Chicks Dig The Long Ball!
People have been enamored with home runs way before Nike made this commercial, but Mark McGwire brought them into the mainstream. His record-setting home run season was followed by everyone; not just baseball fans. Nobody could have imagined a 70 home run season, and things got even hotter when Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001. Guys like McGwire, Sosa and Bonds set the bar that many minor league players dreamed to live up to. This time in baseball has become known as the steroid era.
McGwire finally admitted in 2010 that he used steroids in 1998 when he set the record, but the admittance of guilt and apology was too little too late. The use of steroids, HGH and other performance enhancing drugs had given baseball a black eye. In December of 2005, the players union approved a new drug policy with MLB by a unanimous vote. The new testing procedures was stricter and accompanied by harsher penalties for positive tests.
We didn’t see that many suspensions in the beginning stages of the testing, but we did see player’s home run totals take a dramatic turn from what we saw in previous seasons. We took a look at player’s home run totals from 1998 to 2013, and the chart below focuses on individuals that hit 40 or more home runs in a season. We used 1998 as the starting point since that was the year the league expanded from 28 to 30 teams.
You’ll see a noticeable difference between the numbers from before and after the new drug testing policy was put in place. Prior to 2007, the number of players to hit 40 or more home runs is double to the numbers we have today. Hitting 40+ homers was child’s play then. Today you’re lucky to see more than a handful of players accomplish that feat.
The numbers fall off even more when you count how many players hit 50 or more home runs in a season. From 2007 to 2013 there has been only 4 players to hit 50 or more home runs in a season. From 1998 to 2006 there were a total of 16 players that hit more than 50 home runs in a season. Additionally 6 of those 16 had 60 or more home runs, something we have not seen since 2001.
Will we ever see another 60 or 70 home run season in our lifetime? It’s possible, but the odds are not in our favor considering the limited number of players that have reached 50 in recent years. We don’t know what will happen in the next 50 years, but we will attempt to predict things for the 2014 season. We asked each member of the Assembly to list who they believe will be the top 9 home run hitters and to give their home run totals, and here are the results.
|Chris Davis||45||Chris Davis||43||Chris Davis||49|
|Miguel Cabrera||41||Edwin Encarnacion||40||Giancarlo Stanton||46|
|Edwin Encarnacion||39||Miguel Cabrera||38||Miguel Cabrera||42|
|Giancarlo Stanton||38||Jose Bautista||36||Pedro Alvarez||40|
|Ryan Braun||36||Paul Goldschmidt||36||Jose Bautista||38|
|Paul Goldschmidt||35||Mike Trout||35||Mark Trumbo||37|
|Pedro Alvarez||34||Mark Trumbo||35||Jay Bruce||36|
|Adam Jones||33||Giancarlo Stanton||34||Paul Goldschmidt||33|
|Prince Fielder||33||Evan Longoria||32||Nelson Cruz||33|
Jim gives an honorable mention to Jose Bautista who could have been in the top 9 if not for a month-long stay on the DL for injuries TBD.
|Miguel Cabrera||44||Chris Davis||43||Miguel Cabrera||43|
|Giancarlo Stanton||41||Giancarlo Stanton||41||Chris Davis||43|
|Chris Davis||39||Edwin Encarnacion||39||Jose Bautista||42|
|Jose Bautista||39||Miguel Cabrera||38||Pedro Alvarez||37|
|Jay Bruce||38||Jose Bautista||37||Giancarlo Stanton||35|
|Prince Fielder||37||Bryce Harper||36||Carlos Gonzalez||35|
|Bryce Harper||36||Paul Goldschmidt||35||Edwin Encarnacion||35|
|Paul Goldschmidt||34||David Ortiz||33||Prince Fielder||34|
|Edwin Encarnacion||33||Robinson Cano||32||Chris Carter||33|
Well there are no 50 HR hitters this year, but most agree Chris Davis will come the closest. Davis is a popular choice with predictions from 39 to 49, and while we can’t agree on a total we can agree that he has power. Giancarlo Stanton falls into the same category as he’s slated to hit between 34 to 46 long balls. Miguel Cabrera is the final player that is on everyone’s list (no surprise) and should hit between 38 and 44 homers.
Now there were a few players that appeared on almost everybody list. Paul Goldschmidt made 5 of the 6 lists and should be good for 33-36 homers. Same thing goes for Edwin Encarnacion and his 33-40 home run potential. And while Jose Bautista only made 5 lists (36-42 HR), it could have been 6 had Jim not predicted a DL stint. If you’re looking for power on draft day, these players have requested your attention.
After those six players it’s a mixed bag of opinions. Pedro Alvarez and Prince Fielder each appear on 3 lists. Alvarez has home run predictions between 34 and 40 while Fielder ranges between 33 and 37. Mark Trumbo, Bryce Harper and Jay Bruce received 2 votes of confidence and all with similar totals between 35-38.
Mike Trout, Evan Longoria, Adam Jones, Carlos Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, David Ortiz, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz and Chris Carter all appear on at least one list, but overall most of the Assembly members don’t see them hitting more than 32 home runs. That’s not to say that they can’t, but judging by the rankings that seems to be the majority opinion. Did we dismiss a player you believe is destined for great power in 2014? List them in the comment section below and make a case for them. Better yet, give us your top 9 home run hitters and their totals and we’ll compare numbers come September.