Two homers: Records

The streak turns 37 days, will there be a movie?

There is a movie — well, it’s actually a British miniseries — called 37 days. The series, which came out in 2014, explored the 37 days between the assassination of Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the declaration of war by the United Kingdom.

I am not suggesting that our 37 days is as important as those 37 days.

No I am saying that I wasn’t alive then and so didn’t have to write each of those 37 days, which makes our 37 days way MORE important.

Three players hit two homers on Tuesday night, and yes the streak is now 37, and yes we are still planning a super awesome surprise here at JoeBlogs on the day the streak hits 40. So we have that to look forward to, assuming I don’t walk into the sea first.

There was some star power on Tuesday night, so we’ll get into that. And I want to talk a little bit about team and individual home run records.

— Freddie Freeman hit two home runs in Atlanta’s 5-1 victory over Miami. It was the second time in five days that Freeman hit two homers in a game — and in the three games between he went 0-for-12 with five strikeouts. It’s so weird out there right now.

Freeman is hitting .307/.399/.576 with 33 homers and a league-leading 102 RBIs and there are still 36 games left in his season. His OPS is .975. If you want to know how much offense is up, you only have to look at his OPS+ — that is his OPS, ballpark adjusted, when compared with the rest of the league. Remember 100 is league average and every number above it is a percentage point better than league average.

Here he is compared with other players who finished their seasons with a .975 OPS:

  1. Frank Thomas, 1992: 174 OPS+

  2. Jason Giambi, 2005, 161 OPS+

  3. Reggie Sanders, 1995, 155 OPS+

  4. Jason Giambi, 1999, 153 OPS+

  5. Frank Robinson, 1959, 153 OPS+

  6. Trot Nixon, 2003, 148 OPS+

  7. Freddie Freeman, 2019, 141 OPS+

  8. Kiki Culyer, 1930, 133 OPS+

You can see that a .975 OPS in 2019, while really good, isn’t like other years. You probably also know that 1930 was one of the craziest offensive seasons ever, the whole National League hit .303.

— Anthony Rizzo hit two home runs, and man oh man is this guy a metronome. Steady Eddie Murray was famous for putting up the same good numbers every single season in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and that’s Rizzo now — he always hits .282/.391/.512 or something like that with 32 homers and like 101 (or 109) RBIs. He plays Gold Glove level first base. He’s as predictable as those Liam Neeson “Taken” movies.

Murray was beloved by managers, teammates and hometown fans for his extraordinary consistency, but nationally he was often overlooked because, let’s be honest, consistency is just not very interesting. You get a bit of the same feeling about Rizzo. This was his first two-homer game during the streak and, as such, the first time I looked at his numbers all year. And what do you know? They are EXACTLY what you would expect. He’s hitting .288/.400/.527 with 25 home runs and 79 RBIs, and he’s playing Gold Glove defense, and OK, all is right with the world, I’ll check back on him the next time he hits two homers.

— In 1995, I was the sports columnist for The Cincinnati Post and my understanding of baseball context was pretty lacking. I just couldn’t understand how Dante Bichette did not win the league MVP award. I mean, sure, I adored Barry Larkin, had watched him play every day, had seen how good he was in every situation.

But Bichette hit .340 with 40 home runs and 128 RBIs. I mean, take away Tony Gwynn and Mike Piazza, those were triple crown numbers! It was somewhat lost on me the role that Coors Field played — he hit 31 of his 40 homers at home and had a 350 point OPS advantage at Coors — or that Bichette was a problematic outfielder and a subpar baserunner.

1995 WAR
Larkin: 5.9
Bichette: 1.2

Anyway, I am not rehashing an old MVP race just because I saw that Dante’s son Bo Bichette absolutely obliterated two home runs off Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday.

No, I am thinking, “Man, I had to be some kind of moron to write that Dante Bichette deserved the MVP award over Barry Larkin when I was a CINCINNATI COLUMNIST.”

OK, back to the moment — those two home runs by Bo were REALLY something.

This is such a fun video because it goes through all three of the Bo-Clayton at-bats.

In the first at-bat, Bichette crunched a 106-mph exit velocity homer 423 feet to left-center.

In the second at-bat, Kershaw toyed with the rookie. On one pitch, he made Bichette quiver so badly on a curveball that you half expected Kershaw to come to plate and hit him twice in the arm while saying, “Two for flinching!” Eventually, Kershaw whiffed Bichette on a 58-foot curveball.

In the third at-bat, Bichette hammered another 106-mph exit velocity blast, this one more down the left-field line so it looked even more impressive.

The Dodgers still won the game 16-3 because two awesome home runs by Bichette did not counter five home runs by the Dodgers, including one by the Freshest Prince Will Smith, who apparently intends to just keep being Mike Piazza.

Look at these rookies:

Bichette in 91 big league at-bats is hitting .341/.388/.703 with 7 home runs.

Smith in 84 at-bats big league at bats is hitting .321/.398/.809 with 11 home runs.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

OK, I do want to make a semi-quick point about home run records. A few weeks ago, I wrote how 19 of the 30 teams in baseball had a real shot at breaking their team home run record. Just a quick update on how that’s going:

Already broken the team record

— Minnesota. The Twins have 244 homers. Old record was 225.

About to break the team record

— San Diego. The Padres are two home run away from record of 189

— Los Angeles. The Dodgers have 223 homers, 12 away from record.

Still on pace

— Milwaukee. Brewers are 29 homers away.

— Atlanta. Braves are 32 homers away.

— Houston. The Astros are 34 homers away.

— Washington. The Nationals are 34 homers away and are hitting so many home runs now they might break it by next Tuesday.

— Arizona. The Diamondbacks are 34 homers away.

— Chicago Cubs. They are 37 homers away.

— Pittsburgh. The Pirates are 37 homers away despite being 27th in baseball in home runs.

— New York Yankees are 38 homers away from the team record which is also the all-time record. They are likely one of three or four teams that will break the record.

— Boston Red Sox. They are 39 homers away.

It will be close but …

— New York Mets are 42 homers away. They will probably get there.

— Oakland is 45 homers away. They’ll probably get there.

— Cincinnati is 46 homers away. Maybe.

— Cleveland is 46 homers away. Better chance they break it than Cincinnati, probably.

— The Angels are 51 homers away. Going to be tough.

— The Mariners are 60 homers away and I don’t think they have the firepower to get there.

So, as you can see, most teams are still in the hunt for their own team homer record. That’s the macro story. But what about the micro story, the story of individuals breaking their team home run records?

There are five with a real chance to do it.

— The Mets’ Pete Alonso will tie Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley for the franchise record with his next home run.

— In Kansas City, Jorge Soler should smash the Royals record because that record is just 38, which is embarrassing.

— In Los Angeles, you would expect Mike Trout to break Troy Glaus’ Angels record of 47 home runs; Trout hit his 42nd homer on Tuesday. That record, like all records, SHOULD belong to Mike Trout.

— In Milwaukee, Christian Yelich has a pretty good shot at breaking Prince Fielder’s team home run record of 50.

— In Los Angeles, Cody Bellinger has an even better shot at breaking Shawn Green’s franchise record of 49.

Now, look, if five different players break their team home run records in one year, that’s crazy. But it isn’t quite as crazy as the bigger story, the league-wide story, and there’s a reason for that: EVERYBODY is hitting home runs in 2019. This isn’t a few dozen players like it was during the Selig Era. This is everybody in baseball, from the rookies to the veterans, from lefties to righties, from little guys to big guys.

I’m keeping a daily a daily chart (gotta make the donuts) of the number of players who have hit X number of home runs, with X being any number between 1 and 50. Go ahead, pick a number. What’s that? You say 24?

There are currently 53 players in baseball who have hit 24 home runs.

The record is 83 and it was set in 2017.

You want the number 8? There are 264 players this year with eight home runs. The record is 276, set in 2017.

Most of these records less than 28 were set in 2017 — that’s because 2017 was a lot like this year with everybody mashing homers. But when you get higher than 28, the records are all in the Selig Era.

28-plus homers: 53 players, set in 2000

32-plus homers: 39 players, set in 1999

39-plus homers: 21 players, set in 1996

And so on. You can go into all the theories about PEDs and juiced baseballs, but I don’t want to get into all that now. My point is that while there was a concentrated group of players during the SE who hit a lot of home runs, it’s different now.

Over the next few days, a record will be set for most players with six or more homers — right now 312 players have done it and the record is 316.

Seven-plus homers will go down shortly after that.

I’ll keep you updated, it will be very interesting (at least to a baseball nerd like me) to see how high the 2019 homer record will go. In 2001, seven players hit 49 home runs — I don’t think that will happen this year. But I do think more players will hit 27 home runs than ever before.

And we return to our favorite quote from Syndrome from The Incredibles: “Everyone can be super. And when everyone’s super … no one will be.”

Does that mean that if everyone hits 27 home runs than nobody did?

Well, that’s the argument you see raging all over baseball now, isn’t it?