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Home Runs


totdprods

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Obviously, we all know HRs are the name of the game these days and they're flying out at record rates...but I'm still astounded at some of the the HR totals I'm seeing for some players, especially with a month-plus still to play. 
Now, some of these guys have always had the power potential and are just finally actualizing it, like Jorge Soler currently at 35 (his previous career high was 12) but even more surprising are players like Ketel Marte having 24 HR when his previous career total was 22 in 400 games. 
We've seen this with our own Tommy La Stella hitting 16 in 312 plate appearances vs. only 10 in 947 plate appearances before that.

Some others who surprised me...and will probably surprise you too.

  • Eugenio Suarez already at 33 HR - set a career-high at 34 last year, but he's a good candidate to be a 40-HR man by year's end.
  • Max Kepler with 32 HR, after topping out around 20 the last three years.
  • Max Muncy proving last year's 35 HR wasn't a fluke - he's at 29 this year.
  • Trey Mancini is likely to break the 30-HR mark for the first time, as he's sitting at 29.
  • Joining Mancini in Baltimore is third baseman Renato Nunez, currently at 25.
  • Daniel Vogelbach translated his minor-league success to the bigs - he's at 27.
  • Gary Sanchez has hit a crazy 27 home runs in only 353 plate appearances.
  • Eduardo Escobar is likely to make the 30-HR plateau, as he's also at 27.
  • Xander Bogaerts has 27, and Rafael Devers has 25.
  • In fact, crazy power numbers all across the Red Sox lineup - every starter has double digit HR totals, including second baseman Michael Chavis and catcher Christian Vasquez both with 18.
  • Yuli Gurriel, who I didn't realize is already 35 years old, has well eclipsed his career high of 18 HR - he's currently at 25 HR and a candidate to break the 30-hr mark.
  • Yordan Alvarez already has 17 HR and he made his debut in June. Austin Riley has 17 HR in 66 games.
  • Juan Soto is 20 years old, and has 25 on the year, and 47 in his career. He hit 22 in 122 minor league games. 
  • Mitch Garver?! 23 home runs. Roberto Perez!? 20 home runs.
  • D.J. LeMahieu left Coors Field and has already set a career high with 19 HR.
  • Christian Walker has 21 for the Diamondbacks, and a higher OPS than the man he replaced at 1B. 
  • Utility infielder Danny Santana has 19 HR for the Rangers, after only hitting 10 in his first five years/1165 PA.
  • Ramon Laureano has 21-HR power now to go along with his arm.
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The juiced baseball has definitely affected numbers across the league.

You have to look at players like Kole Calhoun and what his number would look like if it was a normal baseball year.

His power numbers are way up this year but his average still remains low most likely due to the shift.

That's one of the reason I would not pick up his option for next year because there is a good chance he is going to regress.

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I hate this trend in baseball. No doubt somewhere in the MLB offices this was strategized as part of a way to increase the marketing of the sport. Especially to young kids. And whatever changes to the baseball, strike zone and anything else play into this.

Look how the homerun derby has been glorified and promoted as a main event unto itself. No other all star week event gets even a fraction of the attention.

The connection to video gaming is part of the mindset. No doubt kids watch the homerun derby consciously or subconsciously imagining they are manipulating a player through a game controller. Then they watch games, expecting home runs. 

And the instant measure of 'launch angles', distance and exit velocity turn the sport into a personal competition. Not only who hits more, but who hits it further and who is stronger. Focus devolves from the team to the individual slugger. And not how good he is, but how strong 

Unless you have years of experience watching the changes in the game you don't realize what has been lost. Of course changes and evolution are inevitable, but I think the balance of all around skills that have made the sport great is becoming lopsided. And it ties into strategy. Which then ties into scouting and analytics. 

It's more complex, but I don't have the time now to get deeper into this stuff.

Suffice it to say that I think 1968 scared the shit out of the baseball powers. That 'year of the pitcher' was the polar opposite of what we see now. And things were tweaked accordingly the next year to restore the balance. With that recognition that rule changes and physical changes to ball, bat, mound, etc. refigured the game. And baseball has tweaked more and more over the years.

And let's not forget the steroid era was essentially a prelude to what we have now. Bodies were manipulated rather than rules or objects. But that period showed that the public had an appetite for massive displays of power. 

Babe Ruth was the first transformative figure to reveal the appeal for home runs. And he single handedly led the  change to the game in radical ways. Was it 1930 that we saw an insane increase in power and scoring? More drastic even than now? 

Lust for homeruns always is the emotion that the powers in baseball periodically stimulate. But if the players are now naturally stronger, bigger, better trained and prepared, maybe baseball should tweak things in ways to restore the symmetry of the game.

Bring back a 1968 mindset that gives pitchers, spray hitters and speedsters more importance. And also revisits classic baseball managerial strategies.

Honestly, who gives a rat"s ass counting homers or gasping at exit velocity? 

 

 

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@Duren, Duren I don't think it's just a result of fans craving more home runs or juiced balls or launch angles. I agree that some of that has definitely played a part, but I don't think there is a grand conspiracy to water down the game to strikeouts and home runs.

I think the game is going through some weird evolutions right now. Only a few years ago, the steroid era ended and HRs dropped. All of this new data came out about defensive positioning and shifts and it killed the spray hitters/hitting for contact because data caught up to a point where teams could attack that. Pitchers went dramatically more for the strikeout. Hitters evolved by focusing more on the HR. 


Most of what we're going through right is an intense back-and-forth of teams looking for the next competitive advantage. Is it launch angle? Is it shifts? Is it openers? Ten, fifteen years ago, only a handful of clubs embraced analytics and data and it gave them a competitive advantage over teams that did not and stuck to conventional methods. Now, just about every MLB team has come around to analytics. Now that everyone is doing it, it begins to erode that advantage. So we're seeing everyone look for the new trend to put them ahead. In many ways, this is exciting. But it's sort of like a new phase of puberty for baseball. There's going to be lots of weird, uncomfortable situations and experiments, but it's just a phase. Things are cyclical. We've already seen the Mets bring Phil Regan back into coaching and now the Phillies with Charlie Manuel. A reversion to the 'Good OI' Days' might come along as soon as one team proves they can again win that way - likely with an assist with some new-age learnings.

Edited by totdprods
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Both Duren and Tot make good points.

I would not go back to 1968 baseball, but I do enjoy games that have a little of everything.   Timely hitting, solid pitching with some endurance, good defense, and baserunning; and of course I long for the days even when pitchers averaged generally 6-7 innings/start. 

Games of 3-2, 4-3, and 5-4 with the previous features are most interesting to me.

I see an argument being made for limiting shifts, like the NBA does with zone defense.   But also, why don't more of the non-star power hitters hit the ball to all fields?   They have no business being strictly pull hitters.  

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6 minutes ago, Angel Oracle said:

But also, why don't more of the non-star power hitters hit the ball to all fields?   They have no business being strictly pull hitters.  

This is something I imagine will cycle back around. 

Think of it...analysts comb over data and see a pattern. They pass it along to the coaching staff. Coaches tell the players to move over 15 feet next time so and so hits. 
It took the players one game to implement that. One play even. 

The hitter? He has to change a career's worth of tendencies and mechanics to combat that, something that took the other team a whopping 15 seconds to implement in-game.
And he's having to make those changes with no guarantee of success. While trying to compete day in and day out. 

That's why I also think this is cyclical. The next 'generation' of hitters are coming into the game now where they have to deal with defensive shifts, and will have to strengthen their ability to adapt and adjust. This will naturally start to neutralize the effect of shifts. 
The temporary solution for current MLB hitters is what you're seeing Kole Calhoun do - adjust launch angle and swing for the fences and try to hit over the shifts, instead of changing everything they've done to get to where they are just to hit against it.

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@totdprods - So there is a given that players have to adjust, especially to the shift.  But pitchers are being chewed up at an alarming rate.  Could it be that today's pitchers are trying to pitch to the defensive shift to their own detriment?  Starters are lasting, in starts AND innings pitched around the league.

I looked up and found that 93 MLB starters had 20 or more games started.  I believe this should be about 130 or more.

 

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58 minutes ago, Slegnaac said:

And the big news in 1977 was four players on the Dodgers hit 30+ home runs.

And coming just 3 years after Brock stole 118 bases to break Wills' single season record 

Crazy stat #2: Brock had almost as many SB attempts as games played in 1974 (151 attempts in 153 games).

Nowadays, it's a shock when anyone steals over 40 bases.

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I thought the 70s and 80s had the best statistical balance. You had plenty of outlier stats - from George Brett's .390 BA in 1980 to 100+ SB seasons and lots of 70+ SB seasons, to plenty of power, standout pitching, etc. It all complemented itself well for a very diverse game, but a good balance of pitching and hitting.

And of course who doesn't miss Tim Raines sliding head first into 2nd to protect his coke vial in his back pocket?

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Median HR total among qualifiers: 

1871-2019: 9

1919-2019 (excludes Dead Ball Era): 13+ (closer to 14 than 12)

1970-2019 (last 50 years): 16

2010-2019 (last decade): 19

2018-19 (last two years): 20

 

Growing up in the 80s, I considered 15 HR to be average power, 20 good power, and 30 the mark of a true "power hitter," with 40 being extraordinary and 50+ being historic.

I think you can add 5 to all of those: 20 is now average power, 25 good, 35 a true power hitter.

That said, I suspect that as with a lot of stats, there are fewer outliers and while there are more HR, it is more the center that has moved and less the top-end. There are just a ton of guys hitting 15-35 HR, but every few 40+ - and maybe no more than many years with lower HR totals. Haven't done the research, though.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, tdawg87 said:

Baseball was at an all time high in popularity in 1993?

I didn’t say 1993. The ratings were amazing. They would stop regular programming to “look in” at Bonds and Sosa at bats. It was crazy good. 

Edited by Calzone 2
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37 minutes ago, PattyD22 said:

I miss the hit and run, moving runners over, and strategic baseball other than a stupid shift.

And I also miss George Foster.

Foster had ridiculous strength for a guy as slender as he was.   But it was all fit muscle.   He destroyed NL pitching in 1977, first guy to hit 50+ HRs in 12 years.

Once saw him hit a ball to the back of a bullpen in what seemed like just a few seconds.   

Big Red Machine really took off in 1975, after he became the regular LF and moved Rose to 3B, going 90-34 after starting off 18-20 and winning two straight WS titles. 

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20 minutes ago, jsnpritchett said:

I don't think anyone has had 5, have they?  Angels had 4 in 2000.

No one has had 5 30+ HR guys yet.

Minnesota currently has five players with at least 22 HRs (two already at 30+).

Nelson Cruz DH  -  32     87 games

Max Kepler RF     -  32  112 games

Eddie Rosario LF - 27   102 games

Mitch Garver C     - 23     67 games

Miguel Sano 3B   - 22      72 games

Twins are on pace (315 HRs) to shatter the MLB team HRs single season record of 267 by the 2018 Yankees.   I thought Target Field was supposed to be hitting neutral? 

And then there's the Halos, who in 1975-1976 hit a grand total of 118 HRs (last in the AL each season, 55 and 63 respectively).

 

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