Balance of Power Revisited


About six weeks ago, I was curious about the possibility of four Royals reaching 20 homers or more in 2011, which has happened just two other times in franchise history.  At the time, Jeff Francoeur led the team with 12 homers, Alex Gordon and Melky Cabrera were right behind him with 11 each and Eric Hosmer had 9.

Today, in the seventh inning in the Royals game against the Blue Jays, the tide has shifted, as Gordon now leads the team with 17, Cabrera has just hit number 17, Francoeur has just 15 and out of nowhere, Billy Butler has 16 (he had just six and was yet two weeks from nickname greatness).

As we come lose to the final month of the year, I figured it’s worth a look to see if anyone is still on pace.

It’s really just an arbitrary number. A symbol.  Plenty of players have hit 20 homers in a season and still had crummy seasons.  Homers aren’t the only measure by which we should judge a hitter.

That being said, it does get old having your team’s home run leader end up with a number in the teens at the end of the year.  Think of the Mike MacFarlane days. Or last year when Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Guillen (who didn’t play for the Royals after August 5) led the way with 16.

Here were the projections six weeks ago:

HR/Game Current HR Potential HR Projected
Francoeur 0.1319 12 8.70 20.70
Cabrera 0.1209 11 8.22 19.22
Gordon 0.1222 11 8.31 19.31
Hosmer 0.1475 9 10.03 19.03

Absent is Country Breakfast, who has added ten more homers since that article.  Hosmer has cooled down, as he’s run into some mini-slumps and hasn’t really been swinging for the fences.

Since we’re closing in on the end of the season, I’m changing my calculation a bit, looking at home runs per plate appearance instead of games played.  I figure it’s a better measurement, since Gordon and Cabrera usually bat at the top of the lineup while Butler, Francoeur and Hosmer end up hitting behind them and, over time, have pulled away in plate appearances (also Hosmer has only been up since May 6, of course, so he’ll be lagging behind anyway).

These numbers are taking into account plate appearances through last night’s game (the 130th of the year) and assume all five players play every game the rest of the way:

PA/HR PA/Gm Current HR Potential HR* Projected
Francoeur 35.93 4.27 15 3.80 18.80
Cabrera 35.81 4.55 16 4.06 20.06
Gordon 33.59 4.57 17 4.35 21.35
Hosmer 38.36 4.40 11 3.67 14.67
Butler 33.44 4.18 16 3.999 19.99

*Profected HR from now until the end of the season.

I feel pretty good with a list like that.  Figuring in Cabrera’s homer tonight, he projects (crudely) to 21 homers this year.  None of these calculations take park factors or any kind of HR/FB regressions or anything into effect, though the Royals play just 11 of their next 31 games in Kauffman Stadium with a series in Cleveland and Chicago, two parks with homer-friendly reputations (though the Royals will also play at Comerica Park, Safeco Field and whatever they’re calling Oakland’s stadium these days).

More encouraging to look at are the complete power profiles by this group.  All four of Butler, Gordon, Francoeur and Cabrera have 30 doubles or more. Hosmer, a month behind, has 20, the only other player to hit that count.  They all happen to be the five regulars with an OPS+ above 100, too.

Looks a lot better than scraping out runs by way of the slap single a la Scott Podsednik, Jason Kendall and David DeJesus last season, huh?

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Tags: AL Central Alex Gordon Baseball Billy Butler Country Breakfast Eric Hosmer Jeff Francoeur Kansas City Royals KC KC Royals Melky Cabrera