Middle INFs leading MLB with HRs (Sponsored by the Acronym Council)
Until a recent push by Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez had been leading the majors in home runs for most of the season. Sosa is now only one ahead, 39 to 38, with five home runs in his last three games (and in the process raising his slugging percentage nearly 40 points while still striking out four times in twelve ABs). Rodriguez is still on a pace for the most home runs for a middle infielder, projected to edge out his total of last year by one (53 to 52). Rodriguez's 52 home runs last year, the all-time record for a shortstop, was still only fourth best in the majors.
If A-Rod does pass Sosa and earn his first major-league home run crown, he will be only the fourth middle infielder to do so. Here are the others:
Ernie Banks: 1958 (47 HRs, previous high for SS), 1960 (41)
Rogers Hornsby: 1925 (39)
Herman Long: 1900 (12)
(Note: 2B Lip Pike led the majors in 1872 (6) and 1877 (4), but each year he played more games in the outfield than second, 25 to 24 in '72 and 38 to 22 in '77)
With the perception being that the shortstop is usually the weakest hitting postion player, it's odd that Rogers Hornsby is the only second baseman to ever lead the majors in home runs while three shortstops have done it a total of four times and another may do it this year.