The following is a list of the players who have scored the most runs in a season in major league baseball history. All players who scored at least 167 runs in a season are listed.
All the players on the list played before WW II. After the list, I’ve all noted all the players who have scored the most runs in a season since WW II.
In many ways, this a far more impressive list than the one for the players who have driven in the most RBIs in a season. Scoring runs is much harder than driving in runs.
A player can only score one run per plate appearance in baseball, but players can drive in up to four runs per plate appearance with a grand slam home run.
Players with Most Runs Scored in a Season in Major League Baseball History
1. Billy Hamilton (1894) – 198
Billy Hamilton holds the major league baseball record for most runs scored in a season with 198, which he scored during the 1894 season for the Philadelphia Phillies. Hamilton played in an era when it was easy to score runs, but he was still an incredibly prolific run scorer.
For his career, Billy Hamilton scored 1,697 runs in just 6,283 at-bats. His career run scoring average of .270 is higher than Babe Ruth’s. Hamilton led the league four times in runs scored, and scored over 100 runs in 11 of his 14 years in the majors. He also stole 914 bases, the third most in baseball history.
I’ve seen some places list Billy Hamilton with only 192 runs scored in 1894. I believe the 198 figure is the correct one, but in either case he still holds the record for most runs scored in a season.
T-2. Babe Ruth (1911) – 177
Babe Ruth scored a career high and the second most runs in a season in baseball history when he scored 177 times during the 1921 season with the New York Yankees. Ruth was a tremendous run scorer in his career, as he scored 2,174 runs (tied with Hank Aaron for fourth most) in just 8,399 at-bats.
His run scoring average of .259 is the best among all players after the turn of the century.
In his career, Babe Ruth led the league eight times in runs scored, and scored over 100 runs 12 times. In 1921, Babe Ruth also drove in 171 runs and hit 59 home runs, in addition to his 177 runs scored.
T-2. Tom Brown (1891) – 177
Tom Brown of the Boston Reds in the American Association scored 177 runs during the 1891 season. The American Association was a professional baseball league that lasted from 1882 to 1991.
For a number of seasons, the American Association champion played the National League champion in an early version of the World Series.
T-4. Tip O’Neill (1887) – 167
Tip O’Neill of the St. Louis Browns of the American Association scored 167 runs during the 1887 season. That was easily the most runs O’Neill ever scored in a season, and his 1887 season is so far above the rest of his career that if he accomplished the same playing today he would be accused of using steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.
In addition to scoring 167 runs in 1887, Tip O’Neil also hit .435. That is the second highest batting average in a season in baseball history, trailing only Hugh Duffy’s .440 season in 1894.
Stats from before 1900 are sometimes inflated because the rules in baseball were often different.
T-4. Lou Gehrig (1936) – 167
Lou Gehrig scored a career high and the fourth most runs in a season in baseball history when he scored 167 runs in 1936. In his career, Lou Gehrig led the league four times in runs scored, and he scored over 100 runs for 13 consecutive seasons. His 1,888 career runs scored ranks 11th all-time.
Players Who Have Scored Most Runs in a Season Since End of WW II
- Jeff Bagwell (2000) – 152
- Ted Williams (1949) – 150
- Sammy Sosa (2001) – 146
- Craig Biggio (1997) – 146
- Ricky Henderson (1985) – 146