Over on the Giants' site, Bruce Bochy told Chris Haft that he expects the Giants to hit a lot more home runs this year than they did last year:
"Make no mistake about it: I like home runs. I like power," Bochy said. "I do think we'll hit more home runs this year, to be honest."
Yeah. Dingers are sweet. I like them, especially when they're off Mat Latos or Max Scherzer or Cliff Lee. And don't forget about the dingers off Mat Latos! But whenever a Giants player hits them, they're pretty swell. And there will be more of them because it would be nearly impossible for them to hit fewer.
It's not that the 2012 Giants were some historically power-bereft team. Of the 130 different Giants teams, the 2012 club ranked 74th all-time. And they weren't just ahead of the deadball-era teams, either; those special, special 2008 Giants hit even fewer home runs (94) than the 2012 Giants did (103). And considering that the average NL team hit 11 more homers in 2008, the display from Jose Castillo and company was even more impressive.
Of the San Francisco Giants teams, the 2012 team had the sixth-lowest total, so this isn't to suggest they were just ducky in the power category. But their problem wasn't just with hitting home runs, it was hitting home runs at home. Here are the 10 lowest homer totals from Giants teams since moving to San Francisco, along with the percentage of those homers they hit at home:
|Year||Home runs||Percentage hit at home|
|1981 (strike year)||63||44%|
The worst part about the 1980 Giants: They didn't win the World Series. But they had the same kind of drastic park splits that the '12 Giants had. And it was a blip. Even though the power didn't return the next season, they hit more home runs at Candlestick. The '82 Giants hit 41 percent of their homers in Candlestick, and the '83 Giants hit 51 percent of their total homers there. Everything mellowed out.
That's what will happen with the 2013 Giants. If you just want the numbers for the Giants since Mays Field opened, here you go:
|Year||Home HR||Away HR||Percentage hit at home|
So you have two options:
1. Believe that somewhere between 2010 and 2011, AT&T Park suddenly became the least homer-friendly park in existence.
2. Figure it's all just sample-size chicanery.
I'm going with #2, myself.
And that's the end of that story.
EXCEPT HOLD ON, FOLKS.
Dave Righetti is probably a wizard. There are studies that confirm this. Over the years, Giants pitchers have allowed far fewer home runs than expected. It would seem that there is an organizational philosophy in place when it comes to pitching in AT&T Park, and it's working. It's not just the starters, either. Relievers allow fewer homers, too.
What if, with each passing year, with each defecting free agent, Righetti's secrets are spread around just a little bit more. "Oh, here's how you should pitch hitters in AT&T Park," Joe Martinez would say to his new teammates in Arizona. "What you gotta do is ...", says Matt Palmer when he's trying to fit in to the Padres' clubhouse. "Wait, it's four balls for a walk now? Since when?", yelled Jonathan Sanchez about halfway through last season. And maybe, just maybe, there's now a widely known, commonly used method to pitching in a park with a big right-center power alley.
Nope, still going with sample size. But it makes a feller think. And while the Giants aren't guaranteed to hit more homers, I'd put down a sawbuck that they'll hit a larger percentage of their total home runs in San Francisco.