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A Pinch Hit from James Strapp, who has done a couple of these for us before:


I took my boys to the Jays game last Friday. In that game the Jays’ first hit was a Bautista home run in the fourth inning. After eight innings, they had a total of four hits, with two of them being home runs. No starter has a batting average over .286. All they seem to be able to hit is home runs.

Well, that got me thinking. What team has had the highest percentage of their hits be home runs? And where do the 2010 Blue Jays stand?

The results show that the Jays are both potential record breakers and dramatic (and frustrating) anomalies. As of August 31, 201 of the Jays’ 1,127 hits this year have been home runs. That’s a HR% of 17.8%.

Turns out, if the Jays keep this pace up in September, they will set a record.


Using the Lahman Baseball Database, I calculated similar home run percentages for all teams across the years. The results are charted above. The next closest team to the Jays is the 2005 Texas Rangers, who homered in 17.0% of their hits. The Rangers’ 260 homers came within four home runs of matching the all-time record for team homers in a season, set by the Seattle Mariners in 1997.

The Jays are probably not going to come close to that total number. They are on pace for about 246 team home runs. That would put them somewhere between 4th and 12th all time (there are a few teams with between 242 and 249 home runs). But by getting fewer hits inside the park, they may set the all-time HR% record.

Here’re the ten teams with the highest percentage of their hits being home runs in a season, including the Jays' numbers to date. 

There are some interesting teams here: three division winners and one wild-card winner. All but the famous ’61 Yankees are from the last 15 years.

So is hitting a high percentage of home runs good? It is for most teams. While the correlation between runs scored and HR% does not appear as high as runs and total home runs, as the diagram below shows, there is a general correlation.


What’s striking is how much of an anomaly the 2010 Jays are. They’re way off by themselves with the highest HR%, but only managing 4.7 runs per game this season. No other team stands out like this on the bottom of the diagram. If fact, the 2010 Jays have the lowest ratio of runs scored per game to home runs ever, dramatically so. Frustrating isn’t it.

The Blue Jays’ run for the All-Time Season HR% record—something to watch and ponder for the rest of the year.


Thanks, James!

Pinch Hit: Are the Jays an All-Time Record Home Run Team? | 15 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Magpie - Friday, September 03 2010 @ 03:46 AM EDT (#221912) #
I think this is just fascinating. And I assume the next thing we'd like to know is the degree to which individual hitters are responsible. I'm here to help!:

                     H   HR    PCT.
J. P. Arencibia     5    2    .400
Jose Bautista    125   43    .344
Jeremy Reed     3    1    .333
Aaron Hill    93   21    .226
Alex Gonzalez     85   17    .200
Edwin Encarnacion 68   13    .191
TEAM   1132  202    .178
Vernon Wells    131   23    .176
Adam Lind     111   19    .171
Travis Snider     48    8    .167
John McDonald    30    5    .167
Randy Ruiz     6    1    .167
John Buck    91   15    .165
Dewayne Wise     19    3    .158
Lyle Overbay     108   16    .148
Jose Molina    36    4    .111
Fred Lewis     108    8    .074
Yunel Escobar     42    3    .071
Mike McCoy    13    0    .000
Jarrett Hoffpauir    6    0    .000
Nick Green    2    0    .000
Shaun Marcum    1    0    .000
Wells and Lind are both below the team average - but both are above the level of the second team on this list. And so are the guys right behind them, Buck, Snider, and... McDonald?

Okay. Do you think John McDonald, who has hit exactly half of his career HRs these last two seasons (in less than 300 of his almost 2000 career PApps) is wishing he'd met Cito Gaston ten years ago? McDonald says that, at the age of 35, he's finally been learning how to hit:

The last year and a half, I've been learning how to pull the ball the correct way, where you can get a little more carry on your ball rather than hitting balls that are dying as they're reaching the right fielder. I think the type of hitter that I've been, on the teams that I was on, they needed somebody like myself to stay inside the ball, to hit inside the runner, to make sure you hit the ball on the ground on a hit-and-run. I had to learn how to pull the ball.

Gaston is amazed that no one ever taught him this before. With McDonald's well-known defensive skills, if he'd even been able to manage an OPS+ of... oh, let's say 85 or 90 - he would have earned himself an awful lot of money these past ten years.

Oh well. You don't get a do-over of a career.
John Northey - Friday, September 03 2010 @ 09:24 AM EDT (#221914) #
It does seem that Gaston is darn good with certain types of hitters. McDonald's last 2 years are 1st and 3rd in his career for OPS+ (not counting his 9 PA season). Almost all of it is due to Slg%. 384 last year, 496 this year, with 344 being his previous peak.

Right now 2010 looks to be the first time he'll have a positive Runs Batting (based on WAR at B-R). His overall value will still be lower than in 2007 when he fielded at an amazing level (18 runs worth) but a 1.1 WAR is worth more than his entire 2 year contract. FanGraphs also has his offense at +1.5 (0.4 was his previous best, in those 9 PA in 2000) but they have a lower fielding portion thus his WAR is at 0.7 and net value at $2.7 million - again almost paying off that contract we all felt was too much in the winter.

I think the Jays really do need to keep Cito involved with the team - talking with hitters regularly during the season, sitting down with anyone who seems hopeless or on the edge of being let go. A walk machine like Olerud was should not be exposed to him, but guys like McDonald & Bautista (low walk, high potential power) thrive under him (see guys like Bell and Carter and White and even Gruber & Sprague in the past).
Greg - Friday, September 03 2010 @ 09:31 AM EDT (#221915) #
I do agree with you on the Cito's type of hitter, but "low walk-high power" doesn't seem to describe Bautista.  He's got 84 walks right now, and with a career BA/OBP of .245/.342 he has a very high isolated walk rate, or whatever you want to call it.  I'd say he's a low AVERAGE-high power hitter.
bpoz - Friday, September 03 2010 @ 09:33 AM EDT (#221916) #
Excellent article. Very valuable info Magpie.

I remember Cito saying in spring training that this team would hit a lot of HRs. He went on to name 6-8 players that could hit 20HRs. I count 5 players so far which includes A Lind (19) and A Gon 17+4 with Atlanta. Overbay (16) is a longshot but a healthy EE & T Snider would have been pretty good bets. Sooner rather than later T Snider IMO will hit 20 HR consistently.

"I THINK" Cito went out on a limb with that statement, I mostly believed him though. So when he says Fred Lewis has power, I absolutely believe him.

How many multi HR games did Buck have? I know that he had 1 game with 3 HRs. At age 30 and with his size he could have maybe 3 big HR years in the next 6 years. It would probably be with another team most likely.
I would like peoples opinion on the following question. " Only JPA has a chance at 500AB this year, all our other full season team's catchers will have under 300ABs. WHY?" To me if healthy they all should be getting 400-450ABs, some at DH, just to develop their hitting skills. In full season C Perez with 300x3 is further ahead hitting wise with 450x2. Right?
Jonny German - Friday, September 03 2010 @ 09:56 AM EDT (#221918) #
Great article!
I thought I'd look into the OBP situation, as poor OBP is the obvious suspect for the team not scoring as many runs as you'd expect with so many home runs. It's been my impression that this is a team that on paper shoud not be terrible at getting on base. Here are the 2010 and career numbers for the regulars. The Team value is calculated as a weighted average.





Aaron Hill 484 .280 .328 -.048
Adam Lind 523 .285 .323 -.038
Edwin Encarnacion 306 .310 .338 -.028
Lyle Overbay 497 .334 .360 -.026
Yunel Escobar 164 .344 .366 -.022
Fred Lewis 461 .330 .348 -.018
Travis Snider 221 .303 .320 -.017
--- Team --- 4720



Vernon Wells 531 .318 .328 -.010
Alex Gonzalez 348 .296 .295 .001
John Buck 347 .308 .300 .008
John McDonald 122 .292 .277 .015
Jose Molina 156 .316 .281 .035
Jose Bautista 560 .386 .342 .044
Off by 11 points of OBP is not as severe as I would have expected. There is a strong argument to be made that I should have used pre-2010 OBPs rather than career OBP. League average OBP is .329, the Jays are at .313.
While I was at it I checked out the same thing for Slugging. League average SLG is .409, the Jays are at .454.





Jose Bautista 465 .624 .447 .177
John McDonald 115 .496 .328 .168
Alex Gonzalez 328 .497 .403 .094
John Buck 326 .488 .418 .070
Jose Molina 142 .366 .335 .031
Vernon Wells 490 .502 .473 .029
--- Team --- 4262



Travis Snider 202 .436 .432 .004
Fred Lewis 412 .420 .420 .000
Edwin Encarnacion 276 .446 .448 -.002
Yunel Escobar 147 .388 .402 -.014
Lyle Overbay 437 .428 .447 -.019
Aaron Hill 440 .400 .429 -.029
Adam Lind 482 .409 .471 -.062
There's something encouraging in these numbers: besides Wells, all of the batters slugging higher than expected fall into these categories:
a) Role players
b) Won't be here next year
c) The Incredible New & Improved José Bautista
Which is to say that while there's solid reason to believe that 2011 will see better OBPs from several regulars (Hill, Lind, Escobar, Snider, possibly Wells, and Encarnacion & Overbay if they return), the same is not true of expecting the slugging to get a lot worse. Bautista will surely regress across the board, but it's safe to say that his career numbers are not a good read on what type of player he is today. Wells might always be an unknown, at this stage of his career it seems he's capable of performing at an all-star level or close to replacement level in any given season. Roughly:
2001 Average
2002 Average
2003 All Star
2004 Average
2005 Average
2006 All Star
2007 Replacement
2008 Average
2009 Replacement
2010 All Star
Magpie - Friday, September 03 2010 @ 10:19 AM EDT (#221919) #
A walk machine like Olerud was should not be exposed to him

Fred McGriff seemed to survive the experience. Carlos Delgado.

If Gaston were coming back, I'd be sorely tempted to see if he could make anything of... oh, Brandon Wood? Maybe even Jeff Francoeur? I mean, if John McDonald can approach offensive competence....
Parker - Friday, September 03 2010 @ 12:05 PM EDT (#221925) #
Wasn't the issue with Olerud not about aggressiveness vs. plate discipline, but rather that Gaston was monkeying with Olerud's swing to try to turn him into a "traditional" home run hitter when he was such a successful line drive hitter?

It still makes me sad remembering how Olerud was let go so that the decaying corpse of Joe Carter could continue to get at-bats.
John Northey - Friday, September 03 2010 @ 12:48 PM EDT (#221930) #
Olerud was a weird case here. His stats as a Jay are better than anywhere else except when he was a Met - but his 3 years there were ages 28-30 so those should be his best years.

From 28-33 he had his 2nd to 6th best OPS+ seasons. Namely right after he left he had a 6 year stretch with 5 very solid years and one as good as his last here. However, age 34/35/36 was a drop to sub-110 OPS+ land - hitting 268/363/393 and ending his career.

I've always viewed the Olerud trade as the day Gord Ash jumped the shark and should've been replaced. Trading a high OBP guy in his prime for a mediocre prospect and sending tons of cash was just dumb. Doing it so Joe Carter and his sub-100 OPS+ could play everyday, along with trading for Orlando Merced (just before dumping Olerud) blows ones mind (Craig Wilson among others went to Pittsburgh). If you had to keep Carter in the lineup then stick him in LF and let Olerud and Delgado share DH/1B. The outfield at the start of 1997 was Green/Nixon/Merced - it would eventually see Cruz Jr and Stewart join it.

Sigh. What a waste the late 90's were for the Jays. That outfield of Green/Stewart/Cruz could've been special. The infield had Delgado/A-Gon with 2B/3B a bit of a mess but if Ash had thought it through Alomar would've stuck around at 2B (he refused to negotiate pre-1995 offseason as he thought prices would go down). Eventually Tony Fernandez returned and made 3B a solid spot. The rotation in 1997 had (at times) Roger Clemens, Pat Hentgen, Chris Carpenter, Juan Guzman, Kelvim Escobar (OK, he was stuck in the pen that year) and Woody Williams (another ugly trade). All 6 able to be top pitchers. What a waste.

This is why I'm so happy to see AA talk about scouts and coaches. You need top flight coaching to get the most from your guys. You also need top scouts to catch when a guy is about to collapse or burst onto the scene.
Magpie - Friday, September 03 2010 @ 12:48 PM EDT (#221931) #
Olerud was a tremendously successful hitter for one season - 1993 - and then the pitchers adjusted. And Olerud didn't. He was still hitting for a good average (.297, .291) and drawing walks. But his power began disappearing. By 1995, he was down to 8 HRs, and he slugged a not-so-mighty .404. He needed to do something else with the inside pitch. What he had been doing didn't work anymore.
Magpie - Friday, September 03 2010 @ 12:53 PM EDT (#221932) #
Escobar wasn't really stuck in the pen in 1997. For starters, he was pitching for Dunedin when the season began. He pitched a little there, moved up to Knoxville, and got a major league audition at the end of June. He had a couple of good relief outings and within two weeks Gaston - you know, the guy who doesn't trust young players - had made the 21 year old from AA into his closer.
John Northey - Friday, September 03 2010 @ 12:58 PM EDT (#221934) #
Thanks Magpie - forgot all about how Escobar came up that year for the first time and how great he seemed in the pen. In truth it probably would've been better had he sucked as a closer as they might've left him as a starter and his career would've been better.

As to Olerud's power - if you get on base nearly 40% of the time I can live with low power even at 1B/DH.
Magpie - Friday, September 03 2010 @ 02:54 PM EDT (#221942) #
For no truly pressing reason (well, primarily because my Excel skills need the practise. Everything is different in Excel 2007, and a recent hard drive disaster wiped out 15 years of accumulated baseball data, spreadsheets, chart templates, etc etc...) Anyway, I decided to make a graphic of Olerud's seasonal platoon splits: Photobucket
bpoz - Saturday, September 04 2010 @ 10:21 AM EDT (#221958) #
Interesting and deep analysis of offense.

I don't suppose there is an answer for this but "Great 2009 and Bad 2010 for Hill and Lind" is my take. But why? Is it everyone has their very good and very bad seasons. If so can I reasonably expect about 25HRs per year from each?

This is an accepted concept in baseball I believe. The guy hitting before a great hitter gets good pitches to hit. Recently Manny joined the White Sox and 2 of his new team mates said something to this effect. Manny got a single or walked and the next guy Konerko I believe hit a HR and gave Manny's presence in the lineup some credit for that.

I remember 1993 and WAMCO !!!! Tony Fernandez was the next guy in the lineup too.

I also remember a Dodgers team that had incredible pitching and horrible offense. The pitching was the best in the NL by far and the offense was close to the worst In the NL. I could never figure out how a Big $ team could screw up like that.
snider - Saturday, September 04 2010 @ 11:15 AM EDT (#221959) #
In the HR vs Runs per Game chart, what does the upper left corner represent? Looks like some teams scored 9 and 10 runs a game but that can't be right.
Magpie - Saturday, September 04 2010 @ 03:03 PM EDT (#221964) #
Looks like some teams scored 9 and 10 runs a game but that can't be right.

Those will be some 19th century teams, and I expect most of them will be in the immediate aftermath of the pitchers moving back to 60 feet after throwing from about 50 feet up through 1892.
Pinch Hit: Are the Jays an All-Time Record Home Run Team? | 15 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.