Today, I want to look at the inverse, and take stock of how hitting is on the decline. While there are myriad ways of attacking this issue, I’m going to focus on hitting for power because in standard leagues, hitting for power carries the most weight, affecting three categories (HR, R, RBI). While this is going to be old hat for some, it’s my hope that looking at the dramatic changes in power production over the course of two seasons will help us properly evaluate those hitters who do provide power.
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A look at the hitters who could outperform their PECOTA projections in the power department.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’ll take a look at offense this week and pitching next. Yesterday’s look at batting average is here. And, without further ado, here are some players capable of teaching Chris Davis a thing or two about hitting dingers this year:
What went wrong for the pitchers who surrendered the longest homers hit in 2013?
Two months ago, I introduced an article dubbed Elevator Action, which was inspired by the tendency for elevated pitches to leave the yard. The concept behind the piece was that it can often be more damaging to miss targets within the strike zone than is to sail pitches out of reach. Pitchers who pound the zone but lack the command to places pitches on its periphery will suffer the consequences.
By design, Raising Aces is pitcher-centric, using a multifaceted approach involving mechanics, stuff, and stats to study the game from the hill. But for the next two weeks, we are going to shift the focus from the pitcher's mound to the batter's box, taking a moment to pay homage to the under-appreciated art of pitcher offense.
Wednesday was marked by three impressive home run feats.
The Wednesday Takeaway
The 2012 Red Sox, eager to be put out of their misery and struggling to amass even a 7-19 record in September, hit only 16 homers during the entire month. The 2013 Red Sox, eager to secure the organization’s first East division title since 2007, produced half of that total in one night.
The rubber match between the Tigers and Red Sox was close for a while—tied 3-3 after three and 4-4 after four, and then 5-4 Boston after five. But in the next three frames, the home team plated 15 runs and the visitors earned none, turning the game into a 20-4 rout that flipped the run-differential tables and made all sorts of long-ball history.
In which Sam is struck by the fact that these hitters hit these home runs far.
For my book report, I have chosen to do my book report on a video entitled (No Music) Longest Home Runs In MLB History. This video was created by Ryan Schwark and I found out about it from Jonah Keri. It was published in August 2013 and it is 18 minutes and five seconds long.
Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera continued their personal home run competition on Sunday.
The Weekend Takeaway
During the 1998 home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, there were 21 days on which both the Cardinals first baseman and the Cubs outfielder went yard. This year, with a little over three-fourths of the season in the books, Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera have traded long balls on 14 days, four of them this month and 13 since May 29.
The most recent of those days was Sunday, when the Tigers hosted the Royals at Comerica Park and the Orioles finished off their series with the Rockies at Camden Yards. Cabrera got his yard work out of the way early at the expense of Bruce Chen, slugging his 40th bomb of the season on the first pitch he saw in the first inning. Davis waited until the eighth inning to crank big fly no. 45, doing so on the first offering he saw from Edgmer Escalona. Cabrera’s shot gave Max Scherzer a 2-0 lead that the right-hander rode to his 18th victory of the season, a 6-3 decision. Davis’s homer, his fourth hit of the day, produced two insurance runs for the Orioles in their 7-2 win.
The history of allowing four home runs in an inning.
Last night in Las Vegas, Mets top prospect Zack Wheeler made his final Triple-A tune-up before his big-league debut. It was a good one. Pitching against the Tacoma Rainiers, Wheeler went 5 2/3 innings, allowing one hit—a home run by Carlos Peguero—two walks, and striking out seven. The Rainiers’ starter, Erasmo Ramirez, was even better, going eight scoreless with seven strikeouts and no walks. And this was in Cashman Field, one of the best offensive environments in Minor League Baseball, where 2.22 home runs were hit per game from 2010-12—more than in any other PCL park except Albuquerque. As a team, the 51s have slugged over 50 points higher at home this season.
I was watching Pedro Alvarez yesterday, smasher of 400-foot home runs and manufacturer of golden sombreros. Alvarez is one of a few streaky hitters who have excellent 2-3 game stretches of power, followed by long stretches of bat contact amnesia. I wondered which hitters hit home runs on back-to-back days most often, so I fired up our database and looked for games where any hitter homered. Then, I tabulated their performance the day after and took the leaders (data since 2011):