Bumgarner became both the first pitcher to hit multiple home runs in an Opening Day game, per Elias Sports Bureau research, and the most prolific homer-hitting pitcher in franchise history in Sunday’s game. The two he hit on Sunday give him 16 for his career, easily the most among active pitchers.
He became the first pitcher to hit two home runs and strike out at least 10 in a game since Rick Wise of the 1971 Phillies (who also had 11 strikeouts against the Giants). Via Elias research, Bumgarner’s 11 strikeouts were the most by a Giants pitcher on Opening Day since the mound moved to its current distance from home plate in 1893. He also took a perfect-game bid through 5⅓ innings and would have gotten the win but for a rough outing from the Giants' bullpen.
Bumgarner's hitting was what wowed the most on Sunday. He’s the second pitcher in as many seasons with a multi-homer game, joining Noah Syndergaard. Bumgarner’s seven go-ahead home runs (including Sunday’s seventh-inning blast) match former Cardinals pitcher Bob Forsch for the most by a pitcher since the DH was implemented in 1973.
What makes Bumgarner such a potent home run hitter? Here’s a closer look at his 16 home runs.
The ins, outs, ups and downs
Bumgarner is dangerous because he can hit the inside pitch and reach the outside pitch. He has nine home runs against inner-half pitches and seven against outer-half pitches.
Not surprisingly, he likes the ball up so he can muscle it out of the park. He has 11 home runs and a .247 career batting average against pitches in the upper-half of the strike zone (or above the zone) and .133 with five home runs against pitches in the lower-half of the zone (or below the knees).
To put the .247 into context, that actually is only slightly below average for a position player (the average for a major leaguer is typically in the low .260s). Bumgarner’s upper-half batting average is four points higher than Mike Trout’s career mark. And his slugging percentage is .447 (of course, Trout’s on-base percentage and slugging percentage are both notably higher).
His homers on Sunday were both on fastballs. He has 13 home runs on those pitches in his career, by far the most of any pitcher on fastballs since the start of the 2009 season. Yovani Gallardo and Travis Wood are second with seven each.
But he’s also capable of hitting an offering other than a fastball over the fence. Bumgarner has one home run on a changeup and two on sliders. The only other pitcher since 2009 with multiple slider home runs is Gallardo (also two).
Bumgarner has hit all of his home runs to left or left-center. The two that he has hit closest to being to center field are the two that he hit against Zack Greinke -- one in 2014 and one on Sunday. His two home runs on Sunday were calculated at 410 and 404 feet. He now has five home runs of at least 410 feet, all in the past six seasons.
Sunday’s 410-foot home run had a speed off the bat of 110.7 mph, the fastest-hit home run of Bumgarner’s career. The Giants only had one home run last season that had a faster velocity- a 110.8 mph home run by Brandon Crawford against the Padres last May 19.
Elias Sports Bureau: Did you know?
Bumgarner is the second pitcher with multiple Opening Day home runs. The only other pitcher with multiple Opening Day home runs overall is Hall of Fame Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale, but his were in separate games-- one in 1959 against the Cubs and one in 1965 against the Mets.