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Are the Twins hitting too many home runs?

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Or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomba

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Twins have hit a lot of home runs this season. Like... a historic amount of bombas. But is it too many? I can’t say I subscribe to that theory, which has been floating around lately, but as I understand it, the idea is that home runs are somewhat luck-based, and therefore are an unsustainable source of offense.

So how much of the Twins offense is from home runs? According the the event finder on baseball-reference.com (which is a subscription service, so you might just have to take my word for it,) the Twins have hit a total of 255 dingers, and scored a total of 395 runs that way. That is 1.55 runs per bomba, as an aside. The 2019 Twins have totaled 764 runs scored, so “California math” says that 51.7% of all runs they have scored this season have come off a dong. That sounds like a lot at first glance, but does it stack up to other teams in the “juiced ball” era.

The first team we should probably compare to is the notoriously homer-dependant Yankees, who also happen to be the best team in the AL, and tied with the Dodgers overall. The Bronx Bombers have scored 390 runs on 246 home runs, which works out 1.58 runs per, slightly higher than the Twins, but probably not in a statistically significant way. The Yanks have totaled 784 runs overall, so only 49.7% of their runs have been on homers. This is obviously lower than the Twins total, but not significantly. This, of course, is coming from a team that is infamous for being over-dependant on the long ball, so lets look at a couple other MLB leaders.

The Houston Astros are leading the AL West, supposedly on the strength of their pitching staff. They have still hit 225 homers this season, and scored 367 runs that way, or 1.63 runs per bomba. That’s a big jump from the Twins’ and Yankees’ figures. The Astros have put up 739 total runs, and therefore are actually scoring a higher percentage of runs on homers, at 52.7%.

The Dodgers, who are tied with the Yankees currently for winning percentage, and are widely considered the best team in baseball, have hit 231 bombas, resulting in 367 runs; or 1.58 runs per dong. Their 731 total runs means that almost exactly half, 50.2%, of their runs are from the home run.

So far, it looks like the Twins are more-or-less on par with the other teams leading baseball, but before we move on to comparing them with a couple of “lesser” teams, lets look at one more good team, since you’re probably curious. Cleveland has only hit a paltry 185 home runs, and scored 274 runs by doing so. That’s 1.48 runs per infrequent bomba. They’ve also only scored 626 runs, clocking only 43.8% of those on dingers.

The Diamondbacks, Brewers, and Giants are the closest things to .500 teams in baseball right now, so we can attempt to use them as a bit of a “control group” for this exercise. Arizona has 295 runs scored on 192 homers. With a total of 680 runs, that’s 43.4%. Milwaukee is at 326 runs and 209 bombas, and 627 total runs. That is 52.0% of all runs scored via roundtripper. As for San Francisco, its 144 homers and 228 runs via the dong. The Giants have scored only 583 runs, and only 39.1% have been by long ball. The take away so far is that good teams score a higher percentage of runs via homer, and mediocre teams are all over the board. Let’s look at a sample of “bad” teams to see if this is borne out across the board.

The Detroit Tigers are the worst team in baseball this season, winning in barely over 3 out of every ten games. They have scored 175 runs by hitting 121 home runs, and have totaled 471 runs. That means only 26.5% of their runs are from going yard. Scarely better, the Orioles have had a ton of dongs stroked against them, but haven’t necessarily hit many themselves. Baltimore has hit 168, and scored 269 that way. With 575 total runs, that equates to 46.8%. The Rockies are also a bad team, but the thin air of Coors Field allows balls to leave the park at a relatively high rate. That being said, the Rox have only hit 175 dingers, and have scored 281 runs that way. With the Rockies scoring 699 runs this season, that means only 40.2% of their runs have been on home runs. Maybe we can put that theory about the “Coors factor” to bed now, huh?

Across the entire MLB, there have been 5549 homers hit this season. Those dongs have scored a total of 8697 runs. That’s 1.57 runs per bomba, which seems to be a very consistent number. The best approximation I can find for total league runs is 18,907, but that is based off “plate appearances” so there may be a few flukey runs that aren’t counted. Still, the numbers are large enough at this point that a rounding error won’t throw much off. This equates to 46.0% of all runs scored this season being scored by home runs. The Twins are a little above average—but that should be expected when you’re one of the top teams in the league.

Without looking at all 30 MLB teams individually (which neither you as a reader, or I as a blogger would probably find a productive use of time,) it’s hard to know for sure, but from our little sample of about 13 of the league, it looks like the Twins are scoring off of home runs at a perfectly acceptable pace, and furthermore, it looks like there is a general correlation between the amount of runs scored by home runs, and a team’s place in the standings. I’m convinced now, the idea that the Twins are scoring too much via home runs is complete bunk, and you should immediately dismiss the argument if you happen across it.

Poll

Should the Twins hit more Bombas?

This poll is closed

  • 96%
    YES!
    (791 votes)
  • 3%
    No, because I’m not a Twins fan
    (27 votes)
818 votes total Vote Now