Dave Cameron at FanGraphs makes a terrific point about actual HR power during the “steroid era”. To quote Cameron:
“If you put forth the current run environment as an example of what baseball looks like without PEDs, please understand that you are arguing that PEDs caused hitters to be able to make contact more often, not hit the ball over the wall more often when they did make contact.”
His chart is very informative since it actually uses data instead of wild guesses about what happened in baseball during the 1990s.
A few additions to add to Cameron’s fine work:
- The HR/PA rate in 2012 was identical to that of 1998 (2.7% each season).
- The year Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs, 1998, 7.8% of fly-balls went over the fence. This number jumped to 8.1% in 2012.
- During 2012 Ike was the leading power hitter in all of baseball away from their home park (.305 ISO).
- The 2nd best power hitter in the NL away from home was fellow 2nd half All-Star Buster Posey (.256 ISO).
- While his walk-to-strikeout rate is poor against lefties and righties, Davis should be very happy that God made him left-handed. His power bat feasted vs. right-handed pitching to the tune of .270 ISO (4th best in NL).
- Despite his lower Hits/Balls In Play rate (only 25%) the overall power stroke improved by 33% from his other full season (2010).
- WAR is not the biggest fan of Davis. Due to the poor fielding, base-running, H/BIP and K% scores Ike really is a one-trick pony. The 1.6 WAR ranked Davis 8th out of NL 1B in 2012. Assuming his offense remains steady and his fielding improves to rookie year standards (+10 runs) Davis would bump his ranking to 3 slots to 5th on the 2013 list.
How much is a +3 WAR first baseman worth? Here are select 2012 salaries for comparison:
Fortunately for ownership Davis doesn’t reach free-agency until age 30 at which point his peak should be behind him. It will be very interesting to see how much he’s awarded in his first year of arbitration this off-season.
Stats thanks to FanGraphs