Loads of investors think they want to find "the next home run stock." These potential 10-baggers keep many of us in the investing game.

But let's take this baseball metaphor further. In baseball, as in investing, home run hitters tend to strike out a lot. Reggie Jackson, one of the best-known home run hitters in baseball history, retired with 563 career home runs. But to get those hits, he also struck out 2,597 times.

Strikeouts or doubles
You might not be able to afford strikeouts in your investment portfolio. After all, for every Chico's FAS (NYSE:CHS) and American Eagle Outfitters (NASDAQ:AEOS), both of which have returned more than 2,000% in the past 10 years, retailers such as Gap (NYSE:GPS) have underperformed the market during that same time period.

Accurately assessing a company's prospects in its infancy can prove difficult and risky. That's why we're offering you this alternative strategy: You can load up on doubles that can earn you great returns with far less risk by buying strong dividend-paying companies with growth prospects at good prices. That's the double: dividends and capital gains. This strategy has been shown to beat the market over the long term, with less risk of capital loss. What's more, you may actually do better than with a high-growth home run strategy.

Find greatness, not hotness
For example, compare a once-hot biotech with health-care staple and Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK):

10-Year Return

GlaxoSmithKline

156%

Calypte Biomedical (AMEX:HIV)

(99%)

Cyanotech (NASDAQ:CYAN)

(87%)

*Data provided by Capital IQ.

Investors once thought both Calypte and Cyanotech had a lot of potential, but over a longer period, you can see that GlaxoSmithKline would have almost tripled your money and paid you along the way, while "potential" lost you loads of money.

This is not to say that there aren't great rewards in finding a "Home Run" stock like PolyMedica (NASDAQ:PLMD), which has returned more than 1,600% over the past 10 years. But before you start looking, you have to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Could you have found it?
  2. Would you have had the patience to hold through incredible volatility?

If not, then you and your portfolio are much better off with a solid dividend payer like GlaxoSmithKline. I mean, why would you say no to some of the easiest money on the market?

A double-play value
The key to this philosophy isn't that a home run won't make you more money than a double. Rather, it's that you can consistently hit many more doubles than home runs.

These doubles are companies you can find in everyday life -- like GlaxoSmithKline -- that have proved themselves with established products and business models, giving investors dividends and high returns along the way. By filling your portfolio with them over the long run, you can beat the market.

At the Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter service, advisor Mathew Emmert finds two dividend doubles each month, and his portfolio is brimming with great high-yielding companies trading below his intrinsic value estimate. Click here to get access to all of his market-beating picks free for 30 days.

Buying doubles doesn't mean you can't look for the next "Home Run" stock. But why pass on so many solid doubles along the way?

This article was originally published on June 20, 2006, as "Doubles Are Better Than Home Runs." It has been updated.

Fool Wiffle Ball batting champ Shruti Basavaraj does not own shares of any company mentioned above. American Eagle and Gap are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Gap is also an Inside Value recommendation. PolyMedica is a former Hidden Gems pick. This is brought to you by the good folks at the Fool'sdisclosure policy.