Home runs are up! Okay, you’ve noticed that. But here’s a wrinkle: the Rays’ starters have been hit especially hard. Especially in the starting staff. Only the starters for Cincinnati, Kansas City, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh have suffered a greater increase in home runs per nine innings — and those staffs had more turnover. These Rays starters were supposed to be the club’s strength, but the gopher ball has eaten a hole into their value. Why?
“We’ve all noticed. We’re all talking about it,” said Smyly. “Max Scherzer is giving up 22 home runs, and he’s filthy! Our whole staff has given up like 20 a piece. It’s weird.” I agreed.
But even just establishing as fact that the Rays have been harder hit than other teams is tricky. If you look at home runs per fly ball for the starters, for example, the Rays’ starters have improved actually, from 19th in the league to 23rd this year, even as their HR/FB has risen. It hasn’t risen as badly as other teams have seen around the league!
If you look at the starters with the biggest difference between their projected home-run total and actual, though, the Rays zoom to the top. Smyly is fifth, Archer ninth, Moore 17th, and Odorizzi 34th. They were projected to give up some home runs, but then they got it much worse than the projections suggested they would.