Harper, Upton, Stanton play to strengths

Let’s go inside the longball and summarize some of our best notes on the day’s most notable homer-hitters.

Harper and Ott … expect that a lot

Bryce Harper’s ninth home run came in the Nationals 24th team game. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that the only player under age 21 to hit more home runs than that within his team's first 24 games is Hall of Famer Mel Ott, who had 10 for the 1929 Giants.

Most HR Under Age 21
MLB History

Harper has played in 23 of the Nationals 24 games. It took Harper 75 games played to hit his ninth home run last season.

Harper now has 31 home runs for his career, just over halfway to Ott’s total of 61, which ranks as the most for someone before they turned 21.

What has led to Harper’s success this season? Dominance of the inner half of the plate has been a big part of it. He’s 16-for-32 in at-bats that end with pitches on the inner-half of the plate, or off the inside corner.

Harper’s home run on Saturday came on a pitch knee-high, on the inside corner. Seven of his home runs this season came on inner-half pitches. He had nine such home runs last season.

Justin Upton keeps pace

Justin Upton hit a 423-foot home run in the Atlanta Braves loss to the Detroit Tigers.

Most HR in March/April
Single Season (MLB History)

That basically matched Upton’s average homer distance for the season, a major-league best 423.5 feet

All 12 of Upton's home runs have measured at least 400 feet.

Upton is two home runs shy for the major-league record for the most by the end of April. Albert Pujols set the mark with 14 for the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals and Alex Rodriguez tied that with 14 the following season for the New York Yankees.

Upton’s success has come against pitches in the lower-half of the strike zone, or below the knees. Saturday’s homer was his 10th against a lower-half pitch. He had a dozen home runs against pitches to that area last season.

Stanton finally hits one out

Giancarlo Stanton’s first home run of the season came in the Miami Marlins 18th game of the season and was a prodigious blast, calculated at 440 feet by ESPN Home Run Tracker.

Stanton has nine home runs of at least 440 feet since the start of 2012, tied with Miguel Cabrera for most in the majors.

It actually took Stanton longer to hit his first home run last season (20 games). The homer was only his second extra-base hit in his last 59 plate appearances.

Stanton homered against an inner-half pitch, something he did 21 times last season. He averaged a homer for every 42 pitches to that area last season. He has one in 153 inner-half pitches this season.

Stanton’s biggest issue this season is that he hasn’t gotten many pitches to hit. As a result, similar to past seasons, he’s extended his swing area a bit. That’s gotten him into trouble. He’s made 29 outs this season against pitches out of the strike zone, tied for eighth-most in the majors.