The Los Angeles Dodgers hit seven home runs against the Reds on Monday, the dummies. Now their dinger muscles will be sore when the Giants come into town on Tuesday. What a bunch of maroons.
The San Francisco Giants have hit just seven home runs all year. All of them came in blowout losses.
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Okay, that might not be quite right. They’ve hit more than seven home runs this year. At least 20. Possibly 30. Most of them were very exciting! But the larger point — that they sure don’t hit many — stands. Brian Dozier of the Twins has hit 14 homers in 36 games since the second half started. The Giants’ team leader for home runs is Brandon Belt, who has hit 14 all season.
You don’t need to be told that AT&T Park has a lot to do with this. There have been just 96 home runs hit there combined all season (40 by the Giants, 56 by their opponents), so we have to be careful not to dinger-shame the Giants too much. There are some things that are out of the team’s control.
At the same time, this might be just the sixth time since the Giants moved to San Francisco that the team doesn’t have a single 20-homer hitter. Belt needs five more, and he’s the only Giants player who has hit five home runs in any month this year. He can still get to 20. But the odds are starting to drop.
The difference with this season, though, is that it’s a homer-happy season for almost everyone else. Home runs are up substantially around the league, and the ball might be to blame, but the effects haven’t trickled down to the Giants. Belt’s total of 14 home runs is remarkably low when adjusting for the average NL team — just over 10 percent of the average team total. That would be one of the lowest marks in team history:
|Year||Giants HR leader||Leader's HR||NL average HR by team||Giants team leader as percentage of league average team|
|2006||Barry Bonds/Ray Durham||26||178||.15|
I have no idea how to phrase that elegantly, and I’m tired of trying, so ... uh, you do it. The point is to show that the Giants’ team leader this year has far fewer homers than you might expect when you look at the average team in the NL. I'll bet there's a German word for it.
This one isn’t as clumsy. Here’s the Giants’ home run total as a percentage of the league-average team’s home run total:
|Year||Giants HR leader||Leader's HR||NL average HR by team||Giants home runs||Giants home runs as a percentage of league average team|
|2006||Barry Bonds/Ray Durham||26||178||163||.92|
|1984||Chili Davis/Jeffrey Leonard||21||107||112||1.05|
The full table was included to make you more impressed with the Giants of the '60s. Also, Ray Durham! Also also, the 2012 Giants ended up doing just fine, you know.
The Giants have hit fewer home runs than the league-average team just 19 out of their 59 seasons. Ten of those seasons have come in the last 17 years, since the Giants moved to AT&T Park. So, yeah, the park is a big deal when it comes to suppressing home runs.
Still, this is something of a historically dinger-free team for a franchise with an amazing dinger legacy. How rare is it not to have even one 20 home run hitter? Pretty rare. And don’t forget that they haven’t had a 30-homer hitter since Barry Bonds in 2004. Only the Royals can say the same.
The Giants are third in the NL in on-base percentage, but they’re just sixth in runs. The dearth of dingers is a big reason why, as they’re 14th in the league in home runs. They won’t finish last (thanks, Braves!), and they won’t finish with fewer than 100 like they did in 2008, but it would certainly be a lot cooler if they decided to hit more home runs.
Repeated for emphasis: It would certainly be a lot cooler if the Giants decided to hit more home runs. Maybe if we all close our eyes and wish really, really hard. Also, don't think about how four percent of the team's home runs were hit by pitchers, and that will help you feel better, too.