The Yearly Reader

Leaders and Honors, 1994

Our list of baseball’s top 10 hitters and pitchers in both the American League and National League for the 1994 baseball season, as well as the awards and honors given to the game’s top achievers of the year.

The National League’s Top 10 Hitters, 1994

Bold type in brick red indicates league leader.

1. Jeff Bagwell, Houston

Key Numbers: .368 average, 104 runs, 147 hits, 32 doubles, 39 home runs, 116 RBIs, 65 walks, 15 stolen bases, .750 slugging percentage.

Regardless of whether his season was stopped at 110 games by the strike or a broken hand suffered on a pitch thrown too far in, Bagwell still set Astros records for home runs and RBIs. He became the first player in franchise history to win an MVP—and the last until Jose Altuve in 2017.

2. Barry Bonds, San Francisco

Key Numbers: .312 average, 89 runs, 122 hits, 18 doubles, 37 home runs, 81 RBIs, 74 walks, 18 intentional walks, 29 stolen bases.

Using the “he was on pace for” argument in this shortened season of offensive overload, Bonds might have done Jose Canseco one better and gone 50-40, with 50 homers and 40 steals.

3. Fred McGriff, Atlanta

Key Numbers: .318 average, 81 runs, 135 hits, 25 doubles, 34 home runs, 94 RBIs.

McGriff would never hit more than 37 homers in any of his 19 big-league years, but he certainly would have topped 40 had he continued at his rate of power within a 162-game sked.

4. Larry Walker, Montreal

Key Numbers: .322 average, 76 runs, 127 hits, 44 doubles, 19 home runs, 86 RBIs, 15 stolen bases.

Nobody had hit 60 or more doubles in a season since 1936, but Walker was one of three major leaguers (Craig Biggio and Chuck Knoblauch being the others) on target to do just that.

5. Moises Alou, Montreal

Key Numbers: .339 average, 81 runs, 143 hits, 31 doubles, 5 triples, 22 home runs, 78 RBIs.

Whether parental guidance was suggested or not, Alou made father (and Expos manager) Felipe proud in Montreal.

6. Tony Gwynn, San Diego

Key Numbers: .394 average, 79 runs, 165 hits, 35 doubles, 12 home runs, 64 RBIs, 20 grounded into double plays, .454 on-base percentage.

Somewhat lost in Gwynn’s curtailed ride to history was that it was the onset of a four-year stretch in which he would bat .371, collecting batting titles in all four seasons.

7. Kevin Mitchell, Cincinnati

Key Numbers: .326 average, 18 doubles, 30 home runs, 77 RBIs, 60 walks.

A powerful bounceback for Mitchell in his second year with strike-shafted Cincinnati; rather than await the fate of 1995 baseball, he would coast across the Pacific to play a year in Japan.

8. Craig Biggio, Houston

Key Numbers: .318 average, 88 runs, 139 hits, 44 doubles, 5 triples, 6 home runs, 56 RBIs, 62 walks, 39 stolen bases.

Along with Jeff Bagwell, Biggio’s game statistically mushroomed as he doubled, stole and scored almost at will. It’s hard to believe he actually came up to the Astros six years earlier as a catcher.

9. Andres Galarraga, Colorado

Key Numbers: .319 average, 77 runs, 133 hits, 21 doubles, 31 home runs, 85 RBIs.

Like Jeff Bagwell, Galarraga’s opportunity to add to his prodigious numbers was cut short not by strike but by a broken hand after getting nailed by a pitch; his 30 RBIs in April broke a then-NL record.

10. Gary Sheffield, Florida

Key Numbers: 87 games, .276 average, 61 runs, 27 home runs, 78 RBIs, 12 stolen bases.

After a blazing start (10 home runs in April), Sheffield’s first somewhat full season in Miami was muted by a rotator cuff injuries that shortened his springtime duty.

The American League’s Top 10 Hitters, 1994

1. Frank Thomas, Chicago

Key Numbers: .353 average, 106 runs, 141 hits, 34 doubles, 38 home runs, 101 RBIs, 109 walks, .487 on-base percentage, .729 slugging percentage.

Helping to break in a go-go era of slugging dominance, Thomas—who nabbed his second straight MVP—joined Jeff Bagwell and Albert Belle to resoundingly combine average with power and become the first three players to record a .700+ slugging percentage in nearly 40 years.

2. Albert Belle, Cleveland

Key Numbers: .357 average, 90 runs, 147 hits, 35 doubles, 36 home runs, 101 RBIs.

Plant the asterisk on Belle as teammate Jason Grimsley—who boldly broke into the umpire’s dressing room in Chicago to grab one of the slugger’s corked bats earlier confiscated—later claimed that all of his bats were corked.

3. Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle

Key Numbers: .323 average, 94 runs, 140 hits, 24 doubles, 4 triples, 40 home runs, 90 RBIs, 19 intentional walks, 11 stolen bases.

The Kid’s 32 home runs at the end of June set a major league mark.

4. Kenny Lofton, Cleveland

Key Numbers: .349 average, 105 runs, 160 hits, 32 doubles, 9 triples, 12 home runs, 57 RBIs, 60 stolen bases.

The dynamic speedster was on his way to an unstoppable year—until the strike stopped it; he hit .500 or better against three teams (Detroit, Minnesota and Oakland).

5. Paul O’Neill, New York

Key Numbers: .359 average, 68 runs, 132 hits, 25 doubles, 21 home runs, 83 RBIs, 72 walks.

O’Neill’s very uptight attitude did anything but wilt under the pressure-packed New York spotlight, his game soaring with an AL batting title after years of attempted breakouts in Cincinnati.

6. Kirby Puckett, Minnesota

Key Numbers: .317 average, 79 runs, 139 hits, 32 doubles, 3 triples, 20 home runs, 112 RBIs.

Puckett had a pair of seven-RBI games—both against the Red Sox—and hit .366 with 72 RBIs in 59 games at the Metrodome.

7. Paul Molitor, Toronto

Key Numbers: 115 games, .341 average, 86 runs, 155 hits, 30 doubles, 4 triples, 14 home runs, 75 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, 0 caught stealing.

While the rest of the two-time defending champion Blue Jays took an offensive dip and finished below .500, it wasn’t because of Molitor, who kept riding high; he became the first American Leaguer to steal 20 bases without once getting caught.

8. Bob Hamelin, Kansas City

Key Numbers: .282 average, 25 doubles, 24 home runs, 65 RBIs.

The book on how to stop the AL Rookie of the Year didn’t appear to show up at other team’s doorsteps until after 1994; he would last only four more years and bat .235 with fair power at best.

9. Julio Franco, Chicago

Key Numbers: .319 average, 72 runs, 138 hits, 19 doubles, 20 home runs, 98 RBIs, 62 walks.

At age 35, Franco set personal home run and RBI marks despite the strike-shortened schedule; he was on pace to knock in 140. Like Kevin Mitchell (above), Franco took his act to Japan in 1995 while players and owners continued to feud.

10. Kirk Gibson, Detroit

Key Numbers: .317 average, 71 runs, 17 doubles, 23 home runs, 72 RBIs.

Gibson had an eye-opening if brief return to his former glory at age 37, during his second year after being brought back to Detroit by new Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. (Previous management had publicly bad-mouthed Gibson and privately conspired against him via league-wide collusion).

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The National League’s Top 10 Pitchers, 1994

1. Greg Maddux, Atlanta

Key Numbers: 1.56 ERA, 16 wins, 6 losses, .727 win percentage, 25 starts, 10 complete games, 3 shutouts, 202 innings, 31 walks, 22 stolen bases allowed, 21 grounded into double plays.

Maddux thoroughly defied the offensive bull market and produced the third lowest ERA since the Deadball Era.

2. Bret Saberhagen, New York

Key Numbers: 2.74 ERA, 14 wins, 4 losses, .778 win percentage, 24 starts, 177.1 innings, 13 walks.

‘Even’ better: Saberhagen, who always thrived in odd-numbered years, finally pitched against type and scored a standout even-year performance.

3. Doug Drabek, Houston

Key Numbers: 2.84 ERA, 12 wins, 6 losses, 23 starts, 164.2 innings.

A fine return to form for the one-time Cy Young winner, a year after losing an NL-high 18 games; 1994 would be the only solid return on investment the Astros would get on Drabek over four years and $19 million.

4. Bobby Jones, New York

Key Numbers: 3.15 ERA, 12 wins, 7 losses, 24 starts, 160 innings.

The better of two pitchers both named Bobby Jones—they were actually teammates for a brief time in 2000—the Fresno, California-born version finished his first full campaign on a high, going 5-0 over his last eight starts.

5. Danny Jackson, Philadelphia

Key Numbers: 3.26 ERA, 14 wins, 6 losses, .700 win percentage, 25 starts, 179.1 innings, 20 grounded into double plays.

The spigot was briefly turned on hot for Jackson in a continuing hot-and-cold career.

6. Shane Reynolds, Houston

Key Numbers: 3.05 ERA, 8 wins, 5 losses, 33 appearances, 14 starts, 124 innings, 21 walks.

A bit of a revelation for the Astros, as Reynolds bounced around between the bullpen and rotation, performing much better in the latter role (5-4 record, 2.54 ERA in 14 starts).

7. Ken Hill, Montreal

Key Numbers: 3.32 ERA, 16 wins, 5 losses, .762 win percentage, 23 starts, 154.2 innings, 19 stolen bases allowed.

Firmly established as the Expos’ workhorse, Hill managed to match Greg Maddux in wins (if certainly not in ERA) and had a strong shot at setting the franchise record for wins in one season—had the strike not intervened.

8. Butch Henry, Montreal

Key Numbers: 2.43 ERA, 8 wins, 3 losses, 1 save, 24 appearances, 15 starts, 107.1 innings.

Rescued from Colorado a year earlier after realizing how brutal pitching at 5,280 feet could be, the 25-year-old lefty was a brief wonder in the Expos’ rotation.

9. Pedro Martinez, Montreal

Key Numbers: 3.42 ERA, 11 wins, 5 losses, .688 win percentage, 1 save, 23 starts, 144.2 innings, 11 hit-by-pitches.

There were two Dominicans named Pedro Martinez in the majors in 1994, with clearly the better one beginning to make a name for himself at Montreal.

10. Jeff Fassero, Montreal

Key Numbers: 2.99 ERA, 8 wins, 6 losses, 21 starts, 138.2 innings.

Fassero’s superlative season was highlighted by a near-no-hitter, lost with two outs in the ninth on June 13 vs. Pittsburgh.

The American League’s Top 10 Pitchers, 1994

1. David Cone, Kansas City

Key Numbers: 2.94 ERA, 16 wins, 5 losses, .762 win percentage, 23 starts, 171.2 innings.

After a wild (114 walks) and luckless (last in run support) first year at Kansas City, Cone got more disciplined with his location—and the Royals more disciplined in scoring runs for him.

2. Mike Mussina, Baltimore

Key Numbers: 3.06 ERA, 16 wins, 5 losses, .762 win percentage, 24 starts, 176.1 innings.

The young Baltimore ace, who didn’t win 20 games until his last season (2008), could have ended the suspense much sooner had the strike allowed him as he was on pace for 23 triumphs in 1994.

3. Randy Johnson, Seattle

Key Numbers: 3.19 ERA, 13 wins, 6 losses, 23 starts, 9 complete games, 4 shutouts, 172 innings, 72 walks, 204 strikeouts, 22 stolen bases allowed, 15 caught stealing/picked off, 18 grounded into double plays.

With the last pitch of the entire MLB season, the Big Unit struck out his 15th victim at Oakland on August 11 to match a major league season-high he earlier established; hours later, the players went on strike.

4. Jimmy Key, New York

Key Numbers: 3.27 ERA, 17 wins, 4 losses, .810 win percentage, 25 starts, 168 innings, 22 grounded into double plays.

A supporting star back in Toronto, Key became the ace of the times in New York, running his two-year mark to 35-10.

5. Roger Clemens, Boston

Key Numbers: 2.85 ERA, 9 wins, 7 losses, 24 starts, 170.2 innings, 71 walks.

In the midst of a mid-career swoon, the Rocket briefly returned to star form in spite of a blasé record; opponents hit just .204 against him, the lowest figure since his breakout 1986 campaign.

6. Steve Ontiveros, Oakland

Key Numbers: 2.65 ERA, 6 wins, 4 losses, 27 appearances, 13 starts, 115.1 innings, 26 walks.

His career almost always one step away from the operating room, the fragile Ontiveros qualified for the ERA title by pitching a complete-game effort against the White Sox on what would be the season’s penultimate day; ironically, he’d be the first Athletic to win the AL ERA crown since the last strike-shortened season, when Steve McCatty got the honors.

7. Wilson Alvarez, Chicago

Key Numbers: 3.45 ERA, 12 wins, 8 losses, 24 starts, 161.2 innings.

The tough southpaw, after winning his last seven decisions in 1993, ran that streak to 15 by taking his first eight of 1994.

8. Pat Hentgen, Toronto

Key Numbers: 3.40 ERA, 13 wins, 8 losses, 24 starts, 174.2 innings.

Establishing himself as Toronto ace, Hentgen found himself embracing Skydome (2.05 ERA in 12 home starts), but the love wouldn’t last; he would author a much more mediocre 4.58 figure at the stadium throughout the rest of his career.

9. Dennis Martinez, Cleveland

Key Numbers: 3.52 ERA, 11 wins, 6 losses, 24 starts, 176.2 innings, 17 grounded into double plays.

Martinez brought his amazing career third act—that of the ageless ex-alcoholic—to the AL.

10. Charles Nagy, Cleveland

Key Numbers: 3.45 ERA, 10 wins, 8 losses, 23 starts, 169.1 innings, 19 grounded into double plays.

Nagy rebounded from major shoulder woes the previous year, when he finished 2-6 with a wretched 6.29 ERA.

1994 Baseball History
The 1990s: To Hell and Back
TGG Lists: The 10 Best Pitchers of the 1990s
TGG Lists: The 10 Best Hitters of the 1990s