Ted Simmons is part of a special group of players who hit with a rare combination of power and consistent contact.
Simmons is one of 12 players who finished his big-league career with at least 240 home runs and fewer than 700 strikeouts, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
A catcher who spent most of his playing days with the Cardinals before going to the Brewers and Braves, Simmons is the last player to achieve the feat. He’s also the only switch-hitter among the 12.
Simmons will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sept. 8, 2021. He is one of nine Hall of Famers among the 12 elite hitters who showed that a slugger doesn’t have to whiff a lot to produce steady power.
In order of most home runs, here are the dandy dozen based on a review of statistics at baseball-reference.com:
_ Stan Musial, 475 home runs, 696 strikeouts: The most Musial struck out in a season was 46 times in 1962 when he was 41. He batted .330 that season with 19 home runs.
In 1948, when Musial batted .376, he had more home runs, a career-high 39, than strikeouts 34.
Musial struck out three times in a major-league game only once. It happened on July 28, 1963, against the Cubs’ Dick Ellsworth when Musial was 42 and in his final season. Boxscore
The pitcher who fanned Musial the most was fellow Hall of Famer Warren Spahn. Though Spahn struck out Musial 30 times, Musial batted .318 against him. The 17 home runs Musial hit versus Spahn are the most he had against any pitcher.
_ Joe DiMaggio, 361 home runs, 369 strikeouts: Remarkably, DiMaggio had more home runs than strikeouts in seven of his 13 seasons with the Yankees.
In 1941, DiMaggio had 30 home runs and 13 strikeouts. During his 56-game hitting streak that year, he whiffed five times.
Like Musial, DiMaggio struck out three times in a big-league game just once. It happened on June 19, 1942, versus the Indians’ Mel Harder. Boxscore
_ Johnny Mize, 359 home runs, 524 strikeouts: When Mize hit 51 home runs for the Giants in 1947, he struck out 42 times. It was one of three times he had more home runs than strikeouts in a season.
The 43 home runs Mize hit for the Cardinals in 1940 were the franchise record for a season until Mark McGwire hit 70 while taking steroids to enhance his performance in 1998. Mize struck out 49 times in 1940. McGwire fanned 155 times in 1998.
_ Yogi Berra, 358 home runs, 414 strikeouts: Though he was known for chasing balls out of the strike zone, Berra six times had more home runs than strikeouts in a season with the Yankees. Perhaps the most impressive was in 1950 when Berra had 28 home runs and 12 strikeouts. He hit .322 with 124 RBI that season.
While with the Mets, Berra struck out three times in a game against the Braves’ Tony Cloninger on May 9, 1965, three days before turning 40. He decided to quit immediately and never played in another game. Boxscore
_ Rogers Hornsby, 301 home runs, 679 strikeouts: In 1924, when he batted .424 and hit 25 home runs for the Cardinals, Hornsby struck out 32 times in 642 plate appearances.
_ Chuck Klein, 300 home runs, 521 strikeouts: When Klein achieved the Triple Crown with the Phillies in 1933, leading the National League in batting (.368), home runs (28) and RBI (120), he struck out 36 times in 667 plate appearances.
_ Ted Kluszewski, 279 home runs, 365 strikeouts: Wearing a sleeveless Reds jersey that enabled him to bare bulging biceps, Ted Kluszewski looked the part of a slugger, but he was no swing-and-miss hacker. Kluszewski only once struck out three times in a game, on June 17, 1950, versus the Phillies’ Robin Roberts. Boxscore
In 1954, when he led the National League in home runs (49) and RBI (141), Kluszewski fanned 35 times in 659 plate appearances. It was one of five times he had more home runs than strikeouts in a season.
_ Roy Campanella, 260 home runs, 501 strikeouts: The Dodgers’ catcher hit 20 or more home runs seven times but never had more than 61 strikeouts in a season.
_ Goose Goslin, 248 home runs, 585 strikeouts: In 1928, when Goslin was with the Senators, he led the American League in batting at .379, was third in slugging at .614 (trailing only Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig) and struck out 19 times.
_ Ted Simmons, 248 home runs, 694 strikeouts: As consistent as he was excellent, Simmons had the same number of strikeouts, 35, in each of three consecutive seasons (1974-76) with the Cardinals. In his biggest home run year, 1979, when he hit 26, Simmons fanned 34 times.
in the book “The Ted Simmons Story,” his teammate and friend, Joe Torre, said, “Nobody in the league hits the ball so hard so consistently as Simmons.”
After falling into a slump early in the 1973 season while trying to hit home runs, Simmons said, “I knew now I wasn’t ever going to be a big home run hitter, but if I ever felt I had to have some record to shoot at, some goal to turn me on, all I had to think about was Pete Rose hitting over .300 eight years in a row. That’s a record to brag about. It’s a lot more impressive than Roger Maris’ or Hank Aaron’s home run records.”
_ Vern Stephens, 247 home runs, 685 strikeouts: A shortstop who played 15 years in the American League, Stephens hit 20 or more home runs in a season six times, including in 1944 when he helped the Browns to their only pennant.
_ Wally Berger, 242 home runs, 693 strikeouts: An outfielder who played 11 years in the National League, Berger hit 25 or more home runs for the Braves five times, including 38 as a rookie in 1930.
Kluszewski, Stephens and Berger are the only three of the 12 who haven’t been elected to the Hall of Fame.