Alex Rodriguez said something odd the other day (shocking, I know). He said that he’s not a home run hitter:
“I’ve hit a lot of home runs,” Rodriguez said. “The one thing I do worry about is if you’re not making solid contact and if you’re not driving runners in. The columns I worry about are RBI and wins. I’ve never considered myself a home run hitter.”
Yo, Alex: you’re a home run hitter. In fact, you’re a pretty prolific home run hitter. You’ve lead the league in home runs five times. You’re the number one active home run hitter. You’re number seven on the all time list. You’re fifth on the active AB/HR list and tenth all time on that same list. You are a home run hitter. Embrace that.
Seriously, what’s the problem with saying “Yup, I’m a home run hitter.” At any time in the game, a home run is the single best outcome for a batter and the worst outcome for the pitcher. Obviously, at least one and as many as four runs score on a single swing. Hitting homers is a good thing.
Analysts talk about teams “relying” on the home run and how it’s a bad thing. Sure, I’ll agree to an extent: if you can’t muster any non-HR power and can’t get a base hit every now and then, you’re probably going to struggle.
Then there are the people who say home runs kill rallies. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. Observe:
Jeff Francoeur: “That was a lot of fun,” Jeff Francoeur said. “You just keep pounding balls into the gap. The one thing you don’t want to do is hit a home run. That’s a rally-killer.”
No, Jeff. Home runs start and continue rallies. How does a run scoring play kill a rally?
Orel Hershieser, too.
This entry sums up my thoughts nicely. Charlie Steiner’s remark against the “home run as rally killer” argument is great, too:
“That’s like me presenting you with a million dollars in brand new bills, and you’re complaining that the serial numbers are out of sequence.”
Though I’ve got to say, my favorite non-HR-as-valuable argument is Ichiro Suzuki. How many times have we heard that Ichiro could hit 30 home runs if he wanted to but he doesn’t because he knows getting more singles is better? Well, that’s just stupid. If Ichiro has the ability to launch 30 homers a game, he should. If I’m the Mariners, I’ll take the trade off. They need power in the worst way. Ichiro seems like a pretty smart player; he should know that homers > singles. So either someone’s lying about his ability, or I’m giving Mr. Suzuki too much credit.
Even our own second baseman, Robinson Cano, has said that he doesn’t aim for hitting 30 home runs. I can’t recall who, but one analyst last year brought up the idea to Cano that he could hit 30 homers and Robbie sounded like he didn’t want to because it might bring his average down. Like the Ichrio situation, Robbie, trust me, if you want to jack 30 homers, I’ll take the drop of a few points in average. Hell, the way you’re hitting this year, you’d still hit for a high average.
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