Sunday, March 31, 2013

"BARREN MONTH" ENDS...TWO-YEAR HR LEADERS

A new low for posts-in-a-month, we are still cranking on our Don Murray film...will provide more info about it and the web site that will shortly be up for it, in case you are interested. Spring training is best spent in a daze anyway, and this year you could call it a blur (our old nickname at the Post Office, in fact).

April will be better, or at least more plentiful (and when we say that please remember T.S. Eliot's line about April in Four Quartets). But to get back in practice, and to provide a soup├žon of historical perspective with which to goose you into the 2013 season, kindly peruse the following chart, which shows the 55-year data pattern for most homers hit over a two-year span.

Note that in 1973-74 the two-year leader hit fewer HRs than Mark McGwire hit in 1998 (or, of course, Barry Bonds three years later...Barry would never speak to us again if we didn't remember that he holds  the record that's keeping both recent record holders out of the Hall of Fame). Ignore 1981-82, of course, because of the strike season (the "7-10 split" season known as Bowie Kuhn's Folly). But note that in 1988-89, while both Big Mac and Barry Big Head were in their formative major league years, the two-year HR lead again skidded down to just 70.

As Bill James noted, we're getting back to "normal" in terms of most offensive numbers (except strikeouts, which are offensive in a different sense of the word...). That spike (shown in the area shaded in black) is spectacular (and remains highly suspicious to some). The 2011-12 leader, Curtis Granderson, had "only" 84 HRs over the two years in question. That's actually below the 55-year average for the two-year leader, which is 90.

Grandy is not likely to be the two-year HR leader for 2012-13, but he had a ten-HR lead over his nearest rivals (Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera). Our money, if we were wagering it, would be on Giancarlo Stanton.

As we write this, the season has already begun, and last year's lowly Astros, winners of just 55 games in 2012, are alone in first place as April Fools' Day beckons to us. Justin Maxwell, tools player quasi-extraordinaire, gave us a thrill by slapping out two triples (!!) to help the league-swappers knock off their new in-state rivals (the Texas Rangers) by a score of 8-2.

We hope Bo Porter will not expect this to happen too often, but--hey, we'd take it, too.