Baseball gravity pulls sophomore slugging 1st baseman back to earth

Last year witnessed not one, not two, but three first baseman who broke all sorts of home runs records even though none of them started the season in the major leagues.  The first up was Dodger phenom Cody Bellinger who started his first game on April 25th and proceeded to light up the NL and helped turn around the moribund 2017 Dodgers into a contender for the World Championship with his prodigious home run display in his first fifty games. Next up was Matt Olson whose first game was actually April 223rd but it was only for one game. Olson didn’t come up for good until June 4th.  Matt Olson did not get fifty starts in 2017 so I went with his full-season numbers which included quite a few pinch hits. Rhys Hoskins didn’t get started until Aug 10th and finished the season with exactly fifty starts.  As you can tell from the 2017 table below, these slugging first baseman all averaged a home run in 10 plate appearances or less.

This is what they did last year in their first 50 games:

Name 1st Game Games Started PlateAppearances Home Runs HR/PA
Cody Bellinger 4/28/2017 50 188 19 9.89
Matt Olson 04/23/2017 48 208 24 8.67
Rhys Hoskins 8/10/2017 50 170 18 9.44

This is what they are doing this year so far in 2018. They haven’t quite hit the same threshold of fifty starts in 2018 but it is close enough to take a look, and the look isn’t pretty.

Name PlateAppearances Home Runs HR/PA
Cody Bellinger 172 6 28.67
Matt Olson 147 5 29.40
Rhys Hoskins 127 5 25.40

Does any of this mean anything? No, I just wanted to create a table showing how the big three are all struggling to hit home runs at anything close to the historic pace they were on last year.  Pitchers have found weaknesses, it will be curious to see who makes the first adjustments and if any of the three can get back to being the home run machines they were in 2018.  Bellinger was the only one who played what could be called a full season so pitchers were already making adjustments against him as the season wore on. They had a bigger book on Cody than they did on Olson and Hoskins. Right now the pitchers are all on the same page regarding the big three.


1 Comment

  1. Seems like my man Bellinger is spending more time fighting with his manager than the opposing pitchers?
    Now Bellinger moves to CF?


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