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HR Rates, How Do Your Favorites Rate?
by Ray Flowers
June 15, 2004

Looking to the sky, we bemoan the bazillionth intentional walk that Barry Bonds receives as he tosses his elbow brace and bat toward the dugout. But what if they actually pitched to Barry Bonds? What if we were actually given the chance to hit like damn near everyone else in baseball, just how would he do? In this article we will take a look at that question and survey the landscape of HR hitters in baseball. 

PART I- A look at the current rate of today’s HR hitters.
PART II- A little forecasting as we attempt to predict where these guys will finish.
PART II- A listing of the top 25 HR hitters for the past 3 years.
 

PART I  

We could list the top 25 HR hitters as of the date of this article (June 15th, 2004) but you could check that information on any website. Instead what we propose is a bit different. Let’s list the homerun hitters based on the frequency that they hit HR, not on the total HR they have hit to this point. Below is a chart with displays this idea under the category HR%. HR% denotes the percentage of at bats in which the hitter swings and sends the ball on a path that ends in the glove of some lucky fan in the outfield bleachers (or in a kayak depending on where the game is played).  

Example: Bonds HR% is 13.5 which means that 13.5% of all his at bats result in a HR. 

  HR AB HR%

Bonds

18

133

13.5

Glaus +

11

108

10.2

Thome

19

201

9.4

Dunn

18

205

8.8

Thomas

16

187

8.6

Griffey

18

221

8.1

Berkman

15

195

7.7

Rolen

17

223

7.6

Pujols

17

223

7.6

M.Ramirez

17

228

7.5

Burnitz

16

222

7.2

Finley

17

239

7.1

Chavez +

13

187

7.0

Konerko

14

203

6.9

Drew

13

193

6.7

Castilla

15

224

6.7

Cabrerra

16

239

6.7

Abreu

14

215

6.5

Alou

16

249

6.4

Beltre

15

234

6.4

Piazza

14

223

6.3

C.Wilson

14

224

6.3

Vlad

15

249

6.0

L.Gonzlaez

14

234

6.0

Arod

14

236

5.9

+ Denotes injured players who still have a high enough HR% to qualify among the top 25 in baseball. 

Wow, what a shock, Bonds leads another category. It’s almost as if no matter how you define offensive production, Bonds is at the top, or darn near it. Some other notes:
 

GLAUS- Too bad he has that bum shoulder, it would have been nice to see what he would have done.
THOME- This first sacker is always at or near the top of the HR%, usually right behind Bonds.
GRIFFEY- He truly is experiencing a renaissance this year.
BURNITZ, FINLEY, KONERKO, CASTILLA, BELTRE AND C. WILSON- Have these guys seasons come out of nowhere or what?
 

We bet your asking yourself just how do these HR% compare to the all-time best seasons in baseball history? We’re glad you asked. Here are the top 10 single season HR% of all-time. Again, Bonds is knocking on the door of greatness with his 13.5 HR% thus far in 2004. 

  Season HR%

Bonds

2001

15.3

McGwire

1998

13.8

McGwire

1999

12.5

McGwire

1996

12.3

Ruth

1920

11.8

Bonds

2003

11.5

Bonds

2002

11.4

Ruth

1927

11.1

Sosa

2001

11.1

Ruth

1921

10.9

 

PART II 

How about we switch gears a bit and do some prognosticating? Below is a table that lists three numbers. In the first column is the HR total of each player as of today (June 15). The second column shows what each player would produce in a season of 502 at bats (a little play on the 502 plate appearances needed to qualify for the batting title). In the third column we have listed 559 at bats, which happens to be the average at bat total of the top 25 qualifiers for the batting title last year in baseball (both leagues combined). Now we know that Bonds wont get 559 AB, heck he wont even sniff 502 (his three year average is only 423, compared to Thome’s 528, a difference of 105!), but we can always dream right?
 

 
HR
502
AB
559
AB

Bonds

18

68

76

Glaus +

11

51

57

Thome

19

47

53

Dunn

18

44

49

Thomas

16

43

48

Griffey

18

41

46

Berkman

15

39

43

Rolen

17

38

43

Pujols

17

38

43

M.Ramirez

17

37

42

Burnitz

16

36

40

Finley

17

36

40

Chavez +

13

35

59

Konerko

14

35

39

Drew

13

34

38

Castilla

15

34

37

Cabrerra

16

34

37

Abreu

14

33

36

Alou

16

32

36

Beltre

15

32

36

Piazza

14

32

35

C.Wilson

14

31

35

Vlad

15

30

34

L.Gonzlaez

14

30

33

Arod

14

30

33

 
Um…yeah…76 HR is a lot. Sixty-eight is kind of a lot as well, but if we had to guess, and that’s what we are doing in this section, we’d guess that Bonds season total will be right around 42 (his pace of 342 at bats is ridiculously small). If only they would pitch to him.  

As for the other guys…we think that if you had to make some educated guesses, we’d stick the totals from the 502 AB column, but still be a bit wary. The long summer tends to drain many ballplayers power.  

PART III 

In this section we will list the top 10 HR% hitters for the past three years.
 

***For a listing of the top 25 HR% hitters of the past 10 years, an a listing of the top 25 HR% seasons of all-time, visit
www.wildpitch.blogspot.com 

These totals are based on those hitters who accumulated 502 plate appearances or more (enough to qualify for the batting crown). 
 
2003  

2002

 

2001

Bonds

11.5

 

Bonds

11.4

 

Bonds

15.3

Edmonds

8.7

 

Thome

10.8

 

Sosa

11.1

Thome

8.1

 

Arod

9.1

 

L.Gonzalez

9.4

Arod

7.7

 

Sosa

8.8

 

Thome

9.3

Sosa

7.7

 

Palmeiro

7.9

 

Helton

8.4

Thomas

7.7

 

Giles

7.7

 

Arod

8.2

Giambi

7.7

 

M.Ramirez

7.6

 

Green

8.0

Sexson

7.4

 

Giambi

7.3

 

Palmeiro

7.8

Delgado

7.4

 

Berkman

7.3

 

M.Ramirez

7.8

Pujols

7.3

 

Green

7.2

 

L.Walker

7.7

 

In the end the top two HR hitters as of this writing, Thome and Bonds, are two names that litter the HR% rate sheet of the 21st century. It’s a joy to watch them hit, hopefully we will get the chance to see both of them do just that the rest of the season. However, we aren’t stupid, we know there’s about as much chance of Bonds getting pitched to as there is of Juan Pierre hitting 40 HR…it just ain’t gonna happen. 

RAYS NOTES 

Did you know that for one week Frank Howard was the best hitter ever? During the week of May 12-18, 1968, Howard managed to hit 10 HR over 6 games in only 20 at bats (HR% of 50.0).
 

Ray Flowers can be reached with comments/questions or suggestions at:
ray@athomeplate.com

You can also visit Rays’ blog at http://wildpitch.blogspot.com/ for a full review of all of his recent articles.


 


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