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Chasing Hank: In Perspective

Old 06-09-05, 07:46 AM
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Chasing Hank: In Perspective

since arod just became the youngest player to 400 homeruns, hitting his 400th last night, over a month before his 30rd birthday (edging out junior, who had 398 before his 30th).. Its sparking discussion of chasing hank

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/column...son&id=2073025
Catch Aaron? Time not necessarily on A-Rod's side
By Jayson Stark

Here at ESPN, we've devoted approximately 1.8 million words, 946 programming hours and 26.6 percent of the once-black hairs on Pedro Gomez's head to the following burning question:

What are the chances that Barry Bonds can still break Hank Aaron's home run record?

Well, it's time to change the subject (at least for the next minute and a half).

Because it may turn out we've devoted all that debating to the wrong guy.

Barry and Hank ... meet A-Rod.

On Wednesday night at Miller Park, Alex Rodriguez became the first player in history to hit his 400th home run before the age of 30. Let's try to give you some perspective on what that means.

A-Rod passes Al Kaline and Andres Galarraga on the all-time homer list.
That's two years and three months younger than Aaron was when he hit No. 400.

It's almost two and a half years younger than Willie Mays was when he hit No. 400.

It's four years and two months younger than Bonds was when he hit No. 400.

It's four years and seven months younger than Mark McGwire was when he hit No. 400.


Or think about this another way. A-Rod could blow out his knee, or have Tommy John surgery, or find some other reason not to play another game until 2007 and still have more home runs than any of those guys had at the same age.

But since we haven't seen Dr. James Andrews lurking around his locker lately, we're assuming that won't be happening. So as Barry pops his antibiotics and does his knee stretches, Alex Rodriguez just keeps on making those home run trots.

Another 355 of them, and he and Hank can do a MasterCard commercial.

But what are the odds that A-Rod can actually hit another 355 home runs? Even at his young age, they're not as good as you think.

For one thing, let's remind you that 355 home runs is a gigantic number of homers. It's more than Boog Powell, Dick Allen, Darryl Strawberry, George Brett, Dave Parker and about 400,000 other men hit in their whole careers, as a matter of fact.

And the other thing we all need to remind ourselves always is that we have no idea (NONE!) how many seasons, how many at-bats, how many opportunities Alex Rodriguez will get, over the rest of his career, to break that record.

Maybe he'll keep cranking out big home run years into his late 30s and early 40s, like Aaron and Bonds. But the odds say he won't.

Mays and Mickey Mantle started sliding precipitously at age 36. McGwire was done at 37.

Jimmie Foxx hit 379 home runs before he turned 30. But he was all but washed up by age 33.

And then there's Junior Griffey.

Could Griffey's career, before age 30, possibly have been more A-Rod-esque? He was the No. 1 pick in the draft and arrived, as a teenager, in Seattle. He hit 398 home runs before his 30th birthday. He'd had a few freak injuries in his 20s, but nothing ominous.

And then, just as we were all about halfway through our big Why Junior Will Pass Hank term papers, you know what happened:

Griffey turned into a walking HMO ad.

Maybe that will happen to A-Rod. Maybe it won't. But not even baseballpsychic.com can tell you that answer. That part is up to the baseball gods.

So all we can do is look to the past for guidance. And that's what we did. We studied what happens to the great sluggers after they blow out the candles on their 30th birthday cake. The results are fascinating:

Of the top 10 names on the all-time homer list, nine of them had a season that produced the best home run ratios of their careers after they turned 30. So that's good.

But only two of them (Aaron and Bonds) had that season in their late 30s. So that's bad.

Of those same 10 hitters, eight (all but Frank Robinson and Harmon Killebrew) hit more home runs after turning 30 than before. So that's good.

But of the top 15 no-longer-active players on the Most Homers Before Turning 30 list, a whopping dozen (everyone but Aaron, Ruth and Mays) tailed off and hit fewer homers after 30 than before. So that's bad.

Since A-Rod is still about a month and a half from turning 30, let's assume he would need to hit "only" 340 homers after age 30 to catch Aaron. At least that's not unprecedented, since six players in history have done it: Bonds, Aaron, Ruth, Mays, McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. So that's good.

But none of those six was a middle infielder or third baseman positions that tend to produce more physical wear and tear than the outfield, first base or DH. Just two players who primarily played shortstop even hit 200 homers after age 30 Ernie Banks (243) and Cal Ripken (211). The only third baseman to make a run at 340 was Mike Schmidt (314). So that's bad.

And we shouldn't forget where Rodriguez plays i.e. Yankee Stadium. The reason this is still the House That Ruth Built is that no right-handed hitters have ever threatened to foreclose on the Babe. The only right-handed slugger who played more than five years in Yankee Stadium after age 30 and approached 300 post-30 home runs was Dave Winfield (298). Joe DiMaggio never even hit 150. Hmmm. Maybe A-Rod should ask to get traded again.


So what does all this say about Rodriguez's chances of passing the Hammer?

For that answer, we asked Dan Heisman, a sabermetrician who for years has used Bill James' formulas to analyze active players' odds of achieving certain milestones.

What did Heisman find? That Rodriguez doesn't even have the best chance of any active player to set this record.

Theoretically, Bonds still does (a 78-percent chance), mostly because he's so close. But of course, we don't know where Bonds' physical, legal or tax-investigation highways are leading him. So let's just say no mathematical formulas apply to him at the moment.

That would leave A-Rod as the next most likely at 40 percent followed by Sammy Sosa (a fast-dropping 25 percent), Albert Pujols (15 percent). Jim Thome (11 percent) and Manny Ramirez (4 percent).


So obviously, of the candidates not named Bonds, A-Rod has put himself in much better position than any other active player. But even that 40-percent calculation tells you he's a stronger bet not to catch Aaron than to catch him.

And remember, at exactly the same age, Griffey was rated a 42-percent chance to arrive in Aaron-ville. Now, just five years later, Junior's chances look a little worse.

As in zero.

So as A-Rod celebrates No. 400, feel free to applaud the feat and savor the moment. Then it'll be time to kick off this very argument at a tavern near you.

Why do we have a feeling we'll still be kicking at it in the year 2013?
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Old 06-09-05, 01:17 PM
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Interesting thread...

I, personally, would love to see Arod do it. O personally do not like Bonds. He's a great player, but no Mr. Baseball like an Arod or Jeter is. When we look just at the remaining numbers, it seems easy for Arod (well, plausable at least) to achieve this. But, be damned if there is ALWAYS something else that comes into play. McGwire looked like a sure shoot in 97. I mean, he was tearing through home runs. Then he started with pains and losing his swing. He retired not forcing it. Then Bonds comes along, adding to his terror. But now...I don't know. He may not even play again! Griffey, way awesome and in a mid-life-crisis-career-slump thingy.
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Old 06-09-05, 01:20 PM
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A-Rod could hit 800, but unless the game changes, I'll find Hank's 755 in a pitcher's era to be more impressive.

I remember a few years ago when people were saying Sosa had a good shot.
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Old 06-09-05, 02:10 PM
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Active Career Homerun Leaders with at least 300

Player G AB R H HR RBI BB SB OBP SLG AVG
B Bonds* 2716 9098 2070 2730 703 1843 2302 506 0.443 0.611 0.300
S Sosa* 2181 8182 1400 2260 580 1548 873 234 0.347 0.542 0.276
R Palmeiro* 2780 10294 1640 2970 559 1803 1332 97 0.371 0.515 0.289
K Griffey* 2051 7587 1347 2213 510 1483 1006 178 0.376 0.558 0.292
F McGriff* 2460 8757 1349 2490 493 1550 1305 72 0.377 0.509 0.284
J Bagwell* 2135 7785 1517 2311 449 1525 1400 202 0.408 0.541 0.297
F Thomas* 1931 6865 1312 2117 438 1442 1452 32 0.429 0.568 0.308
J Gonzalez* 1689 6556 1061 1936 434 1404 457 26 0.343 0.561 0.295
J Thome* 1719 5854 1143 1651 426 1182 1244 18 0.409 0.564 0.282
G Sheffield* 2093 7510 1341 2238 425 1391 1240 211 0.401 0.528 0.298
M Ramirez* 1591 5777 1099 1812 401 1313 900 34 0.409 0.595 0.314
A Rodriguez* 1489 5806 1169 1777 400 1149 677 210 0.383 0.576 0.306
M Piazza* 1642 5990 956 1876 384 1189 684 17 0.383 0.557 0.313
L Walker* 1936 6755 1325 2109 373 1281 892 229 0.400 0.565 0.312
C Delgado* 1479 5211 922 1478 348 1100 852 9 0.393 0.557 0.284
T Martinez* 1943 6963 994 1889 334 1254 763 26 0.345 0.473 0.271
C Jones* 1590 5772 1065 1749 317 1065 971 119 0.401 0.536 0.303
J Kent* 1834 6820 1079 1971 314 1256 618 88 0.352 0.506 0.289
J Edmonds* 1501 5276 1009 1547 313 945 770 55 0.384 0.543 0.293
V Castilla* 1681 6253 847 1752 308 1043 392 32 0.325 0.488 0.280
R Sierra* 2132 7892 1073 2119 304 1300 599 142 0.316 0.452 0.268
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Old 06-09-05, 03:23 PM
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A-Rod has been A-Fraud all his career. King of the meaningless homers. I'd say about 3/4 of his homers came during blowouts. Where the fuck was he when the Yankees were losing a close game to Milwaukee two days ago?
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Old 06-09-05, 03:44 PM
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A-Rod will only break Aaron's record if he stays healthy, and that's a huge IF...
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Old 06-09-05, 03:59 PM
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lol,I knew it wouldn't take long before this degenerated into an A-Rod bashing. What does the debate about if he is a clutch player or not have to do with his chances of catching Aaron?
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Old 06-09-05, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Elldubtoo
A-Rod has been A-Fraud all his career. King of the meaningless homers. I'd say about 3/4 of his homers came during blowouts. Where the fuck was he when the Yankees were losing a close game to Milwaukee two days ago?


Ignoring for a moment the fact that there is absolutely no such thing as a meaningless homer, particularly given the offense we have seen in baseball over the last ten years, do you have any statistical evidence of this statement?
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Old 06-09-05, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by gilbertr76
A-Rod will only break Aaron's record if he stays healthy, and that's a huge IF...



also how old is pujols and where is he in the "chase" compared to a-rod?

not sure if it is in the article, but a-rod has talked about quitting baseball when his contract is up in 2010 (or 11)

Last edited by j123vt_99; 06-09-05 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 06-09-05, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Pharoh
Ignoring for a moment the fact that there is absolutely no such thing as a meaningless homer, particularly given the offense we have seen in baseball over the last ten years, do you have any statistical evidence of this statement?

Just look at how he's been doing this year. A few big games and countless 0 for 4.


or the 2004 ALCS when they needed him the most...
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Old 06-09-05, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Elldubtoo
A-Rod has been A-Fraud all his career. King of the meaningless homers. I'd say about 3/4 of his homers came during blowouts. Where the fuck was he when the Yankees were losing a close game to Milwaukee two days ago?
A-Rod has hit over .300, has a .452 OBP, with 9 runs, 6 RBI, and 3 HR in 10 one-run games this year.

Extrapolate that over 162 games, and you'd have 146 runs scored, 97 RBI, and 49 HR. Numbers don't support your "theory" very well.
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Old 06-09-05, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeremy517
A-Rod has hit over .300, has a .452 OBP, with 9 runs, 6 RBI, and 3 HR in 10 one-run games this year.

Extrapolate that over 162 games, and you'd have 146 runs scored, 97 RBI, and 49 HR. Numbers don't support your "theory" very well.

Shit.

I guess I'll go back to making A-Rod and Jeter are gay jokes.

Later!
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Old 06-09-05, 06:15 PM
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The amount of walks Bonds has for his career is freakin crazy.
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Old 06-09-05, 06:15 PM
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TWIKOFF -

Cursious, do you happen to have that stats' sheet with Plate Appearances rather than AB's? I know that might help explain the possibilities. Bonds have twice as many AB's but how many more plate appearances since the poor guy gets wakled 200 times a season!

Just a curious point - notice Bonds is the only player with outstanding stolen base numbers...it's a lost stat.... : (
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Old 06-09-05, 06:20 PM
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WOW! Check this out:

Bonds:
AB's: 9098
BB's: 2302
--------
PA's:11,400
HR's:703
--------
1 HR per 16.216 PA's


A-Rod:
AB's: 5806
BB's: 677
--------
PA's:6483
HR's:400
--------
1 HR per 16.208 PA's

Almost identical!!! Over a career, that's awesome! My first inclination would be to say A-Rod will slow down as he gets older but in the case of Bonds, McGwire, and arguablly Sosa, they increased in HR's past 30!

This ought to be interesting in 8 years,.,.,.
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Old 06-09-05, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeremy517
A-Rod has hit over .300, has a .452 OBP, with 9 runs, 6 RBI, and 3 HR in 10 one-run games this year.

Extrapolate that over 162 games, and you'd have 146 runs scored, 97 RBI, and 49 HR. Numbers don't support your "theory" very well.
Wow, what a clutch performer.

Lets take a look at the 10 1 run games.

Apr 5th: Yankees win. A-Rod goes 0-3

Apr 16th: Yankees lose A-Rod goes 2-5 with a Ground Rule double in the 7th. Then grounds out in the 8th.

Apr 21st: Yanks win. A-Rod goes 1-3 with a single in the 6th.

Apr 3oth: Yankees win. A-Rod is 1-3 with a clutch HR...in the 4th inning.

May 9th: Yankees win. A-Rod goes 1-2 with a double and run scored in the 4th.

May 18th: Yankees lose. A-Rod with a clutch 3 run HR...in the 1st inning. A-Rod then scores in the 3rd. In the 9th inning, he grounds into a FC.

May 26th Yankees win. A-Rod with a clutch 2 run HR...in the 5th inning.

June 4th: Yankees win. A-Rod gets a key single in the 7th inning.

June 6th: Yankees lose. A-Rod goes 0-2 with a strikeout in the 8th

June 7th: Yankees lose. A-Rod goes 0-4 with a Fielders choice out in the 8th.


A-Rod does not hit many clutch HRs, especially for a guy that has 400. While A-Rod's HRs are not "meaningless", I dont remember him hitting very many game winning HRs in the 8th and 9th innings. There was one walk off grand slam against the Red Sox while he was a Ranger, But it does seem that many of his HRs do not affect the games outcome.
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Old 06-09-05, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by chrisih8u
Wow, what a clutch performer.

Lets take a look at the 10 1 run games.

Apr 5th: Yankees win. A-Rod goes 0-3

Apr 16th: Yankees lose A-Rod goes 2-5 with a Ground Rule double in the 7th. Then grounds out in the 8th.

Apr 21st: Yanks win. A-Rod goes 1-3 with a single in the 6th.

Apr 3oth: Yankees win. A-Rod is 1-3 with a clutch HR...in the 4th inning.

May 9th: Yankees win. A-Rod goes 1-2 with a double and run scored in the 4th.

May 18th: Yankees lose. A-Rod with a clutch 3 run HR...in the 1st inning. A-Rod then scores in the 3rd. In the 9th inning, he grounds into a FC.

May 26th Yankees win. A-Rod with a clutch 2 run HR...in the 5th inning.

June 4th: Yankees win. A-Rod gets a key single in the 7th inning.

June 6th: Yankees lose. A-Rod goes 0-2 with a strikeout in the 8th

June 7th: Yankees lose. A-Rod goes 0-4 with a Fielders choice out in the 8th.


A-Rod does not hit many clutch HRs, especially for a guy that has 400. While A-Rod's HRs are not "meaningless", I dont remember him hitting very many game winning HRs in the 8th and 9th innings. There was one walk off grand slam against the Red Sox while he was a Ranger, But it does seem that many of his HRs do not affect the games outcome.

There is almost no such thing as a clutch homerun or hit. They are myths perpetrated by ESPN style reporting. A two-run homerun in the fifth or a three-run homerun in the 1st inning is every single bit as important as a hit or homerun in the 8th inning.

Now, if you could show me a sample size large enough to be relevant involving at-bats in the last two innings of 3 runs or less games with risp, and then show that A-Rod falls far below both the other homerun leaders and his peers, I will cede that he is not a 'clutch' player.
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Old 06-09-05, 07:31 PM
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I would agree on the above stats.

The stats listed in the games do not reflex the game at all. Maybe Arod had a "clutch" sacrafice that scored a tieing run. Maybe he had a key walk that aloud him to score. All of these play a HUGE role in any ball game. Also, as stated, every run is important regardless of when it is.

Anyhow...back to the home runs...
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Old 06-09-05, 07:37 PM
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He might or might not be "clutch" (but I agree with Pharoh). Elldubtoo said that Rodriguez has been worthless in close games. I think we can all agree that those numbers aren't worthless.

On base 19 times in 10 games, scoring 9 runs in 10 games, 3 HR in 10 games. OK sure, he doesn't affect the games outcome Four of their six one-run wins are losses without his production.

May 26th Yankees win. A-Rod with a clutch 2 run HR...in the 5th inning.
You forgot to mention that they went from down 1 to up 1, and that it was the game-winning runs.

Apr 3oth: Yankees win. A-Rod is 1-3 with a clutch HR...in the 4th inning.
You forgot to mention that he got on base in the 9th inning. The next batter hit into a fielder's choice and became the winning run.
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Old 06-09-05, 07:48 PM
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I'm not an A-Rod fan, but saying the guy isn't clutch is radiculous! It's friggin' Major League Baseball! Every hit, homerun, RBI, etc. is clutch. It's not like these guys only feel pressure in the 8th and 9th innings.

You also have to consider the fact that an early inning HR can both motivate the hitter's teammates and crush the spirit of the opposing team. Take yesterday's game for example. A-Rod's 1st inning HR put the Brewers in the hole from the get go and got the Yankee offense going. His second HR of the game was pretty much the nail in the coffin.
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Old 06-09-05, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Pharoh
There is almost no such thing as a clutch homerun or hit. They are myths perpetrated by ESPN style reporting. A two-run homerun in the fifth or a three-run homerun in the 1st inning is every single bit as important as a hit or homerun in the 8th inning.

Now, if you could show me a sample size large enough to be relevant involving at-bats in the last two innings of 3 runs or less games with risp, and then show that A-Rod falls far below both the other homerun leaders and his peers, I will cede that he is not a 'clutch' player.

An at bat in the 8th and 9th inning when down by a run or two is more of a pressure situation than in the 1st inning. Of course hitting a HR in the 1st isnt meaningless, but the theory that A-Rod's HRs usually come in blowouts is valid, IMO, and not disproved with his 3 in 1 run games. It seems that he never has a late inning or walkoff HR that decides games.
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Old 06-09-05, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by gilbertr76
I'm not an A-Rod fan, but saying the guy isn't clutch is radiculous! It's friggin' Major League Baseball! Every hit, homerun, RBI, etc. is clutch. It's not like these guys only feel pressure in the 8th and 9th innings.

You also have to consider the fact that an early inning HR can both motivate the hitter's teammates and crush the spirit of the opposing team. Take yesterday's game for example. A-Rod's 1st inning HR put the Brewers in the hole from the get go and got the Yankee offense going. His second HR of the game was pretty much the nail in the coffin.
Yesterday's game is an example of what Im talking about. 2 homeruns in a blowout victory. Sure they helped the Yankees, but it seems that an overwhelming majority dont affect his team winning. I dont know how to prove it, but I think that if you looked at all of his HRs, an uneven number would come in blowout victories.
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Old 06-09-05, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Bose Pro
I would agree on the above stats.

The stats listed in the games do not reflex the game at all. Maybe Arod had a "clutch" sacrafice that scored a tieing run. Maybe he had a key walk that aloud him to score. All of these play a HUGE role in any ball game. Also, as stated, every run is important regardless of when it is.

Anyhow...back to the home runs...
You could be right. But Im talking about his HR total.
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Old 06-09-05, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by chrisih8u
I dont know how to prove it, but I think that if you looked at all of his HRs, an uneven number would come in blowout victories.
Three HR in ten one-run games extrapolates to 49 in a 162 game season, which is more than he had in each of the last three years. The sample size is small, of course, but it certainly doesn't help your argument.

Last edited by Jeremy517; 06-09-05 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 06-09-05, 08:21 PM
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3 of his 18 HRs have been in 1 run games.

12 of his 18 HRs have been in games decided by 6 or more runs.
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