Luke and the longball: How many homers can he hit?

Here is a question I've been wondering about for a while: How many homers is Luke Scott capable of hitting if he were to get more at bats?

Scott hit 27 homers this past season, which ranked 14th best in the American League. But he ranked 6th in the AL in at bats per homer.

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Here are the top six in at bats per home run this year in the AL:
10.54 - Jose Bautista, Tor
14.05 - Paul Konerko, CWS
14.42 - Miguel Cabrera, Det
16.19 - Josh Hamilton, Tex & David Ortiz, Bos
16.56 - Luke Scott, Orioles

Scott averaged fewer at bats per each each homer in 2010 then Carlos Pena (17.3), Alex Rodriguez (17.4), Mark Teixeira (18.2), Vladimir Guerrero (20.45) and Robinson Cano (21.6).

Scott, who hit .284-27-72 this season, did that in just 447 at bats. He finished 6th in the AL in slugging and 7th in OPS. Check out those lists to see the company he is keeping there and some of the players he exceeded.

Nick Markakis led the O's with 629 at bats this year or 182 more than Scott. Had Scott gotten 629 at bats, hitting one homer every 16.56 at bats as he did, he would have finished with 38 homers. That would have tied for 3rd in the AL.

But some have said, and I wondered too, about how many tough lefties Scott gets rested against. If he played vs. that group, surely his homer pace would go down, right?

Not necessarily. Scott averaged one homer this year every 17.4 at bats vs. right-handed pitching and he hit seven homers in 100 at bats vs. lefties. That is one every 14.3 at bats.

Yes, that surprised me too. Did you know that Scott homered this year off Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia and Tampa lefty reliever Randy Choate?

Yes, Scott is 32. But he remains under team control and has increased his homer total and lowered that at bat per homer figure each year as an Oriole. He's only played five Major League seasons and could be coming into his most productive power years over the next few seasons.

It may be time for Scott to get those 600 at bats. On a team desperate for power, Scott may at least be a partial answer there for the Orioles.

Scott, at bats per homer with the Orioles:
2008 - 1 every 20.7 at bats.
2009 - 1 every 17.96 at bats.
2010 - 1 every 16.56 at bats.

Do you think the O's should get Scott 600 plus at bats next season and could he hit over 30 homers?

Later today: Scott wonders as well how many homers he could hit with more at bats over a full season. I'll post his quotes on this topic a little later today, so check back.

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