Good read from Geoff Baker on the need for power hitting in modern baseball.
There is no dout about the Corner Power historical trend in baseball. In my view, the Corner Power imperative is driven by these laws of baseball physics:
MAJOR LAW: You want good hitters at the corners.
MINOR LAW: If you don't have tough RBI men, your chest is going to collapse. Somewhere in that 162-game stretch.
MINOR LAW: If you don't have tough RBI men, you get pitched differently and your synergy is negative - your players have bad years together.
COROLLARY: Good hitters are power hitters. At a correlation level of about 0.80.
You need good hitters at bat positions, and 25+ homers is the reliable way to get a "good hitter." That's all.
... Also, if nobody on your team is scary, you're going to wind up a Cellblock-D princess by July. That's life in the cutthroat world of big-money sports.
Neither Baker, nor Earl Weaver, nor little Joe Morgan, articulated their (genuine) understandings of baseball in precisely the way that Baseball Prospectus would. That's fine. It is the internet age, and the more camera angles the better.
Back in the 1980's, Earl used to say, "I prefer my ballclubs to hit at least 150 homers." Earl Weaver would go into spring training with an HR quota to pencil out, and he'd make sure that his roster could produce those HR's.
Little Joe would see a team with singles hitters in 3B and LF and get angry. "You do that, you get an un balanced ball club," he groused on one TV broadcast. You get weaknesses that can be exploited.
Does this mean that Joe Morgan and Earl Weaver were naive? Or does it mean that, on an intuitive level, Earl was right that "the home run is the greatest play in baseball"?
Very few things in life are as simple as [one variable].
I tell you, "You're better off if you don't get cancer, so you should stop smoking." But my sister-in-law went through a terminal scare last year, and it turned her life around. Being diagnosed as about to die, that was one of the best things that ever happened to her -- according to her. Analyzing root causes is like adjusting a 64-band mixing board.
You can find teams that win without power. You can also find teams that win with terrible pitching. You can find teams that win with terrible fielding, such as a lot of the Yankees teams. Does that logically prove that you want Mike Carp at third base and Casper Wells in CF, since the Yankees won with Bernie Williams in CF and Derek Jeter at SS?
"You'd better get some power in the corners." That is one of baseball's most valid, most enduring, and most important principles.
That is because "power in the corners" is a superficial, path-of-least-resistance way to solve dozens of invisible problems at once. You could solve these problems in other ways, but it would open you up to cascading problems that you can't anticipate. Better just to handle the problem the way that Earl Weaver did.
When we say, "Get some power in the corners," here is what we are and are not saying: