Earlier in the season, I wrote a piece looking at all the candidates the Giants had to hit 30 dingers for the first time since 2004. At the time, Brandon Belt was on pace to hit 37 dingers and Evan Longoria was on pace for 27. If Longoria heated up or even if Belt cooled off, a Giant would get there. They could do it, I thought. It’s not that hard. Rougned Odor hit 30 homers last year and he had a wRC+ of 58. Max Muncy has already hit 31 homers this year and he’s a bench player.
But of course, things went awry. Belt had appendicitis and he never looked the same. Longoria had broken boneitis and looked worse than before. Hopes were tempered, and Bryan wrote a piece wondering when the Giants would have another 25-home run hitter.
If we project out Belt’s season to 550 plate appearances total (he’s at 262 now, so 288 more), that means it’s possible he will hit at least 98 home run-type balls (by exit velocity) and about 31 of those will be barreled. He’d need only 13 of those to actually be home runs to hit 25 on the season. It feels almost assured, but that’s why they play the game.
Turns out it was not assured. Belt has hit two homers since that article was published over two months ago. Now, it’s the first week of September, and I am here to ask: Will a Giant even hit 20 home runs this year?
It would be a lousy consolation prize considering two Giants were at least half way there less than a third of the way through the season. But hey, no Giant hit 20 homers in 2017 or 2016 so that would be an improvement.
It also seems like a bit of a longshot.
The Giants were the last team to have a 15-homer player, and they’re the only ones without a 20-homer player. Think about that. The Marlins, Royals, and Orioles are all unspeakably awful baseball teams, but even they have at least one guy who has hit a ball over the fence 20 times. The Yankees have six players with at least 20 dingers.
Now, the Giants as a team aren’t the worst in the majors at hitting dingers. They’ve outhomered the Tigers and Marlins at least, but the Giants have put their smattering of dingers into several baskets whereas Detroit and Miami have allocated their dingers in slightly fewer baskets.
At present, no Giant is on pace to hit 20 homers. PECOTA projects Longoria, Gorkys Hernández, and Belt to all end the season with 17. With 22 games left in the season, Longoria and Hernández would have to hit five home runs to get to 20. Belt would have to hit six. Brandon Crawford would have to hit 8. No other current Giant has hit double digits.
For players of literally any other team, this wouldn’t be a problem. Other players hit five home runs in three weeks all the time. Kendrys Morales just homered in seven straight games, and he’s not even that good.
But for those 22 games the Giants will mostly have to contend with AT&T Park. They have one more game at Coors and they take trip to Milwaukie which is a slight hitter’s park. Other than that, it’s pitcher’s parks all the way down with their only other trips to St. Louis and San Diego.
Really, the best hope is for Andrew McCutchen to pound out five more at Yankee Stadium because that stadium is modeled after a park that was built when humans were much smaller and more tubercular. When I was 12 years old, my little league team played on a field that was 309 to left and right field. Yankee Stadium is 314 to each field so fully-grown dudes only have to hit the ball five feet farther than pre-teens to get a dinger.
The odds are apparently against any Giant cracking 20 dingers, but the good news is that none of this matters. It’s all just arbitrary milestones in a forgettable season. Still, it would be nice for the Giants to have just one stinking guy hit a fair amount of dingers because everyone else is doing it.