Travis Hafner, Homeruns and Andy Marte

The argument has been made that September statistics are fundamentally different than statistics from the rest of the year. There's an obvious logic to this: as rosters expand and teams are eliminated, more, worse players begin to both pitch and hit as team's evaluate young players, give starts to AAA veterans and everyone generally becomes bored. It was in the spirit of considering statistics against weakened competition that I started to dig through the homerun logs for both Travis Hafner and Andy Marte. Will the signs of hope that we saw out of both players down the stretch translate into further success come April?  Well, I don't know.  But I did decide to see what kind of pitchers these two woebegone sluggers feasted on this season.

Andy Marte hit six homeruns for the Cleveland Indians in 2009:

# Date @Bat   Pitcher Score Inn Out Pit(cnt) RBI Play Description
1 2009-08-25 CLE @ KCR Zack Greinke behind 0-4 t 6 0 2,(1-0)  1 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF)
2 2009-08-27 CLE @ BAL Jim Johnson behind 3-4 t 9 2 6,(3-2)  2 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF); LaPorta Scores
3 2009-08-29 CLE @ BAL Chris Ray behind 1-2 t 6 1 7,(3-2)  3 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF Line); Valbuena Scores; LaPorta Scores
4 2009-09-01 CLE @ DET Zach Miner behind 4-8 t 6 0 9,(3-2)  1 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF Line)
5 2009-09-05 CLE MIN Scott Baker tied 0-0 b 3 0 5,(2-2)  1 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF-CF)
6 2009-09-26 CLE BAL Jason Berken ahead 1-0 b 4 1 1,(0-0)  2 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF); Hafner Scores
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/7/2009.

Looking at Marte's homeruns, the first thing I notice is that there's no argument as to where his power is: it's dead pull to left. More to our point, though, there doesn't look to be much counterfeit about Andy's power in 2009 outside of the obvious small sample caveat. The average AL pitcher in 2009 gave up 1.1 homeruns for every 9 innings pitched. Andy's victims gave up:

Zack Greinke 0.4
Jim Johnson 1.0
Chris Ray 1.1
Zach Miner 1.1
Scott Baker 1.3
Jason Berken 1.4

I don't see a story here. Marte took out a couple of really mediocre guys, a couple of decent relievers, a good pitcher with homerun issues and the best pitcher in the world. Most notable to me is the fact that all season, including in Columbus, Marte exhibited a pretty severe reverse-split, obvious here in the fact that, despite being a RHB, Marte got all six of his homeruns against righthanders.

Here's the same table for Hafner:

# Date @Bat   Pitcher Score Inn Out Pit(cnt) RBI Play Description
1 2009-04-09 CLE @ TEX Eddie Guardado behind 7-12 t 9 0 2,(1-0)  1 Home Run (Line Drive to Deep RF Line)
2 2009-04-10 CLE TOR Scott Richmond ahead 2-0 b 3 2 3,(1-1)  1 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep RF Line)
3 2009-04-12 CLE TOR Brandon League ahead 5-4 b 8 1 5,(2-2)  2 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep CF-RF); Martinez Scores
4 2009-04-18 CLE @ NYY Jose Veras ahead 20-4 t 8 1 6,(3-2)  1 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF Line)
5 2009-06-05 CLE @ CHW John Danks ahead 3-0 t 6 2 1,(0-0)  1 Home Run (Line Drive to Deep RF)
6 2009-06-15 CLE MIL Mark DiFelice ahead 9-7 b 6 1 4,(1-2)  3 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep CF-RF); Martinez Scores; Choo Scores
7 2009-06-16 CLE MIL Carlos Villanueva behind 3-7 b 9 1 3,(1-1)  2 Home Run (Line Drive to Deep RF Line); Choo Scores
8 2009-06-30 CLE CHW Clayton Richard behind 0-4 b 2 2 4,(2-1)  1 Home Run (Line Drive to Deep RF)
9 2009-07-03 CLE OAK Trevor Cahill behind 0-2 b 2 1 3,(1-1)  1 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep CF-RF)
10 2009-07-24 CLE @ SEA Ryan Rowland-Smith ahead 1-0 t 7 0 1,(0-0)  2 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep CF-RF); Peralta Scores
11 2009-07-26 CLE @ SEA Miguel Batista ahead 8-2 t 6 2 3,(2-0)  2 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF); Choo Scores
12 2009-08-22 CLE SEA Doug Fister behind 1-3 b 4 1 3,(1-1)  1 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep CF)
13 2009-08-24 CLE @ KCR Gil Meche tied 0-0 t 4 1 4,(3-0)  3 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep CF); Cabrera Scores; Choo Scores
14 2009-09-02 CLE @ DET Rick Porcello behind 1-4 t 8 0 2,(0-1)  1 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep RF)
15 2009-09-08 (1) CLE TEX Neftali Feliz behind 5-8 b 7 2 2,(0-1)  1 Home Run (Line Drive to Deep CF-RF)
16 2009-09-30 (1) CLE CHW Carlos Torres ahead 4-1 b 6 0 1,(0-0)  1 Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep CF)
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/14/2009.

 

Not a lot going on here either. The pitchers Hafner took out were giving up an average of 1.243 HR/9 and they ranged from the horrendous (Jose Veras, member 2009 Indians bullpen) to the unhittable (Neftali Feliz). It does stand out to me that Hafner still has power to all parts of the park. Hafner's splits are about where we'd expect, with 75% of his HRs (12/16) coming against righties. That's eerily in line with his career splits (123/163 HRs against RHP). 

So, have we learned anything? It's hard to say. I think we can reject the idea that Marte and Hafner piled up homeruns against AAAA pitchers; at the same time, this is such a miniscule sample that we can hardly claim anything definitive in a positive direction. I'm saying Hafner's good for one about every 16 ABs and Marte will take somebody out about every 19 ABs. What do you think? 

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