In order to look at which player’s had the biggest power surge from 2008 to 2009, I looked at the HR/FB rate for all players who had over 400 plate appearances in both season’s. Let’s take a look at the 10 biggest gainers and determine if their power surge is for real or a mirage:
1) Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins – +13.9%
Who saw this one coming? Then again, outside of two months (he had 11 in May and eight in August), he really was the same old Mauer. With a flyball percentage that has not exceeded 30% since his Major League debut in 2004 (107 AB), it’s hard to imagine him being able to repeat the 28 HR he posted in 2009. It’s realistic to think that the power will be greater than it was in previous seasons (his previous career high was 13, the only other season he cracked double-digits), but not to this extent.
2) Troy Tulowitzki – Colorado Rockies – +11.8%
While it was still greater than his mark during his rookie campaign (13.1%), it is becoming more credible to believe that 2008 was the outlier. I’d look for his power to continue in 2010 and beyond.
3) Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles – +10.9%
It’s not like his mark jumped to something completely unrealistic, sitting at 17.8% in 2009. While it is unlikely that he maintains that number, he also saw his flyball rate go from 35.4% in 2008 to 28.1% in 2009. Even if he is unable to maintain his HR/FB, it’s very realistic to believe that he will be able to maintain the home run total he displayed in 2009 (19) thanks to an improved flyball rate. If he is able to maintain his HR/FB rate, while also increasing his flyball rate to his previous levels, the power would actually take a major step forward. At the very least look for a repeat performance with the chance for so much more.
4) Raul Ibanez – Philadelphia Phillies – +10.4%
With the move to Citizen’s Bank Ballpark, is it really a surprise to see him on this list? However, that logic is flawed, as he hit 21 of his 34 home runs on the road. He also saw a huge dropoff in power after the All-Star Break (as well as returning from his injury), with just 12 home runs in the second half. I wouldn’t bank on him being able to repeat the home run display from 2009.
5t) Mark Reynolds – Arizona Diamondbacks – +7.8%
There’s no doubt that he possesses a ton of power, but very few players can post a 26% HR/RB rate and maintain it every season. In fact, only one player had a HR/FB rate of at least 25% in both 2008 & 2009 and that was Ryan Howard. Power or not, there’s likely going to be a fall in his power totals.
5t) Jason Bartlett – Tampa Bay Rays – +7.8%
After hitting just 11 HR over his first 1,533 career at bats, does anyone really think he’s suddenly going to post double-digit home run totals every season? In fact, his previous career best HR/FB was 4.6% in 2005 in 224 AB. It’s highly unlikely he comes close to the 8.7% he posted in 2009.
7) Michael Young – Texas Rangers – +7.7%
There was a time that he was a power threat, but with just 35 home runs over his previous three seasons, no one expected him to suddenly look like the player of old, smacking 22 home runs. While he had the same 11 home runs before and after the All-Star Break, his second half had nearly 150 fewer AB. Considering he had only posted a double-digit HR/FB in one season prior to 2009 (14.2% in 2005), look for his power to dissipate in 2010.
8t) Brandon Inge – Detroit Tigers – +6.2%
He had only posted a HR/FB in double-digits once before (14.3% in 2006), and considering how long of a career he’s had it is hard to say that he is anything but what he’s shown before. He’s established himself as more of a mid-teens power hitter, so I wouldn’t enter 2010 expecting much more than that.
8t) Derrek Lee – Chicago Cubs – +6.2%
Could it be that he just finally fully recovered from his wrist injury? He’s always been a double-digit HR/FB guy, even in his down seasons. His 2009 campaign resurgence was not only based on his increase here, however, but from a career high flyball rate of 45.7% (since 2002, his best mark was 40.9%). No matter how you slice it, the power is likely to fall.
10) Derek Jeter – New York Yankees – +5.6%
You have to point to the New Yankees Stadium for the reason for this jump. His flyball rate was consistent from his prior seasons and up until 2007 & 2008, his HR/FB rate was actually similar to his 2009 mark. There is every reason to believe that the power was saw from him last season will continue into 2010.
What are your thoughts on these players? Who is likely to maintain his power surge from 2009? Who is likely to regress?
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