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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Alonso sets rookie HR record with No. 53

NEW YORK—Shortly after Pete Alonso matched Aaron Judge’s Major League rookie home run record on Friday night, Judge said in no uncertain terms that Alonso would soon stand alone atop the leaderboard. No matter that only two games remained in the season. Alonso’s reputation had reached the point that the record was going to fall, in Judge’s words, “for sure.”

Not 24 hours later, Alonso made good on that prediction in the Mets’ 3-0 win over the Braves at Citi Field. The presumptive National League Rookie of the Year launched his 53rd home run over the center-field fence to stand above every rookie in MLB history.

Aware as soon as he hit it that the ball was going out, Alonso walked slowly toward first base, then thrust both hands in the air as he rounded his bases. By the time he returned to the dugout, many of his teammates were outside of it waiting for him.

The record-breaking shot marked the culmination of one of the most productive rookie seasons in Major League history. Alonso also has 120 RBIs, putting him four off the Mets’ franchise record that David Wright and Mike Piazza share.

And the milestones keep on coming!

 

QLE Posted: September 29, 2019 at 12:08 AM | 43 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: home runs, milestones, pete alonso, rookies

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   1. Moeball Posted: September 29, 2019 at 12:52 AM (#5884264)
Ok, I may be the only one to notice this or even care, but the last time the ML rookie HR record was held by someone who didn't go to high school in California was way back in 1929, 90 years ago, when Dale Alexander tied the existing rookie record of 25 homers in a season. Wally Berger set a new rookie record of 38 in 1930, Frank Robinson matched it in 1956, Mark McGwire broke it with 49 in 1987 and Aaron Judge with 52 in 2017. All California high school products. Alonso wrests the title away from California for the first time in 90 years and claims it for Florida. The times they are a changin'!
   2. Lest we forget Posted: September 29, 2019 at 04:38 AM (#5884280)
The balls they are a changin'!
   3. bunyon Posted: September 29, 2019 at 09:59 AM (#5884291)
Yes, the balls in 2017 and 1987 were squishy softballs.

I mean, yeah, I get it, the balls in 2019 are crazy. But it ain't the first time this record has fallen due to a juiced ball year.
   4. "RMc", the superbatsman Posted: September 29, 2019 at 11:49 AM (#5884304)
Yessir, when Lipman Pike hit four homers as a rookie back in '71, I said, "This game ain't never gonna last, Jethro!" Then I realized that Jethro'd been dead for years! And I was laying nekkid in the cornfield! Again!
   5. Booey Posted: September 29, 2019 at 12:05 PM (#5884308)
#3 - Yup. The last 2 times the rookie HR record was broken (Judge in 2017, McGwire in 1987) also happened in the most homer happy season of all time up to that point. So this is probably the only HR record this year that can't be entirely shrugged off with a "Meh, juiced ball," reaction.

Everyone else is playing under the same conditions as Alonso, and leading the majors is leading the majors. A rookie has never done that outright in the lively ball era (Mac tied for the ML lead).
   6. Lest we forget Posted: September 29, 2019 at 01:23 PM (#5884332)
"Yes, the balls in 2017 and 1987 were squishy softballs"

What's you point? Seriously. I'm glad you get it, but 2019 is, personally, annoying. It's gone overboard, for me. It's gotten weird.

Leading the majors is leading the majors, sure. But ... ... screw it. Like jazz, if it needs to be explained then you don't get it.
   7. Dog on the sidewalk has an ugly bracelet Posted: September 29, 2019 at 01:33 PM (#5884339)
Everyone gets it. It doesn't need to be the focus of every single thread.
   8. Lest we forget Posted: September 29, 2019 at 01:34 PM (#5884341)
Nah, they don't.

And it's not.
   9. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 29, 2019 at 01:49 PM (#5884345)
The balls they are a changin'!
In all of MLB, one player has hit 50 HRs this season, which suggests that the spread of better HR-hitting techniques may be as important as the ball in allowing more players to hit a respectable number of HRs.
   10. Lest we forget Posted: September 29, 2019 at 02:00 PM (#5884348)
Sure. I agree. It plays in big time. Cookie cutter batter techniques.

Going into the last day of the season there are 58 players with 30+ homers.
And two teams have hit more than 300.
And the top 4 single season team home run totals are here in 2019.
10 of the top 18 single season team home runs .... 2019.

And the pitcher usage.. length of a ball game .... in game strategy boiled down to the 3 outcomes ..

I'm not loving this, the game I've loved all my life, and that voice is be part of the mix.


carry on



   11. bunyon Posted: September 29, 2019 at 02:55 PM (#5884367)
He’s a rookie leading MLB in homers. And he’s excited and enthusiastic. And playoff baseball begins today.

If you’re down on baseball today*, it might be time to break up.


* I generally agree with all the common complaints one hears about the game these days but, geez, it’s time to enjoy the game for a month. Gripe in November.
   12. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: September 29, 2019 at 03:05 PM (#5884369)
In all of MLB, one player has hit 50 HRs this season, which suggests that the spread of better HR-hitting techniques may be as important as the ball in allowing more players to hit a respectable number of HRs.


Suarez has 49 and could join him today. Trout and Yelich likely would have gotten there had they not gotten injured. And you have 2 other guys at 47. Mitch Garver has 31 in 359 PA, a 56 HR/650 PA pace. Miguel Sano with 34 in 436. And AAA HRs went up about 50%* this year after they changed to the MLB ball.

*I don't know what the actual number is, but they went up by a huge amount.
   13. Lest we forget Posted: September 29, 2019 at 03:12 PM (#5884372)
"If you’re down on baseball today*, it might be time to break up."

I agree! Considering it.

Don't read more into it than what I write. And yes, geez, I will enjoy it.

And I'll gripe anytime I want :-)
   14. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 29, 2019 at 03:28 PM (#5884377)
No knock on Alonso, but Yordan Alvarez has been better by almost every measure other than counting stats, and that's only because he didn't arrive until the second week in June.
   15. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 29, 2019 at 03:33 PM (#5884378)
The ball obviously has something to do with it but anyone who watched the HR derby knows that Pete has legit power. He and Acuna were the only guys hitting HRs to all fields and not simply pulling everything.

Doing it in Citi Field, which has a 98 HR park factor this year but was at 89 last year and 80 in 2017, is also impressive.

Suarez is having a very nice season but the GABP HR factors over the past 3 years are 109, 140 and 113.
   16. Booey Posted: September 29, 2019 at 03:36 PM (#5884379)
#12 - Sure, but the HR record was shattered this season because every rando hit 15-35, not because the top guys are doing anything historic. As far as individual performances go, this silly ball era still doesn't compare to the original one. There were four 50 HR seasons in both 1998 and 2001, and not just barely, either. Both years featured a 70 HR guy, another mid 60's guy, and a high 50's player. 2001 also had 3 more seasons of 49. Even if Trout and Yelich hadn't gotten hurt, 2019 wouldn't have been anything record breaking as far as top end power goes.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: September 29, 2019 at 05:33 PM (#5884414)
Let's not overstate the effect on the leaderboard (relative to 2018). Last year Davis led with 48; this year Alonso with 53. Last year #10 was 37 and #20 was 33; this year it's 41 and 36. Last year, #101-120 was a mix of 19, 18, 17; this year a mix of 22, 21, 20. Last year #201-220 was about half 11, half 10; this year about 1/3 13 and a bunch of 12's.

It's probably about 15% up and down the distribution but that's about 5 HR at the top and 2-3 at the bottom. So maybe Alonso would have only hit 48 last year -- so sure, it wouldn't have been a record but it's not like he would have hit only 33. All those guys this year hitting 15-20 ... last year they'd have hit 12-17. Mitch Garver 31 in 359 PA!!! Max Muncy 35 in 481!!!

One way to isolate ball-only effects? In 2017, pitchers hit 76 doubles and 24 HR in 5,101 PAs which is 9.7 doubles and 3.06 HR per 650 PA. This year (not incl Sun) it's 74 doubles and 25 HRs in 5,074 PA. That's 9.5 doubles and 3.20 HR per 650 PA. That's a 5% increase in HR rate.

One place we've clearly seen a big boost is in PH'ing. Last year PH ISO was 127; this year it was 172. Last year HR% was 2.28%; this year 3.36%. Clearly the days of the PH trying to make contact and get a single are gone.
   18. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 29, 2019 at 06:27 PM (#5884436)
In all of MLB, one player has hit 50 HRs this season, which suggests that the spread of better HR-hitting techniques may be as important as the ball in allowing more players to hit a respectable number of HRs.

I'm not sure I understand this argument, honestly. If the increase is broad-based, wouldn't it be more likely to be the ball (or something else that has an immediate universal effect) than batter technique (or something else that happens on an individual basis)? If it was just a few guys hitting 50-60, it would be more likely to be those few guys changing their approach (like, say, Sammy Sosa or Jose Bautista did).
   19. DavidFoss Posted: September 29, 2019 at 06:54 PM (#5884443)
The most HR through the first 162 games of a career is Rudy York (!) with 55. Alonso has 53 through 161 so he has an outside chance to catch him.

I know this 162-game record is meaningless especially since 162 game seasons did not start until after York retired but I am still amused that a guy like York is still at the top of a leaderboard in *something*.
   20. bunyon Posted: September 29, 2019 at 08:37 PM (#5884470)
Eric: Everyone changed their approach. No one just tries to make contact. So you see it across the board. It’s probably the smart play. It also sucks.

It’s the ball and the approach. Both are true. We can change the ball but, likely, the change in approach is permanent without some pretty fundamental changes elsewhere.
   21. PreservedFish Posted: September 29, 2019 at 08:41 PM (#5884474)
I'm not sure I understand this argument, honestly. If the increase is broad-based, wouldn't it be more likely to be the ball (or something else that has an immediate universal effect) than batter technique (or something else that happens on an individual basis)? If it was just a few guys hitting 50-60, it would be more likely to be those few guys changing their approach (like, say, Sammy Sosa or Jose Bautista did).


The argument is that there are always a certain number of HR hitters of immense potential, that this is something of a constant. If the ball were really significantly juiced, these guys would be hitting 60 HRs instead of 50 HRs. But they're not really outpacing historical norms, and all of the extra homeruns are coming from the little guys, the infielders, the bottom of the lineup, suggesting it's a philosophy thing rather than an equipment thing.

Me personally, I think it's a fluke, and if the ball doesn't get fixed, we'll have more 60 HR seasons again soon.

The fact that the top top guys are not matching what was done at the height of the steroid era probably just underlines how goddam effective steroids were. There are more skinny guys in today's top 10 than in 1998's, which was basically Ken Griffey Jr and 9 Incredible Hulks. Yelich, Acuna and Bellinger are positively lithe, Bregman is tiny.

Also, talent is not actually a constant.
   22. bunyon Posted: September 29, 2019 at 08:46 PM (#5884480)
As for the fluke, Judge and Stanton missed a ton of time. Give them a full healthy 2019 and you may get your 60.
   23. bunyon Posted: September 29, 2019 at 08:48 PM (#5884481)
While I imagine PEDs helped the 90s and 00s sluggers, I also suspect Bonds, McGwire and Sosa were all time great HR hitters and we mostly missed the fun because we got mad they hit a few percent more than they should have clean.
   24. PreservedFish Posted: September 29, 2019 at 08:56 PM (#5884483)
I think both things were true. They were both outrageously talented and roided to the gills.

But when I see Bellinger hit nearly 50 in Dodger Stadium as a skinny 23 year old, my thought is certainly not "this proves the ball isn't juiced." Doesn't make sense to just shrug and accept that he's equivalent to Juan Gonzalez or Jose Canseco or Greg Vaughn.
   25. Howie Menckel Posted: September 29, 2019 at 09:08 PM (#5884486)
Jerry Seinfeld
@JerrySeinfeld
·
43m
Deeply contemplating “Seinfeld” re-boot if I can lock up @Pete_Alonso20 for next episode of “The Boyfriend”.
   26. Red Menace Posted: September 30, 2019 at 01:26 AM (#5884517)
The most HR through the first 162 games of a career is Rudy York (!) with 55. Alonso has 53 through 161 so he has an outside chance to catch him.


Aristides Aquino is on a 52 HR/162 pace after 56 career games.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: September 30, 2019 at 05:55 AM (#5884530)
The current binge started in 2016 (actually mid-2015). Of course 2014 was a big lull and 2013 was a bit of a lead-up to 2014.

In 2012 there were 4934 HR; over 6700 today so about a 35-40% jump.

The top went from 44 to 53
#10 went from 34 to 41
#30 from 28 to 34
#50 from 24 to 31
#101-110 from 16-17 to 21-22
#201-210 from 9 to 13
#301-310 from 4 to 7-8

So in that one comp, we have seen more growth at the bottom. The first 3 cuts have an increase of about 20%; this goes to about 30% in the next two cut; then 40 and 50%. In 2012, 517 had at least one HR (including pitchers); in 2019 that was up to 547 (including Ben Zobrist :-).

Still it's not like guys who used to hit 5 HR are now hitting 15-20. Guys who hit 5, hit 10; guys who hit 15, hit 20. If we take #s 241-270 as roughly the 8th best NL or 9th best AL hitter in the regular lineup, we've gone from 6-7 to 10-11. In 2019, about 4 players per team topped 20 HR; in 2012 that would have been 4 players topping 15. I'm not saying those are small changes but Jose Iglesias is still not hitting 15 HRs (but did have a career-high # of hits).

But let's not forget that, yes, it's 1,800 more HR than 2012 ... but it's 6,000 more Ks. Those extra Ks are partly the responsibility of batters but that's what really needs fixing to "fix" the game.
   28. bunyon Posted: September 30, 2019 at 08:23 AM (#5884536)
But let's not forget that, yes, it's 1,800 more HR than 2012 ... but it's 6,000 more Ks. Those extra Ks are partly the responsibility of batters but that's what really needs fixing to "fix" the game.

That's why I think it's more than the ball*. That sharp an uptick in Ks indicates a change in approach across the board. Sluggers have struck out a lot forever. Everyone accepted that "trying" to hit HR means you'll K more. So when everyone starts trying, they also K more. The change has been that, where, before, we said, hey if you hit 50 HR, you can strike out a lot, now we're saying, hey, if you can hit 30% more HR, you can strike out more.

I have no idea how to change that. The math says it IS the right approach if the goal is to score runs. So we have to change the conditions so that it ISN'T the right approach. Even then, hitters used the wrong approach for 100 years so the switch back may not be so fast.

Or, put another way, MLB hitters used to be selected, in part, by K rate. K a lot in the minors, you don't go up. That is no longer the case, it appears. If you don't put selective pressure on a skill, it will vanish.


* Obligatory: It's also the ball.
   29. bobm Posted: September 30, 2019 at 11:41 AM (#5884609)
[27] So in that one comp, we have seen more growth at the bottom. The first 3 cuts have an increase of about 20%; this goes to about 30% in the next two cut; then 40 and 50%. In 2012, 517 had at least one HR (including pitchers); in 2019 that was up to 547 (including Ben Zobrist :-).

Relative to seasons past, it does seem that a difference in hitting philosophy to match what the top sluggers already did has lightened the lower tail of the HR distribution. Perhaps greater and selective use of relief pitching/platoon advantage against the top home run sluggers(plus some injuries) has lightened the upper tail of the HR distribution?


While it has not been updated since 2011, Alex Reisner's website has calculations for z-scores and other statistics for home run hitting by league and season, using all batters with a cutoff of PA > 0.5 * team game. The league leaders' z-scores (NL 3.6, AL 3.2) fall below the top 1% of all player-seasons.

I assume any fault for misuse of this data, but for example here are Reisner's 2001 stats versus what I calculated for 2019 using his same 0.5 PA/G cutoff:

    Season         N Min Max Median  Mean     Std Dev  Skew  Kurtosis
2001 NL HR       266   0  73      6    10       11.95  1.97      4.66
2019 NL HR       234   0  53     11    14       10.9   1.13      0.9

2001 AL HR       218   0  52      8    11       10.55  1.39      1.69
2019 AL HR       251   0  48     12    14       10.86  0.80     -0.15
   30. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 30, 2019 at 12:49 PM (#5884627)
I assume the change in approach is related to the change in the ball. Guys are swinging for the fences more because the ball has a higher chance of going out. This contributes to the rise in Ks.
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 30, 2019 at 12:56 PM (#5884630)
I assume the change in approach is related to the change in the ball. Guys are swinging for the fences more because the ball has a higher chance of going out. This contributes to the rise in Ks.

Exactly. With a dead ball, the launch angle stuff wouldn't make sense. You'd just be hitting flyballs with a low BABIP.
   32. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: September 30, 2019 at 12:56 PM (#5884631)
20--Well, not Yelich. His strikeouts per at bats has held pretty steady the past two seasons at 24 percent. But he's the outlier. I get your overall point.
   33. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 30, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5884651)
That's why I think it's more than the ball*. That sharp an uptick in Ks indicates a change in approach across the board. Sluggers have struck out a lot forever. Everyone accepted that "trying" to hit HR means you'll K more. So when everyone starts trying, they also K more. The change has been that, where, before, we said, hey if you hit 50 HR, you can strike out a lot, now we're saying, hey, if you can hit 30% more HR, you can strike out more.

I have no idea how to change that. The math says it IS the right approach if the goal is to score runs. So we have to change the conditions so that it ISN'T the right approach.
I fail to see why we should inhibit hitters from swinging smarter and creating more runs, or at least attempting to do so. It would be like trying to outlaw the curveball because it gives pitchers an ‘unfair’ advantage.
   34. SoSH U at work Posted: September 30, 2019 at 02:09 PM (#5884658)
I fail to see why we should inhibit hitters from swinging smarter and creating more runs, or at least attempting to do so.


Because it's an entertainment product. If a strategy in a sporting event is useful, but creates a significantly and persistently unappealing style of play to a large segment* of customers, then the sport's governing body ought to consider making that strategy less useful.

Of course, you know all this, but you seem to have taken over the baseball is just fine, don't you dare complain about it mantle.

*Whether we're there yet is unknown, though obviously many on this site seem to think so.


   35. pikepredator Posted: September 30, 2019 at 02:15 PM (#5884665)
I fail to see why we should inhibit hitters from swinging smarter and creating more runs, or at least attempting to do so. It would be like trying to outlaw the curveball because it gives pitchers an ‘unfair’ advantage.


I agree with this. It's why the only actual solution I can think of that produces more exciting baseball is larger fields, so that a greater percentage of BIP fall in for hits. We get more action on the basepaths (triples!) as well as more cool fielding plays, more great catches and more bang-bang cut-off throw relays. More taking of 3rd (possibly 2nd) on long fly outs. And maybe more motivation to make contact if there's less of a chance of a HR and more of a chance of the ball falling in between or in front of outfielders.

But that seems to me to be a totally unrealistic solution.
   36. Kiko Sakata Posted: September 30, 2019 at 02:24 PM (#5884674)
It would be like trying to outlaw the curveball because it gives pitchers an ‘unfair’ advantage.


Well, change "curve" to "spit" and baseball did exactly that 100 years ago.
   37. SoSH U at work Posted: September 30, 2019 at 02:27 PM (#5884676)
It's why the only actual solution I can think of that produces more exciting baseball is larger fields, so that a greater percentage of BIP fall in for hits.


Shorter basepaths do that even more directly, and without requiring expensive stadium design changes. That's probably even less realistic, given the tradition of the 90-foot paths, but it would definitely help.


   38. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 30, 2019 at 02:38 PM (#5884682)
Because it's an entertainment product. If a strategy in a sporting event is useful, but creates a significantly and persistently unappealing style of play to a large segment* of customers, then the sport's governing body ought to consider making that strategy less useful.

Of course, you know all this, but you seem to have taken over the baseball is just fine, don't you dare complain about it mantle.
Well, I don’t think there’s much evidence that most fans share the homerphobic view that we can’t have “the wrong people” hitting HRs. The game evolves organically, if players are swinging smarter to produce more runs, thinking fans should applaud the effort, and they mostly do. Witness even the somewhat-jaded Howie Menckel posting enthusiastic updates on every Alfonso blast.
   39. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 30, 2019 at 02:42 PM (#5884686)
Well, I don’t think there’s much evidence that most fans share the homerphobic view that we can’t have “the wrong people” hitting HRs.

Declining attendance and ratings suggest otherwise.
   40. pikepredator Posted: September 30, 2019 at 02:47 PM (#5884690)
Shorter basepaths do that even more directly, and without requiring expensive stadium design changes. That's probably even less realistic, given the tradition of the 90-foot paths, but it would definitely help.


Absolutely. That is a fun idea to think about. It doesn't eliminate swinging for the fences, but it sure brings the running game back into focus . . .
   41. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 30, 2019 at 04:26 PM (#5884736)
Declining attendance and ratings suggest otherwise.
By historical measures, MLB attendance is on a high plateau that hasn’t changed much over the last two decades. When the 30-team era began in 1998, MLB averaged 29,030 fans per game; there hasn’t been that much variance, despite the vagaries of team performance, and MLB averaged 28,198 this year, at much higher ticket prices. That is much better than earlier eras. With cable, Extra Innings & MLB.TV, more people are seeing more MLB baseball than ever before, and MLB is awash in dough. The Kansas City Royals just sold for one billion dollars.
   42. Joe Bivens, Elderly Northeastern Jew Posted: September 30, 2019 at 05:50 PM (#5884770)
Davo posted in the Lounge that there are 6 or 7 guys who more than doubled their career HR totals this year...and none of them were 2nd or third year players, I believe.

Like, Christian Vazquez. He had 10, total. This year: 23. That's just wrong. Guys like Eduardo Nunez flicking balls over the fence, reaching, with one hand. Just wrong.
   43. SoSH U at work Posted: September 30, 2019 at 08:21 PM (#5884805)
Well, I don’t think there’s much evidence that most fans share the homerphobic view that we can’t have “the wrong people” hitting HRs.


That's why I added the asterisked portion. The point is, not every organic development is good for a sport, and when one happens that results in a negative development from an aesthetic POV, the sport shouldn't be prisoner to it as you seem to be advocating.

I recall the Devils popularizing a certain ugly style of play in hockey a generation or so ago. The NHL recognized that and changed the rules to get it out of the game. Baseball should be more open to tinkering with its rules to dictate the game they want (and no, pointing to first on an IBB isn't what I had in mind).

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