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The Giants could lead the majors in home runs and not have a 30-homer hitter

The Giants haven’t had a 30-homer hitter since Barry Bonds in 2004.

Houston Astros v San Francisco Giants Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants haven’t had a hitter hit 30 or more home runs in a season since Barry Bonds in 2004. Every time I hear that fact, I think, “That can’t possibly be right,” and I Google “Who was the last Giant to hit 30 home runs in a season?” The first result is an article written by me reaffirming the fact and still, I think, “No way. I’m telling me that Barry Bonds didn’t do it in 2005, 2006, or 2007? That Buster Posey won Rookie of the Year and an MVP without doing it? That Hunter Pence didn’t do it in 2013? That the juiced ball didn’t let Brandon Belt do it?”

But it’s true. Even in an era where the likes of Paul DeJong, Rougned Odor, and Randall Grichuk can have a 30-homer season, no Giant has even come close. No Giant has hit more than 24 in a season since Pence hit 27 in 2013.

The Giants have the longest 30-homer season drought in Major League Baseball, and it might be extended this year. Mike Yastrzemski and Brandon Crawford share the team lead with 18. Kris Bryant has 19 homers on the year, but 18 of those came with his old team. However, since he would show up on a Stathead search of “Giants with HR >= 30,” he counts for our purposes.

That’s worth pointing out if for no other reason than to say, “lol giants,” but as of Tuesday morning, the Giants led the majors in total home runs. The Giants have a decent shot at ending the year with the home run crown, but they’ll need Yaz or DJ BC Raw to go on a tear to finish with a 30-homer hitter.

It’s definitely unusual for a team to lead the majors in home runs with a 30-homer season from at least one player. The Blue Jays, the team threatening the Giants for the title, already have a 30-homer hitter. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. passed the mark on July 16 when he hit two against the Texas Rangers. The reigning home runs champs, the 2019 Minnesota Twins, had five players clear the 30-homer threshold. Giancarlo Stanton hit 38 for the 2018 Yankees. The 2017 Empire had Gary Sánchez hit 33 while Aaron Judge hit 52.

The 1989 New York Mets, who only needed 141 home runs to lead the majors, had Howard Johnson club 36. That’s 20 fewer home runs than the Giants have already hit, and they still had one guy reach the 30-homer milestone. To find a team that led the majors in dingers without a 30-homer hitter, we need to go all the way back to 1986. That Detroit Tigers had eight different players reach double-digits, but the team leader, Darrell Evans, fell one short at 29.

Like the ‘86 Tigers, the Giants also have eight players who have hit 10 or more homers this year. Yastrzemski and Crawford are leading the way, but Wilmer Flores, Buster Posey, LaMonte Wade Jr., Darin Ruf, Brandon Belt, and Alex Dickerson aren’t that far behind. Austin Slater and Evan Longoria, who is likely to begin a rehab assignment soon, are just one away from double digits.

Giants HR Pace

Player Current HR PA/HR HR per 600 PA On Pace For
Player Current HR PA/HR HR per 600 PA On Pace For
Kris Bryant 19 20.2 29.7 29
Mike Yastrzemski 18 20.4 29.4 28
Brandon Crawford 18 18.6 32.3 28
Wilmer Flores 14 22.3 26.9 21
Buster Posey 13 21.2 28.3 20
LaMonte Wade Jr. 13 14.4 41.7 20
Darin Ruf 12 16.2 37.0 18
Brandon Belt 11 18.3 32.8 17
Alex Dickerson 11 21.1 28.4 17

As of Tuesday morning, no Giant is on pace to crack 30. “On pace” here means that they’ve hit X home runs in the Giants’ first 106 games, so they’ll hit Y homers in the remaining 56 games. Linearly extrapolated like this is dicey. If you plan to flip a coin 50 times, and the first three times come up “heads, tails, heads,” you can’t say that you’re on pace for 33 heads and 17 tails. You might get that result, but it’s far more likely that you’ll wind up close to an even split.

Baseball players are nowhere near as regular as coin flips either. Crawford, for instance, has hit a home run every 18.6 plate appearances, but he’s hit just one homer since July 1. He missed time on the IL, and the All-Star break meant everyone played fewer games, but that’s still one home run in his last 64 plate appearances.

Instead, I have simulated the remainder of the season 1,000 times each for the Giants' top-three home run hitters: Bryant, Crawford, and Yastrzemski. For each plate appearance, I performed a “coin flip” where one side was “Hit a Dinger!” and the other side was “Do not hit a dinger :(” To do this, I had to estimate the chances of each player hitting a home run and their number of remaining plate appearances. To get both variables, I, uh, linearly extrapolated from their pace thus far, which I know I just said not to do. But I don’t know a better way of doing it.

Anyway, in the simulations I ran, each player wound up with 30 or more homers less than half the time. In Crawford and Yastrzemski’s case, they reached 30 only about a quarter of the time.

Giants 30 HR Seasons

Player PA per G Remaining PA HR Odds Not HR Odds 30 HR Seasons (Out of 1000)
Player PA per G Remaining PA HR Odds Not HR Odds 30 HR Seasons (Out of 1000)
Crawford 3.15 176 5.39% 94.61% 252
Yastrzemski 3.47 194 4.89% 95.11% 249
Bryant 3.61 202 4.96% 95.04% 435

It’s more helpful to look at the histograms of the simulations. These were done Tuesday afternoon, so if any of these players homered in last night’s game, mentally move the red line to the left accordingly. In most seasons, Crawford ended with 26 home runs, but he finished with as many as 37 and as few as 18.

For Mike Yastrzemski, it was about as likely that he would only end up with 24 as he would with 30. Most of the time, he ended the season with 28.

Naturally, Bryant, the home run leader, has a much higher chance of reaching the 30-homer milestone. If he doesn’t get there, he’ll at least make it close.

Whether a Giant reaches 30 homers this season and breaks a 17-year drought is ultimately arbitrary. They’ve shown they can win without one player going bananas. If they manage to finish first in dingers without a 30-homer season, you simply must respect the Giants’ commitment to the bit.

Kenny Kelly is the managing editor of Beyond the Box Score.