Sanchez, Judge, Bellinger have better Home Run rates in major league than minor. Saturday, June 24, 2017
The Juiced Ball Is Back
New testing suggests the baseball is at least partially responsible for MLB’s huge homer spike
by Ben Lindbergh, Staff Writer, The Ringer June 14, 2017
... the home run explosion hadn’t yet extended to the upper levels of the minor leagues, which use balls manufactured in China that differ from the Costa Rica–made MLB ball
There is talk that Aaron Judge, 25 year old Yankee rookie, will soon break the Yankee rookie record of 29 Home Runs held by Joe DiMaggio. The talk should turn to Judge breaking the record of any Yankee:
60 HR by Babe Ruth in 154 games in 1927
61 HR by Roger Maris in 162 games in 1961.
The same could be said about Cody Bellinger, Dodger rookie, who might become the first Dodger in either Brooklyn or Los Angeles to hit 50 homers in a season. This despite Bellinger joining the team April 25, 2017 in Dodger game 21. Bellinger did not homer in his first four games, 13 AB, making his HR rate even more remarkable.
This post examines the HR rate of some sluggers from those thrilling days of yesteryear ... plus Mike Trout.
Using the baseball-reference.com definition of rookie, I found 26 players, including Trout, who hit at least 30 HR as a rookie. Here are the ten who hit at least 35 homers as a rookie:
|1||Mark McGwire (RoY-1st)||49||1987||23||OAK||AL||151||641||557||97||161||28||4||118||71||8||131||5||0||8||6||1||1||.289||.370||.618||.987||*3/59H|
|2||Frank Robinson (RoY-1st)||38||1956||20||CIN||NL||152||667||572||122||166||27||6||83||64||7||95||20||8||4||14||8||4||.290||.379||.558||.936||*7/8H|
|4||Albert Pujols (RoY-1st)||37||2001||21||STL||NL||161||676||590||112||194||47||4||130||69||6||93||9||1||7||21||1||3||.329||.403||.610||1.013||5379/HD|
|6||Jose Abreu (RoY-1st)||36||2014||27||CHW||AL||145||622||556||80||176||35||2||107||51||15||131||11||0||4||14||3||1||.317||.383||.581||.964||*3D/H|
|7||Mike Piazza (RoY-1st)||35||1993||24||LAD||NL||149||602||547||81||174||24||2||112||46||6||86||3||0||6||10||3||4||.318||.370||.561||.932||*2/H3|
|8||Ron Kittle (RoY-1st)||35||1983||25||CHW||AL||145||570||520||75||132||19||3||100||39||8||150||8||0||3||10||8||3||.254||.314||.504||.818||*7/HD8|
Since it's really tedious and somewhat open to interpretation to determine a player's last minor league season, the details will be limited to about ten players who seemed most interesting. Note that some played in the minors during their major league rookie season, including Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Mike Trout. For them, a previous minor league season was used.
For each slugger, the table below shows HR Rate (AB/HR (lower is better)) for last minor, rookie, most Home Runs in a major league season.
As a rookie, only Mark McGwire approached the HR rates of rookies Gary Sanchez in 2016 (10.05) or Judge and Bellinger in 2017, both below 10.
Most reasonable people would not think that either McGwire or Barry Bonds were using performance enhancing drugs (PED) in their rookie seasons.