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Leaderboarding: Best run production seasons in terms of RBI per game

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Only a few players have done what Jeff Bagwell did in 1994.
Only a few players have done what Jeff Bagwell did in 1994. (USATSI)

RELATED: Looking at Jeff Bagwell's Hall of Fame case

The 2014 Hall of Fame class will be announced this Wednesday, so in two days we will learn whether former Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell will gain entry into Cooperstown. He was an offensive juggernaut in the 1990s and retired with a career 149 OPS+ in over 9,400 plate appearances.

Bagwell is already a member of a rather exclusive club, a club that is actually more exclusive than the Hall of Fame. This club features players who had more runs batted in than games played in a single season (while qualifying for the batting title). Only 20 players have done it (a total of 44 times) throughout history. Bagwell accomplished the feat during his MVP season in 1994, when he plated 116 runs in only 110 games.

So, with that in mind, here are the 10 best RBI seasons in history, at least in terms of RBI per games played.

Best RBI per Game rates in MLB History
Player and TeamGamesRBIRBI per Game
Hack Wilson, 1930 Cubs1551911.23
Al Simmons, 1930 Athletics1381651.20
Hank Greenberg, 1937 Tigers1541831.19
Lou Gehrig, 1931 Yankees1551841.19
Jimmie Foxx, 1938 Red Sox1491751.17
Babe Ruth, 1929 Yankees1351541.14
Gehrig, 1930 Yankees1541741.13
Gehrig, 1927 Yankees1551751.13
Ruth, 1921 Yankees1521711.13
Ruth, 1931 Yankees1451631.12

Six players and all of 'em are Hall of Famers. All of those great RBI seasons came during the 1920s and 1930s as well, and that's ... actually kinda boring. Not many of us actually got to see those guys play.

So, let's revise our criteria a bit and make this a bit more current. Here are the eight best RBI per games played seasons during the expansion era (1961-present).

Best RBI per Game rates during the Expansion Era
Player and TeamGamesRBIRBI per Game
Manny Ramirez, 1999 Indians1471651.12
Juan Gonzalez, 1996 Rangers1341441.07
Bagwell, 1994 Astros1101161.05
Kirby Puckett, 1994 Twins1081121.05
Ramirez, 2000 Indians1181221.03
Gonzalez, 1998 Rangers1541571.02
George Brett, 1980 Royals1171181.01

I had to stop the list at seven because that's how many players have managed more RBI than games played (while qualifying for the batting title!) since 1961. Only seven. Well, it's really only five players since Manny and Juan Gone both did it twice. Still gives you a pretty good idea of just how historic Bagwell's 1994 season was in terms of run production. If there were ducks on the pond, he was getting them in.

And, just in case you were wondering, the worst RBI per games played rate in history belongs to Enzo Hernandez, who drove in only 12 runs in 143 games (0.08 RBI per game) for the 1971 Padres.

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