There aren’t many better ways for a ballplayer to display their power than by sending an incoming pitch over the outfield wall. That happened plenty this past season, which was one of the best cumulative power performances we’ve ever seen.
There were a grand total of 111 players who surpassed the 20-homer plateau. Not only is that an increase from the 64 players who accomplished it in 2015, it’s a new record.
However, as we detailed last week, there are other ways to determine how powerful a hitter actually is.
So, going off our idea to find the most powerful players who didn’t hit 30 homers, we’re now looking for the opposite. Below is a table displaying the 20 least powerful players who collected at least 20 round-trippers last year.
To figure this out, we limited the search to qualified hitters, sorting them by their ISO (Isolated Slugging Percentage).
Now, to be clear – none of these hitters are “below average.” They’re actually all above average in the ISO department, according to FanGraphs.
Check out who made the list:
|7||Melvin Upton Jr.||492||.165||15||3||20||.693|
Some interesting notes when this group is compared to the previous one:
- Of the most powerful hitters with less than 30 homers, only three had an OPS under .800. In this group, there were just three over an .800 OPS.
- Carlos Beltran was the only hitter in the other list to not hit a triple last year. That number grew to four here.
- There were five hitters with 30-plus doubles in this group, while the previous group only had three who didn’t reach that number.
Now, onto some quick tidbits about each of the above hitters:
Overall, Xander Bogaerts had a career year, but it could’ve been a lot better if it weren’t for a bad second-half slump. He entered July with a .342/.393/.491 line, but hit just .248/.321/.403 the rest of the way.
The outfield situation for the Texas Rangers could’ve been a mess, but rookie Nomar Mazara was a huge help. He was slashing .302/.348/.479 with nine homers and 24 RBI through the end of May, but finished with just a 94 wRC+.
Freddy Galvis has the unfortunate honor of posting the lowest OPS among this group, at .673. He did exactly double his career homers, though – he entered 2016 with 20 round-trippers to his name and now has 40.
I recently talked about how risky it was to sign Ian Desmond, so naturally, the Colorado Rockies threw five years and $70 million at him to potentially play first base. However, one would imagine that playing at Coors Field will only help his power numbers.
Through his first two seasons (2014-15), Eugenio Suarez hit 17 homers, 28 doubles, drove in 71 runs and posted a .718 OPS in 616 at-bats. In 565 at-bats this past season, he hit 21 homers, 25 doubles, drove in 70 runs and posted a .728 OPS.
Starlin Castro is one of two New York Yankee middle infielders on this list. While he made a good first impression with a .305/.345/.488 line in April, his best (and most powerful) month came in August.
Castro hit .313/.333/.571 in 112 at-bats that month. The eight homers and 24 RBI he collected account for 38% and 34% of his 2016 totals in each department.
Outside of the homers, it wasn’t a great year for Melvin Upton Jr., who posted an 84 wRC+ and a 1.2 fWAR. He’ll take it over recent years, though – from 2013-15, his average wRC+ was 80 and he accumulated just 1.9 fWAR.
Eric Hosmer posted career highs in homers and RBI last year, but that .761 OPS is a decrease from his current personal best, which is .822 (happened in 2015). He’s also the only player here with a negative fWAR (-0.2).
Considering his horrific start, Russell Martin should be pumped to be on this list. He struggled to a .391 OPS through the end of April, but posted a .784 OPS from May through the end of the regular season to make up for lost time.
Remember that home run binge Danny Espinosa went on in June? He hit nine homers and drove in 21 runs en route to a very healthy .704 slugging percentage. That was the only month he posted a slugging percentage over .376.
This was the sixth consecutive season in which Adam Jones hit at least 25 homers. However, his 96 wRC+ was the second-worst of his career and his 1.4 fWAR is the worst since he became an everyday player.
Didi Gregorius is turning into a nice hitter to pair with his glove at shortstop. He registered career highs last season in runs scored (68), doubles (32), homers (20), RBI (70), batting average (.276), slugging percentage (.447) and OPS (.751).
Maikel Franco will likely be part of the next competitive baseball team in Philadelphia, but he’ll need to figure out how to hit at Citizens Bank Park. He slashed .246/.283/.387 in front of the home crowd, compared to .264/.331/.471 on the road.
Jayson Werth did a ton of damage against southpaws, posting a 1.031 OPS in 121 at-bats. It was right-handers that gave him a problem (.668 OPS in 404 at-bats).
Carlos Correa’s first full year in the big league’s went well – it’s tough to say a 4.9 fWAR season isn’t good, but he’s set lofty expectations. If we did these lists last season, he would’ve been one of the most powerful hitters to not collect 30 homers, as he belted 22 round-trippers and had a .233 ISO.
Addison Russell decreased his strikeout rate (28.5% in ’15, 22.6% in ’16) while increasing his power (.147 ISO in ’15, .179 in ’16) this past season. That’s how everyone wants to do it.
Anthony Rendon struggled through an injury-shortened 2015 season where he posted a career-low .707 OPS. He was healthy and back to normal in 2016, and interestingly enough, 19 of his 20 homers came against right-handed pitching.
Logan Forsythe accumulated 29 less at-bats in 2016 than he did in 2015, but posted an identical .444 slugging percentage. His ISO improved by 17 points, but his fWAR dropped from 4.0 to 2.8.
Homers are nice, but we all know a lot more goes into it when measuring a player’s overall value in that particular area. As mentioned earlier, none of these players are bad with regard to generating power — there were a record number of 20-homer hitters this past year, but it’s still hard to do at the big league level.
It’s just that the ISOs from these players were propped up more by home runs than the previous group we looked at. It’ll be interesting to see how these (mostly young) hitters progress in this department in 2017.