What Were the Odds?
Power Index, Dept.


From Hey Bill this week:


Mike Zunino has 24 homers for Seattle this year, after being sent to the minors for about half of May because he was hitting so poorly. Do you happen to know if anyone has hit 30+ homers in an MLB season despite getting sent to the minors for performance reasons at some point in the season?
Asked by: arnewcs

Answered: 9/27/2017
 I don't know of that happening exactly, no, and scanning the list of 30-homer seasons I don't see any prime candidates.   Rudy York in 1937 had hit only 1 home run through June 19 and didn't really become a regular until August, but finished the season with 35 homers. 


Later in the week a reader chimed in "Kyle Schwarber," which (he says nicely) completely misses the point.  Well, which makes a point similar to the questioner's but completely dissimilar to Zunino's situation.  Schwarber is a 24-year-old prospect -- that's young to win a starting job in the majors -- and who had 200-odd at bats before 2017, was sent to AAA in late June to make adjustments, and who made them.  True enough, Schwarber looked in June like he was fighting an extreme rearguard action in his first* real job ...

... but who did not look like a player who had been totally destroyed 5 different times (2013, 2104, 2015, 2016, 2017) by major league pitchers.


On the broad sabermetric point:  sure.  All kinds of kids have been sent back down to the minors, made adjustments, and come back to the majors to star in the second half.  How many of those occur per year?  0.5, 1.0, 2.5, you pick ... :- )

On the narrow sabermetric point:  how many HR/RBI kids with huge swings do this?  Fascinating to reflect that "none" have ever done this and returned fast enough to bang 30 taters.


On the Mariner point:  the Mariners SURE ARE WEIRD.  I mean they are WEIRD.  The whole organization is just super weird.  But then again there's comfort in that; it remindes us that we weren't homers (as such!) to think Justin Smoak could do good.  He was on the cover of Baseball Prospectus, y know.


On the Mike Zunino point:  he was a #3 overall.  Or whatever it was.  Picked 3 by the guy who picked Fielder and Weeks and Braun and stuff.  Maybe it's just that all these guys (Zunino, Smoak, Condor, whoever) had to learn how to play without any help from their home org?

Going into the month of June - like, school is out then, or used to be - Zuumball had hit 1 homer.  I don't know what his second half PX (Power Index) is going to be next year, 160, 170?, but I bet it's up there with the top 10 guys in the game.  PX is going to be Zunino's calling card.  He ain't a 6 runs per game guy and don't need to be.  Enjoy his PX for what it's worth.


Dr D




after having learned to lay off the low and away breaking ball, pitchers just fed him the gas--and the results were not good.

On four seam fastballs, 19% swinging strike...zone contact of 63%...and a K rate of 51%(!)

The problem was masked a little by a .439 BABIP on the fastballs where he did make contact.

But I can't remember any hitter ever swinging through so many fastballs down the middle.  And I can't think that will be lost on rival's pitching plans next year.  

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