtesy of Baseball-Reference, post-season data courtesy of the Lahman database, wOBA weights courtesy of Fangraphs.

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