Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Top 10 most likely to hit a homerun in their first plate appearance

Okay, now for the other side of the equation. Just to say up front, I know there are many different ways to do this. I don’t care because this is what I picked. Someone could use Leverage Index or weighted Leverage Index, or some other number to figure this out, but I didn’t. The reason is, this is a list that goes back to the beginning of the game. I don’t like lists that pick arbitrary dates in order to use a specific metric.

I didn’t go back to 1980 to incorporate any sabermetric principles, and I didn’t go back to 1954 because Retrosheet has most of the box scores, and I didn’t go back to 1920 when homeruns replaces deadball. I went all the way back and used numbers that are common to every player who has ever been in the game. If someone wants to do this differently, be my guest. Please send the link, as I would like to see, but this is my list, so I’ll do it my way.

When I say the least likely, or the most likely, I don’t really know. Maybe least probable or most probable is a better way of stating it. I don’t really think any player is likely to do any particular thing in any particular at bat. We know by percentages who has the best chance to do something, but it’s far from likely anything will ever happen, outside of an intentional walk, and Johnny Bench can attest to the fact that that isn’t always true.

The top-10 most likely guys to hit a homerun are listed below:

10 – Mike Jacobs (66.4)                      100 homeruns in 2117 plate appearances over 6 seasons

In light of recent events, I wonder if I should add a 10-point bonus to players suspended for PED’s? This would push him up the list. Hit as a pinchhitter, but he was a semi-regular first baseman who topped at 32 one season, and 20 another. Has the third highest total of homeruns of the top 10. Didn’t show the same power in the minors, but hit more as he got closer.

Hit his homerun off of Esteban Loaiza

9 – Tim Wallach (65.6)                       260 homeruns in 8908 plate appearances in 17 seasons

A third baseman for the Expos and Dodgers, he had mid-range power. Only topped 20 homeruns 5 times, with a high of 28. Didn’t really play in hitters parks, at least I don’t think Olympic Stadium was a hitters park. We know Dodgers Stadium isn’t. Ended his career before the offensive explosion, so I was kind of surprised to see him here, but he does have the 4th highest total of any player to do this, so volume counts. Member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Hit his homerun off of Phillip Nastu

8 – Mark Worrell (64.0)                     1 homerun in 4 plate appearances in 2 seasons

The only pitcher in the top-10, so I’ll let him stay. Not really a hitter, he didn’t have a single one in 8 plate appearances in the minors and just one in the majors. The fewer number of plate appearances puts him high on the list, but hey, he still hit one, which one more than I ever did. Pitched in one game before he hit his homerun. If anyone thinks he should be replaced I don’t mind. But Luke Hughes and Esteban Yan, two pitchers, are 11th and 12th on the list. Still active, so his placement could change.

Hit his homerun off of Tim Redding

7 – Dave Matranga (60.1)                  1 homerun in 6 plate appearances in 2 seasons

A second baseman for the Mets and Angels, he only got to the plate 7 times in his career. I realize a low number of plate appearances might skew the numbers somewhat, but I don’t think so. A lower number of plate appearances means fewer chances to hit more homeruns. Follow me, here? Hit it as a pinchhitter. Hit 82 homeruns in the minors. This is also his only major league hit.

Hit his homerun off of Joaquin Benoit 

6 – Jermaine Dye (59.9)                     325 homeruns in 7214 plate appearances in 14 seasons

The most career homeruns of any player in the top-10, and second most among all the players to do it. Topped 20 homeruns 10 times, 30 homeruns four times, and 40 once. The best overall hitter in the top-16, and one the five best overall. Played in two World Series, winning one of them. On April 132009, Dye and Paul Konerko hit their 300th homers in the majors, the first teammates to do so in the same game. They managed the feat in back-to-back at-bats.

Hit his homerun off of Marcus Moore

5 – Jay Gainer (59.7)                           3 homeruns in 45 plate appearances in 1 seasons

A first baseman that couldn’t cut it with the Rockies, he actually hit his in Cincinnati at old Riverfront Stadium, and not in Coors. Of course, Coors wasn’t opened until 2 years later. Hit a lot of homeruns in the minors, topping 30 twice, so he definitely belongs here. One of the original Rockies, he never got much of a shot. Now managing in the minors. Hit his homerun on the first pitch he saw.

Hit his homerun off of Tim Pugh

4 – Josh Fields (59.5)                           34 homeruns in 796 plate appearances in 5 seasons

One of only three players still active, although Fields and Jacobs are in the minors. Has the best chance of making it back to the bigs. Hit 23 in one season, but injuries have kept him from putting together a full season. Good power in the minors, he definitely belongs on the list. Hit his as a pinchhitter. I think eventually he’ll make it back and move down on the list.

Hit his homerun off of Jamie Walker

3 – J.P. Arencibia (49.5)                      6 homeruns in 686 plate appearances in 2 seasons

The only player still in the majors, he probably won’t stay on this list very long. A catcher who isn’t known for his hitting, he had a ton of power in the minors, topping 20 twice and 30 once. He hit two homeruns in this first game. Opening day of 2011, he hit two homeruns and a triple, so debuts are right up his alley.

 Hit his homerun off of James Shields

2 – Mitch Lyden (47.6)                        1 homeruns in 10 plate appearances in 1 seasons

A catcher for the original Marlins, this was his only homerun in the majors. One of only three players in the top-10 to only hit one homerun in their career. Hit over 200 homeruns in the minors. Spent 10 years in the minors before he got a chance at the majors.

Hit his homerun off of Jose Bautista

1 – Charlton Jimerson (46.3)              2 homeruns in 9 plate appearances in 4 seasons

A right fielder for the Mariners and Astros, he hit his first one as a pinchhitter. He did appear in one game as a defensive replacement the previous year without batting, but was able to avoid the Moonlight Graham syndrome. Hit double figures in homeruns for 9 straight years in the m minors, but never got a long look in the majors. Played in the minors last year, but no info about this year. It’s not out of the question that he could come back up and increase his lead, or drop out entirely.

Hit his homerun off of Cole Hamels

So that’s the list of the 10 most likely players to hit a homerun in their first plate appearance. One pitcher, but he counts. Jimerson could legitimately be considered not eligible for the list since he got into a game before he actually hit, but several pitchers did that also, so he stays.

Update:  somehow I missed a player. I didn't realize this until I was going back through, so I want to add him on now, as most people will know him.

4 - Will Clark (49.6)                                    284 homeruns in 8283 plate appearances in 15 seasons

We all know about Will the Thrill, so I’m not going to add on to it.

Hit his homerun off of Nolan Ryan

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