Major League Baseball is finishing up its 2012 All-Star Break today*, so it seemed like as good a time as any to bust out an update on the teams that have gone the longest without a 40-homerun hitter.
*Today is often referred to as “the worst day of the baseball season” because there are no major league games. Considering I am sitting in the press box at Lowell’s Lelacheur Park, getting ready to watch a game that begins in just over an hour, I find it hard to endorse that sentiment. There’s always baseball. You just have to find it.
For each team below, I included the player or players who are currently leading each team in homeruns and their expected total if they maintain the same pace for the rest of the season (to make my life easier, I accounted for games missed already but assumed they would play every remaining contest).
Kansas City Royals
Last player to hit 40: None
Who can do it (preseason): Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Bubba Starling
Team Games: 84
Billy Butler: 16 homeruns in 83 games = 31 in 161 games
Mike Moustakas: 15 homeruns in 79 games = 30 in 157 games
Hosmer is hitting .231 with nine homeruns in 81 games thus far (based on some of my random Twitter follows, his sophomore slump is freaking more than a few people out). Bubba Starling kicked off his professional career in short-season Rookie ball and has hit two homeruns in his first ten games. Moustakas is Moustakas. Billy Butler is gonna hit 24 more bombs just to spite Robinson Cano.
Last player to hit 40: Harmon Killebrew, 1970 (41)
Who can do it (preseason): Justin Morneau, Miguel Sano
Team Games: 84
Josh Willingham: 19 homeruns in 81 games = 37 in 159 games
Trevor Plouffe: 19 homeruns in 66 games = 41 in 144 games
Chris and I have been ironically referring to Plouffe as “Babe Plouffe” since last season. So of course this year he goes all homerun crazy and makes us look like idiots. (We don’t need any help with that, Trevor Plouffe!) Also, Josh Willingham. These results were surprising. It will be truly interesting to see if either of these guys keeps up the pace in the second half, mainly because of how weird it would be for Killebrew and either Willingham or Plouffe (or both) to be mentioned in the same breath.
Last player to hit 40: Willie Stargell, 1973 (44)
Who can do it (preseason): Pedro Alvarez, Josh Bell
Team Games: 85
Andrew McCutchen: 18 homeruns in 81 games = 35 in 158 games
Pedro Alvarez: 16 homeruns in 76 games = 36 in 153 games
I follow an inordinate amount of Pirates fans and writers on Twitter and one of them pointed out that McCutchen went the first 25 games of the season without a homerun. If you take the pace he’s been on since (18 homeruns in 56 games) and carry that out over the remaining 77 games, he is expected to hit 25 more homeruns the rest of the season, which would give him 43 overall. That seems less weird than the pairings mentioned above.
Last player to hit 40: Cecil Fielder, 1991 (44)
Who can do it (preseason): Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera
Team Games: 86
Miguel Cabrera: 18 homeruns in 86 games = 34 in 162 games
Prince Fielder: 15 homeruns in 86 games = 28 in 162 games
The only thing surprising here is Fielder’s low homerun total. Cabrera is going deep at his usual pace – in six of his first nine seasons, he hit between 33 and 38 homeruns – and both players continue to be exceedingly durable, tying for the league lead in games played. I still say they both have a shot at putting up huge numbers if they can get into the type of groove where each one pushes the other.
Stanton was looking pretty good to push forty…until the news last week that he needed knee surgery and will miss 4-6 weeks. While that’s not a huge chunk of time to be out of action, it will likely take enough of a bite out of his final homerun numbers to keep him around thirty. Still, there’s a sense of inevitability with regards to Stanton and the 40-homer plateau. Someday, Giancarlo. Someday.
Last player to hit 40: Rafael Palmeiro, 1998 (43)
Who can do it (preseason): Mark Reynolds
Team Games: 85 games
Adam Jones: 20 homeruns in 85 games = 38 in 162 games
Chris Davis: 14 homeruns in 72 games = 29 in 149 games
I’m not sure that Jones can keep up this pace. I also said the same thing about Barry Bonds around the midway point of the 2001 season, but that might be irrelevant.
Reddick is putting up awesome power numbers in Oakland. Meanwhile, Andrew Bailey has yet to throw a pitch for the Red Sox after injuring the UCL in his thumb and Nick Cafardo is reporting that the Red Sox are looking to trade Ryan Sweeney (who has become my wife’s rebound guy following the breakup of her longtime relationship with Tim Wakefield). That trade has gone well so far.
Last player to hit 40: Alex Rodriguez, 2000 (41)
Who can do it (preseason): Jesus Montero
Team Games: 87
Justin Smoak: 11 homeruns in 79 games = 21 in 154 games
Kyle Seager: 10 homeruns in 80 games = 19 in 155 games
Montero is actually tied for third on the team with eight homeruns, evidence that nobody in Seattle is hitting right now. I wouldn’t bet my life on Smoak hitting 29 bombs in the last 75 games of the season. (That’s the type of comment that could come back to bite me someday.)
Last player to hit 40: Todd Helton, 2001 (49)
Who can do it (preseason): Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki
Team Games: 85
Carlos Gonzalez: 17 homeruns in 78 games = 34 in 155 games
Wilin Rosario: 14 homeruns in 58 games = 33 in 135 games
Tulowitzki has eight homeruns on the year, but the perennial MVP candidate has missed 38 games thus far. Rosario might not even get to thirty because of frequent days off, but that’s quite a pace he’s on right now.
Los Angeles Angels
Last player to hit 40: Troy Glaus, 2001 (41)
Who can do it (preseason): Albert Pujols
Team Games: 86
Mark Trumbo: 22 homeruns in 77 games = 44 in 153 games
Albert Pujols: 14 homeruns in 85 games = 27 in 161 games
I didn’t even include Trumbo before the season started, believing everything I read about him not getting playing time with the arrival of Pujols. Instead, he’s seeing action at the corner outfield spots and hitting bombs at a pretty good pace. He even has some room to slow up a bit and still get to forty.
|1.||Kansas City Royals||Never||–||—-|
|2.||Minnesota Twins||Harmon Killebrew||49||1970|
|3.||Pittsburgh Pirates||Willie Stargell||44||1973|
|4.||Detroit Tigers||Cecil Fielder||44||1991|
|5.||Florida Marlins||Gary Sheffield||42||1996|
|6.||Baltimore Orioles||Rafael Palmeiro||43||1998|
|7.||Oakland Athletics||Jason Giambi||43||2000|
|8.||Seattle Mariners||Alex Rodriguez||41||2000|
|9.||Colorado Rockies||Todd Helton||49||2001|
|10.||Los Angeles Angels||Troy Glaus||41||2001|
|11.||Los Angeles Dodgers||Adrian Beltre||48||2004|
|12.||San Francisco Giants||Barry Bonds||45||2004|
|13.||Chicago Cubs||Derrek Lee||46||2005|
|14.||Texas Rangers||Mark Teixeira||43||2005|
|15.||Atlanta Braves||Andruw Jones||41||2006|
|16.||Boston Red Sox||David Ortiz||54||2006|
|17.||Chicago White Sox||Jermaine Dye||44||2006|
|18.||Cleveland Indians||Travis Hafner||42||2006|
|19.||Houston Astros||Lance Berkman||45||2006|
|20.||New York Mets||Carlos Beltran||41||2006|
|21.||Washington Nationals||Alfonso Soriano||46||2006|
|22.||Cincinnati Reds||Adam Dunn||40||2007|
|23.||Tampa Bay Rays||Carlos Pena||46||2007|
|24.||Philadelphia Phillies||Ryan Howard||45||2009|
|25.||Arizona Diamondbacks||Mark Reynolds||44||2009|
|26.||San Diego Padres||Adrian Gonzalez||40||2009|
|27.||Milwaukee Brewers||Prince Fielder||46||2009|
|28.||St. Louis Cardinals||Albert Pujols||42||2010|
|29.||Toronto Blue Jays||Jose Bautista||43||2011|
|30.||New York Yankees||Curtis Granderson||41|| 2011|