San Francisco Giants starter Madison Bumgarner isn't just one of the best pitchers in baseball. He's one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball. And now he wants to be in this year's Home Run Derby, though his manager objects. What is most noteworthy about Bumgarner's power?
He can really slug
Bumgarner isn’t the automatic out that most pitchers are. Over the past five seasons, the average pitcher in baseball is slugging .165. Bumgarner? He’s slugging .344. Over just the past two seasons, his slugging percentage is .440.
In Babe Ruth's first three full seasons in the majors, from 1915 to 1917, he served exclusively as a pitcher, making 109 starts and posting a 2.07 ERA. He also hit nine home runs in 361 at-bats, a homer once every 40 at-bats. Over the past three seasons, Bumgarner has 11 home runs in 175 at-bats, a rate of once every 15.9 at-bats.
Stacking up to other sluggers
Since 2012, 453 players have hit at least 10 home runs. Bumgarner’s average HR distance of 399.9 feet in that time ranks 158th among those players.
He also owns a higher home run rate (6 percent) over the past two seasons than all but 14 players with at least 100 plate appearances over that span.
But how does Bumgarner stack up to the field at last year’s Home Run Derby? His home run rate of 6 percent of his plate appearances over the past two seasons is a better rate than any of the eight hitters in last season’s field.
That includes Todd Frazier, last year’s champion, who is hitting a home run in 5.8 percent of his plate appearances over the past two seasons.
Of course, Bumgarner’s sample size is much smaller, but it’s still a significant accomplishment.
Petco not the best place?
Though Bumgarner can slug with the best of them, Petco Park, the site of this year's Home Run Derby, has not been his favorite place to hit.
Bumgarner is 3-for-24 lifetime at Petco, with no home runs. According to Elias Sports Bureau research, that’s the most at-bats he has in any major league venue in which he has not hit a home run.