I understand the home run has lost a bit of its luster with advanced analytics, changing launch angles and more guys swinging for the fences than ever before.
Joey Gallo hit more home runs (41) than singles (32) in 2017, yet a guy like Dodgers utility man Chris Taylor was more “valuable”. However, the home run is still the most exciting result in baseball, chicks still dig the long ball. It drops the jaws of fans, young and old and scores runs instantly. The home run is the ultimate “I got you” from batter to pitcher. Throughout all times and eras of baseball, we look at position players and compare numbers and usually ask “how many home runs did he hit?”
In 1998, as a kid falling in love with baseball, I didn’t care what Mark McGwire’s strikeout rate or on-base percentage were. I didn’t look at Ken Griffey Jr.’s OPS or line drive rate. I wanted to see their name next to “HR” in the box score. I don’t think I am weird enough to be the only one who once thought like that. Sure, modern analytics open a new world of evaluation to baseball, but don’t take away the simple magic of a home run.
This is an unprecedented time in Padres history. With the addition of Eric Hosmer and the embarrassment of riches in the farm system, I agree with agent Scott Boras when he said the Padres are “a volcano of hot talent-lava.” Translation: the Padres are talented in all levels of their organization.
Somewhere in that pool of oozing lava is a player destined to finally break Nate Colbert’s 44-year-old record.
No offense to Nate Colbert, but someone really needs to break the Padres’ all-time home run record, which is Colbert’s at 163. He played for the Padres from 1969 to 1974 and was part of the original 1969 team. That was a long time ago and the record still stands.
The total of 163 for a team’s home run king is the lowest among all 30 MLB squads, by a lot. The next closest is Luis Gonzalez as the Diamondbacks’ home run leader with 224 and they have only been around since 1998.
This might seem silly but it’s really indicative of how poorly the Padres have been able to keep good players around much longer than two or three seasons. Adrian Gonzalez got really close, but finished with 161 before being shipped off. His career seems to be on the sharp decline, now with the Mets.
Is there someone within the Padres’ organization that can finally surpass 163 home runs? My answer is yes. Let’s take a look at a few candidates and see what they would have to do to become the new Padres home run king, listing them by the amount of time it would take.
I know this is assuming a lot, but Tatis certainly has the tools. The Padres get six years of Tatis before having to deal with free agency (unless of course he is traded, which I know is heresy to even consider right now). He has as many career major league home runs as I do but that will change very quickly, maybe even later this year. As an 18-year-old, he picked apart pitching at Single-A Fort Wayne and hit 21 bombs before being promoted to Double-A and hitting one more. 22 home runs for an 18-year-old is not something to scoff at. He has 20/20 tools.
Assuming he plays six seasons for the Padres, he would need to average just over 27 home runs per season. That is pretty lofty, but if the Padres are serious about him being in their infield for the next decade, he could do it. He may get more than six years as a Friar. If he gets 10, he could absolutely break it, only needing 17 home runs per year. I am not going to be disappointed if he doesn’t break the record as this is quite the goal and number to put on the head of a kid who has not even reached Triple-A, it’s just fun to think about the possibilities with Tatis’ tools.
The ink has barely dried on Hosmer’s 8-year, $144 million deal and here I am hoping he breaks the Padres’ home run record. He has 163 to go, just like Tatis. However, his track record and trajectory is more visible. Hosmer hit 127 home runs for the Royals over seven seasons. If he has that career all over again, he would still fall short. That’s not saying things can’t change. We have seen several players with a spike in home runs over the past few seasons due to some tweaks in their swing.
If Hosmer continues his trend of 2016 and 2017, hitting 25 home runs each season, he could get much closer. If he plays out the full eight years of his contract, he would need to average just under 21 home runs per season. That is certainly doable for Hosmer. The only thing is, with an opt-out after five years, it is not etched in stone he will be a Padre until 2026. In order to accomplish the feat in five years, he needs 33 home runs per season. That is much less likely as that would be averaging a new career high he has not yet achieved.
I put Renfroe ahead of Hosmer only for the fact that Renfroe actually has home runs under his belt as a Padre, 30 to be exact. He certainly has the power tools to achieve it, but we will see if he can last on the roster if he does not get on base more and improve his defense. This could turn obsolete any day if it is true the Padres are shopping him around. However, if he stays and shows marked improvement, he could get on the fast track to reach it. If he averages 26 home runs (his 2017 total), it would take him just over five seasons to achieve 164.
He has five more seasons before he comes a free agent, so it is certainly possible if he can stick on the roster. His raw power is only rivaled perhaps by Wil Myers on the big league squad. If he cuts down on the strikeouts and plays closer to a full season, he could easily surpass 30 home runs in a season and propel himself to near the top of the home run leaderboard.
Myers is the likeliest candidate currently in the organization. He is only 27 and is signed until after the 2022 season, thus he has five more seasons with the Friars under that deal. Frankly, this may come down to whether or not Myers plays out his full contract in San Diego. He has 66 home runs as a Friar and he could be in the top 10 all-time with another good season this year. Say what you want about his strikeout rate or discipline at the plate, Myers can hit bombs.
He needs 98 more home runs to be the Padres’ Home Run King. Given the time of his contract, that would mean he needs to average 20 home runs per season for the rest of his term. I am feeling pretty confident he could do it. In fact, I predict that if Myers stays a Padre through the 2022 season, he will be the new Padres home run leader.
Really this is not as important as winning games, but it’s more an issue of pride. The Padres just have not held on to any power hitters long enough to break the record. We are all hoping this go-around with ownership and management is different, and there is evidence that it is. It’s past time for the home run record to be broken, and the player to do it may already be in a Padres’ uniform.