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Mike Yastrzemski has a chance at setting a very strange franchise record

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Apologies for the clickbait headline, but it requires some explaining.

Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It is August 15. The San Francisco Giants have 41 games remaining.

41 games to try and make the playoffs, sure, but also 41 games to set in stone all the stats - good, bad, weird, depressing, hilarious - that we’ll spend the offseason gazing at.

And here’s one that could happen: Mike Yastrzemski could lead the team in home runs.

As of Thursday morning, here’s the list of Giants home run leaders:

Kevin Pillar: 15
Evan Longoria: 14
Pablo Sandoval: 14
Mike Yastrzemski: 13
Brandon Belt: 12

Yastrzemski has some work to do, but he’s sporting a dramatically higher home run rate than Pillar and Belt, and a notably higher rate than Longoria. And Sandoval is injured.

Which means it’s a distinct possibility that Yaz will lead the team in home runs in 2019.

And that would be hilarious. Why? Because Yastrzemski has 256 plate appearances in 68 games. And, I repeat, it’s August 15.

Fangraphs projects Baby Yaz to have 110 more plate appearances this year, which would run his total to 356. That is not a number of plate appearances that a team’s home run leader should have. That’s a painfully low number of plate appearances for a team’s home run leader.

Since coming to San Francisco in 1958, the Giants have had only eight seasons in which their home run leader had fewer than 500 plate appearances (ignoring strike-shortened seasons)

Here are those eight times:

432 plate appearances: Candy Maldonado, 1986 (18 home runs)
434 plate appearances: Barry Bonds, 1999 (34 home runs)
451 plate appearances: Brandon Belt, 2017 (18 home runs)
455 plate appearances: Mike Ivie, 1979 (27 plate appearances)
466 plate appearances: Pablo Sandoval, 2011 (23 home runs)
477 plate appearances: Barry Bonds, 2007 (28 home runs)
493 plate appearances: Barry Bonds, 2006 (26 home runs)
494 plate appearances: Gary Matthews, 1975 (12 home runs)

Even in the 1981 strike-shortened season, Jack Clark had 437 plate appearances en route to a team-high 17 dingers. And in the strike-shortened 1994, Matt Williams somehow had 43 big flies in 483 plate appearances.

Yastrzemski has a very real chance of becoming the first player with fewer than 400 plate appearances to lead the San Francisco Giants in home runs. He has a chance to have the lowest number of plate appearances for a Giants home run leader by a wholly comfortable margin.

That would be as hilarious as it would be depressing. Make of it what you will.

Thanks to user lucecooler for pointing out that Williams’ amazing year was also strike-shortened.