Brandon Crawford got Splash Hit #99 in the final week of April, and afterwards, it prompted Angelina Martin of NBC Sports Bay Area to wonder which of the San Francisco Giants would hit #100. Mike Yastrzemski, Thairo Estrada, Michael Conforto, and Joc Pederson were all asked, and you can click the link to see their answers. Let’s try to predict on our own.
Last night’s win felt so empowering to me — a lowly sports blogger — because it felt like Doug and I on our podcast, Giants Chroncast, and Grant for The Athletic successfully negged the Giants into a victory. That’s absolutely not what happened, but I’m choosing not to shake the feeling but instead chase it. I’m saying today that there’s something in the air. Tonight we will see #100! Or, if not, then some time this week!
Zack Wheeler is not a pitcher that gives up a lot of home runs! Just 109 in 1,231.2 major league innings pitched — a mark of 0.8 per 9 innings. FanGraphs measures out his career flyball rate at just 31%, the 66th-best mark in baseball among starting pitchers since 2013; and this season, despite a nearly career-high 35% FB rate, his 4.8% home runs on flyballs is 8th-best in baseball, 4th in the NL. He is not a guy who gives up home runs.
... but there’s something in the air tonight, don’t you think?...
The history of Splash Hits at Oracle Park is pretty straightforward. The top five Splash Hit getters as of 1:30pm on Tuesday, May 16, 2023:
Barry Bonds, 35
Brandon Belt, 10
Pablo Sandoval, 8
Denard Span, 5
Mike Yastrzemski, 5
Joc Pederson is kinda-sorta tied with Yaz with 5 Splash Hits, but two of those have come with other teams: one with the Dodgers, one with the Cubs. Then there are Brandon Crawford and LaMonte Wade Jr. right after with 4 Splash Hits each.
I guess I should take a moment to be a little emotional and personal about how fun and cool Splash Hits are, even when they are hit by the opposing team — sometimes. Sometimes, it sucks; but, McCovey Cove and Splash Hits are the Giants’ iconography for a national audience — they’re even part of the logo for this very site!
[Here’s where I’ll note that Michael Conforto got his one Splash Hit when he was with the Mets, in a game pitched by Connor Menez on July 21, 2019. That game ended with a walk-off home run by... Mike Yastrzemski.]
It’s a little nutty that there have been just 99 Splash Hits by the Giants (and another 54 by visiting teams) in 1,833 regular season games. The rate of Splash Hits during the Bonds years (~5.6/season) certainly skewed expectations — then again, so does 309’ to right field.
Zack Wheeler hasn’t allowed a single home run in three MLB stadiums: Coors Field (1 GS, 4 IP), the Great American Ballpark (3 GS, 19 IP), and Oracle Park (3 GS, 17.2 IP). He’s allowed just one home run against the current Giants roster. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
The Giants are due.
Their success at hitting flyballs that become home runs is still near the top of the league (3rd in MLB, 2nd in NL). Then there’s this:
UPDATED HOME RUN TOTALS— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogers) May 16, 2023
Pretty bonkers home run total update for the 2023 season. Through the same number of weeks.
2023: 16,649 HRs, 2.25 Per Game
2022: 14,452 HRs, 1.99 PG
2021: 10,744 HRs, 1.71 PG
2019: 10,630 HRs, 1.46 PG
He’s never faced LaMonte Wade Jr. before. The one current Giant he did give up a homer to? You guessed it: J.D. Davis. To right field.
Yes, there’s a part of me that really wants this to happen. Or Thairo Estrada. Or Casey Schmitt, for some reason. A righty dropping a dinger into the Cove would be an incredible moment. The inverse of Bonds! It would also really be something if Brandon Crawford did it — a nice capper to his Giants career (unless the Giants go on a run and win it all this year lolololol!... unless?? no, no lolololol!).
Brett Wisely, Blake Sabol, Bryce Johnson, and even Joey Bart as the surprise righty wouldn’t be out of line with the history of Splash Hits. Felipe Crespo, Tyler Colvin, Scooter Gennett — these are the names of heroes, forged in the fire of one memorably wet moment.
All that said, I think it’ll be Yaz. Who do you think it will be and will it happen this week?