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Just The Sports: Pitchers' Home Run Rates

Just The Sports

Monday, July 31, 2006

Pitchers' Home Run Rates

Pitchers' home run rates do not tell the complete story because they treat every home run with equal weight, but there are actually four outcomes to any home run that is given up. Two pitchers can have similar home run per game ratios while one pitcher gives up a large number of 2-run and 3-run homers at the same time the other pitcher is mostly giving up solo shots. Understanding this, I wanted to see how certain pitchers' home run rates compare to their average runs given up per home run. The starting pitchers chosen were the top ten pitchers in each league in home runs given up per game. Home runs per game is slightly different than home runs per nine innings since home runs per game's ratio is based on the number of batters a pitcher faces along with the league average number of batters faced per game. The results are as follows.

American League

Home Runs per Game
1. Scott Elarton 2.00 HR/G
2. Josh Beckett 1.90 HR/G
3. Carlos Silva 1.67 HR/G
4. Jamie Moyer 1.53 HR/G
5. Brad Radke 1.53 HR/G
6. Freddy Garcia 1.53 HR/G
7. Rodrigo Lopez 1.46 HR/G
8. Kris Benson 1.41 HR/G
9. Curt Schilling 1.39 HR/G
10. Randy Johnson 1.38 HR/G

Runs per Home Run
1. Josh Beckett 1.7 R/HR
2. Randy Johnson 1.7 R/HR
3. Carlos Silva 1.6 R/HR
4. Rodrigo Lopez 1.6 R/HR
5. Kris Benson 1.5 R/HR
6. Jamie Moyer 1.4 R/HR
7. Brad Radke 1.4 R/HR
8. Freddy Garcia 1.4 R/HR
9. Curt Schilling 1.4 R/HR
10. Scott Elarton 1.3 R/HR

Although Scott Elarton leads the American League in home runs per game, his home runs do not do as much damage as some of the pitchers below him in that category. A large reason behind this is all of his home runs have been either solo shots or 2-run home runs. Josh Beckett is a pitcher to be concerned about because not only has he been giving up a high number of home runs, but also a high runs per home run average.

National League

Home Runs per Game
1. Taylor Buchholz 1.80 HR/G
2. Eric Milton 1.61 HR/G
3. Chris Young 1.59 HR/G
4. Jason Marquis 1.58 HR/G
5. Cory Lidle 1.37 HR/G
6. Livan Hernandez 1.35 HR/G
7. Ramon Ortiz 1.35 HR/G
8. Andy Pettitte 1.32 HR/G
9. Dave Bush 1.27 HR/G
10. Pedro Martinez 1.26 HR/G

Runs per Home Run
1. Taylor Buchholz 2.2 R/HR
2. Dave Bush 1.7 R/HR
3. Eric Milton 1.6 R/HR
4. Jason Marquis 1.6 R/HR
5. Andy Pettitte 1.6 R/HR
6. Pedro Martinez 1.6 R/HR
7. Livan Hernandez 1.5 R/HR
8. Cory Lidle 1.4 R/HR
9. Ramon Ortiz 1.3 R/HR
10. Chris Young 1.2 R/HR

Taylor Buchholz is a pitcher like Josh Beckett who has given up a lot of home runs this season and has also given up a high number of runs per home run, which is not what you want from a starting pitcher.

For whatever reason, the American League pitchers looked out give up fewer runs per home run than their National League counterparts. This is mostly likely just happenstance.

This should be a good reminder the next time you see a pitcher's home run rate or home run totals he has allowed so that you will question how much damage those home runs actually did since not all homers are created equal.

NOTE: Cory Lidle is now in the American League with the Yankees, but has yet to pitch a game and no doubt give up a home run while wearing a Yankees uniform.


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