So far in 2012, more major league homers have been hit from the third spot in the order (346 homers) than the fourth spot (337 homers). It is quite rare over a full major league season for the cleanup spot not to be the place in the batting order with the most dingers. Over the past seventy full seasons, only in 1955 and 2001 has any spot in the order other than cleanup been the source of the most homers in the majors. But the percentage of homers that are hit from the fourth spot, as compared to the rest of lineup, has been headed generally downward for decades. Some details after the jump.
During the 1930s, 22.2% o all major league homers were hit from the fourth spot in the lineup. That percentage has never been so high in any decade since:
2012 through June 22: 16.2%
Except for the one jump up from the ’50s to the 60’s, the trend has been generally downward since the 1930s.
If fourth-spot hitters have been hitting a smaller percentage of homers, some other spot or spots must be gaining percentage. In large part, the gainers seem to be hitters at the bottom of the order:
Percentage of Major League homers hit from the 7th, 8th and 9th spots in the lineup:
2012 through June 22: 24.2%
Before 1950, fewer than 1 in 5 homers were hit from the bottom three spots in the order. This season, MLB is close to 1 in 4 homers being hit from those bottom three spots. Although major league home run hitting generally has declined from its peak in the 1999-2001 period, the trend of home runs coming increasingly from all parts of the lineup continues. Equality in income and wealth in America may be declining, but egalitarianism continues to be the trend in major league home run hitting.