MLB Home Run Leaders By Year—1970s
The 1970s was a great decade for home run hitters. In the early part of the decade, you had guys like Johnny Bench, Willie Stargell and Mike Schmidt leading the way, and then later on the likes of George Foster and Jim Rice. But in looking at this list, perhaps the most remarkable thing of all is that each leader played for a team in the eastern half of the U.S. Chicago (Dave Kingman in 1979) was the most Western city to host a home run champ in the decade. What's more, Jim Rice of Boston was the only American Leaguer to led the majors, which he did in 1978. Anyway, here is that complete list:
1979-Dave Kingman, Chicago Cubs (48)
Dave Kingman, known at various times in his career as "Sky King" or "Kong," had a penchant for hitting the long ball. But it wasn't until 1979 with the Cubs, and the wind blowing out at Wrigley, that he led the majors in home runs, with a career best 48. That season, Kingman hit .288 (also a career high) with 115 RBI, 19 doubles, 5 triples, 97 runs, and a slugging percentage of .613. Still, Kingman only finished 11th in the NL MVP voting.
1978-Jim Rice, Boston Red Sox (46)
Jim Rice was a very consistent offensive threat in his 16 seasons in the bigs, all with the Boston Red Sox. In 1978, Rice took home the AL MVP, and led the majors in home runs with 46. He also batted .315 with 139 RBI, 213 hits, 121 runs, 25 doubles, 15 triples, a .370 on base average and .600 slugging percentage.
1977-George Foster, Cincinnati Reds (52)
George Foster had a great career, mostly with the Big Red Machine of the ‘70's. In 1977, Foster had a career year, belting a major league best 52 home runs. He also hit .320 with 149 runs batted in, 124 runs, 31 doubles, a .382 on-base average and .631 slugging percentage. Not surprisingly, Foster also won the NL MVP Award that season.
1976-Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies (38)
Mike Schmidt was a very consistent power hitter, and in fact the Phillies' third baseman hit exactly 38 home runs in three straight seasons, 1975-1977. In 1976, Schmidt's 38 homers were enough to lead the majors, and it was the third year in a row that he held that honor. That season, Schmidt also batted .262 with 107 RBI, 112 runs, 31 doubles, 14 stolen bases, 100 walks, a .376 on base average and .524 slugging percentage.
1975-Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies (38)
In 1975, Mike Schmidt also led the majors with 38 home runs. He also batted .249 with 101 walks, 93 runs, 34 doubles, 29 stolen bases, a .367 on base average with a .523 slugging percentage.
1974-Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies (36)
1974 was the first season that Mike Schmidt started and played a full 162 games. He took advantage of that by leading the majors in home runs for the first of three straight seasons, with 36. Schmidt hit .282 that season with 116 runs batted in, 108 runs, 28 doubles, 7 triples, 23 stolen bases, 106 walks, a .395 on-base average and .546 slugging percentage.
1973-Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh Pirates (44)
Willie Stargell was affectionately known as "Pops" later in his career by teammates, but at the plate this was a hitter that pitchers were terrified of. He was one of those left-handed sluggers, along with Willie McCovey, that dominated the National League. In 1973, Stargell led the majors with 44 home runs, and hit .299 with 119 RBI, 106 runs, 43 doubles (career high), a .392 on base average and .646 slugging percentage.
1972-Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds (40)
Johnny Bench is one of the greatest offensive catchers of all-time, and he was also a huge part of the Big Red Machine team in the ‘70's that won a few World Series titles. In 1972, Bench won the NL MVP Award, partially because he led the majors with 40 home runs. Bench also batted .270 with 125 runs batted in, 22 doubles, 100 walks, a .379 on base average and .541 slugging percentage.
1971-Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh Pirates (48)
Willie Stargell had a career year in 1971, belting a major league best 48 home runs with 125 runs batted in. That season, Stargell batted .295 with 104 runs, 26 doubles, a .398 on base average and .628 slugging percentage. Amazingly, Stargell did not win the NL MVP in 1971 (Joe Torre) or 1973 (Pete Rose), but he did in 1979.
1970-Johnny Bench, Cincinnati Reds (45)
1970 was a career year for Johnny Bench, as he helped the Reds reach the World Series, and took home the NL MVP Award. Bench led the majors in home runs with 45 (career best) and also had a career high 148 RBI, with 97 runs, 35 doubles, a .345 on base average and .587 slugging percentage.