The Sad, Neglected Fog Horn at AT&T Park

Wednesday night, Kevin Millwood was laboring through shoulder discomfort in a start in Toronto. Still, he’d kept the Blue Jays hitless through three and a third. That’s when he let an 0-and-2 fastball to Edwin Encarnacion catch a little too much of the plate. Encarnacion blasted the pitch way out to left field, and the Jays got on the board. It was the 22nd home home run of Encarnacion’s 2012 season. That ties him for the second-most in baseball. A glimpse at the current leaderboard:

  1. Miguel Cabrera, 24
  2. Edwin Encarnacion, 22
  3. Ryan Braun, 22
  4. Giants, 22

Whoa, wait, hold on a second. What?

Nothing in there is untrue. So far, Miguel Cabrera has slugged 24 home runs in Comerica Park. Edwin Encarnacion has slugged 22 home runs in Rogers Centre, and Ryan Braun has slugged 22 home runs in Miller Park, and the Giants have slugged 22 home runs in AT&T Park. Encarnacion has batted 283 times at home. The Giants have batted 2,615 times at home.

It will come as little surprise, then, that the Giants are bringing up the rear. The Padres are second-to-last in baseball in home home runs, as they probably always are, but they’re still 17 ahead of the Giants, or 77 percent ahead of the Giants. Then there are the Mariners and the Dodgers, each with 44 home home runs. The Yankees have 117. The Yankees hit their 22nd home home run of the season on May 1.

This information isn’t unfamiliar to people who have been watching the Giants all season, but it might be unfamiliar to most of the others. It’s laughable how infrequently the Giants have gone deep in front of their own fans this season, and it’s laughable how little it’s mattered, since the Giants are also 40-31 at home. Make no mistake, this is about the ballpark, and not the Giants; the Giants have hit 43 more home runs on the road, and they’ve allowed 30 more home runs on the road. They’ve also allowed more than twice as many home runs at home than they’ve hit. In San Francisco, the Giants have been out-homered more than two to one, and still they’ve won far more often than they’ve lost.

Various west-coast ballparks have gotten attention for their extreme 2012 run suppression, and A&T is a west-coast ballpark. An average of 6.9 runs have scored per Giants home game. An average of 10.0 runs have scored per Giants road game. But I’m not here to talk about AT&T Park’s run suppression; I’m here to talk about the Giants not going deep.

On May 14, Gregor Blanco launched a home homer to right off Christian Friedrich. On June 12, Madison Bumgarner launched a home homer to left off Bud Norris. In between, there were no home homers, over 16 full games. Blanco’s was also the first home homer since May 1. The Giants went on a little run in the middle of June, hitting six homers in three games, beginning with Bumgarner’s, but all three of those games were against the Astros, so the numbers hardly even count.

Want more, still? On the road, the Giants have posted a below-average 9.7-percent HR/FB. At home, the Giants have posted a terrifying 3.9-percent HR/FB, more than three full percentage points behind the Mariners. Cliff Pennington has a career 4.2-percent HR/FB. At home, the Giants have turned a lower rate of fly balls into home runs than Cliff Pennington.

In AT&T Park this season, the Giants have 22 home runs. The Braves have seven home runs, three apiece for Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. I didn’t know where to tuck in that little fun fact but I knew it needed to be tucked in somewhere. Buster Posey leads all Giants with six home home runs, and then there’s Brandon Belt, with four. Then Pablo Sandoval, who’s tied with Heyward and Freeman.

Curious, I had overlord David Appelman run a query for me. I wanted to know where the Giants’ home home run numbers fit into a historical context, and Appelman was able to go back to 1974. The Giants have hit a home run in 0.84 percent of their home plate appearances. Turns out the 1981 Padres hit nine home home runs all year in a shortened season, coming in at a 0.44-percent clip. Other teams from around that time were worse than the Giants. But the Giants, at present, have the lowest home home-run rate for any team since the start of 1993. The 1992 Royals came in at 0.81 percent. That’s the last time a team has been this low. We find the 2010 Mariners at 1.19 percent. Then the 2011 Giants, at 1.42 percent. Last year, the Giants hit 42 home runs at home. This year it doesn’t look like they’ll even come close.

When I was a kid, I had a soft spot for the Giants, and I attended one game at Candlestick Park. The free giveaway was a J.T. Snow growth-chart poster, featuring a picture of J.T. Snow holding a baby. What I really wanted from my one experience was to hear the stadium fog horn go off after a Giants homer. I’m a sucker for special home-stadium celebrations — the Giants’ fog horn, the Blue Jays’ goal horn, the Mariners’ Funk Blast, any hockey goal horn, the Angels’ fireworks, and so on and so forth. The Giants still have that fog horn, and it hasn’t been getting a whole lot of use. I understand the fog horn sounds after wins, too, and it’s done so about twice as often as it’s sounded for a homer. That’s…I mean, that’s insane.

Clearly, the Giants are able to win without hitting too many dingers. Clearly, we should assume there’s some noise in this data, and clearly, the Giants just aren’t a dinger-hitting team. Whether or not the Giants are going to win the World Series has little to do with the fact that it’s September 13 and they’ve hit 22 home runs at home. But it’s September 13, and the Giants have hit 22 home runs at home.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Kam
Guest
Kam
3 years 10 months ago

This was perfect.

WillieMaysField
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Fans have been clamouring for years to get outfielders to fit the park with speed, defense, and gap power.

WillieMaysField
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

I like the water cannons!!

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
3 years 10 months ago

Hey, the Giants are seven games ahead of the slugging Dodgers, it’s all good.

Rick
Guest
Rick
3 years 10 months ago

How is it that this ballpark was built without any bullpens?

Scott
Guest
Scott
3 years 10 months ago

Do you mean:

How is it that this ballpark was built without bullpens that are out of play?

Pretty sure there are bullpens, and AT&T is not the only park with bullpens that are in play

deadpool
Guest
deadpool
3 years 10 months ago

Wasn’t it that the stadium was built, and then they realized they’d forgotten bullpens and added them?

If that’s true then yes, the park was literly built without bullpens.

Jack
Guest
Jack
3 years 10 months ago

I believe they decided to make the bullpens in the traditional way from the early days of baseball. This is why, for example, the benches at AT&T are longer than other parks benches to accommodate for the bullpen having to sit there.

Rick
Guest
Rick
3 years 10 months ago

@ Jack – ha ha, good one. That sounds like an excuse straight from the Giants brass.

baycommuter
Guest
baycommuter
3 years 10 months ago

The story that appears to make the most sense is that after the plans were made, a climatologist told them to shift the ballpark orientation 15 degrees to avoid the wind, or it would be as bad as Candlestick. They did, but there was no longer room for out-of-play bullpens.

Jack
Guest
Jack
3 years 10 months ago

@Rick Do you have any evidence to support your claim. AT&T is a completely retro designed park (small space, red brick), so it makes sense that the bullpens would be throwbacks. There are other stadiums, like Petco that have similar bullpens. Oh and if they had actually forgotten to design one, then they could do like the Red Sox did and just add one on later.

Dave9000
Guest
Dave9000
3 years 10 months ago

On choosing the direction of the field:
http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=5071

In general, the site that was chosen ballpark had just a barely-big enough footprint to work with. That’s why it’s only 309 feet down the right field line — I remember reading the Giants went to MLB to get permission for that, and that’s why they built the right field wall so high. ( conventional wisdom before the park opened was that there would be plenty of home runs over the wall and into the water. It turned out that the wind really keeps a lot of fly balls to right in the park.)

That’s also why some of the walkways are narrower than would be idea to accomodate 40,000 people, despite it being a new park.

And that’s why you have no bullpens, despite it being a new park

Herbalist
Guest
Herbalist
3 years 10 months ago

please just move the fences in

TerryMc
Guest
TerryMc
3 years 10 months ago

Would you rather see wins or home runs? Often times pitchers park lend a home field advantage especially in recent history. Move the fences in and lose some home field advantage.

philosofool
Guest
philosofool
3 years 10 months ago

I don’t know who you root for, but as a Mariners fan, I completely sympathize with H. There’s something about watching offensive struggles season after season that is just torture, regardless of how the team is affected.

Kris
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

So Ian Kinsler’s ball can go over the fence?

MadMonk
Member
Member
MadMonk
3 years 10 months ago

Kinsler’s wife may not like that.

Bork's Platooney Tunes
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

something I also find interesting, is that the Giants are almost never shut out. Maybe there is some kind of correlation between low power, contact hitters and consistently scoring runs?

GotHeem
Guest
GotHeem
3 years 10 months ago

Low power guys make more contact and get on base more leading to higher probability of runs being scored? Probably just coincidence that the Giants don’t get shut out much and have a lot of contact hitters.

Bhaakon
Guest
Bhaakon
3 years 10 months ago

Walk rates being equal, chaining ground ball and line drives to score runs is less dependent on weather conditions and park factors than converting fly balls in homers.

I’m not really sure if that’s empirically true or not, but it sounds good.

Brian
Guest
Brian
3 years 10 months ago

I remember that growth chart giveaway. I had that thing hanging on the wall until the tacks tore the edges.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
3 years 10 months ago

Part of the drop in HRs is due to more low-HR hitters on the team starting.

Part is the loss of Sandoval’s power, he only has 3 at home this season, partly due to two DL’s, partly due to his inability to hit, let along hit for power, after the second DL. Last season he had 7 (also out for hamate bone break), 9 in 2010, and 13 in 2009.

Last season the Giants had 42 HRs in AT&T. 5 Beltran (gone), 3 Burrell (gone), 7 Sandoval (only 3 now), 4 Schierholtz (0 and gone), 6 Ross (gone), 3 Huff (mentally gone but he had 1), 3 Whiteside (minors).

Melky, Pence, Blanco together only had 5 altogether this season, while Beltran, Burrell, Schierholtz, Ross, Huff had 21 homers, that’s mostly the difference right there (month is not over), much less HR from the corner outfielders.

WildOne
Guest
WildOne
3 years 10 months ago

Seriously homeruns are completely over rated in today’s game.

Bonds – 73 (2001)
Big Mac – 70 (1998), 65 (1999)
Sosa – 66 (1998), 64 (2001), 63 (1999)

The Cubs in 1998 are the only team above to make it to the playoffs and didn’t win a single playoff game. I’d rather win consistently than see a grand homerun in a meaningless game.

Alex
Guest
Alex
3 years 10 months ago

You could also look at Bonds’ OBPs during his crazy run from 01-07 and assume that other in one fluke year, he didn’t really help his team

That’s not a very good way to do it

cya
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cya
3 years 10 months ago

Yea but he also took roids during that period

Ian R.
Guest
Ian R.
3 years 10 months ago

A) I love how you said “in today’s game,” yet the most recent player-seasons cited were from 11 years ago.

B) Take a look at the current leaders in home runs. The Yankees have far and away the most homers, and they’re strong playoff contenders. Every AL team in the top half of the league in home runs is contending for a playoff spot except Toronto, and every contender is in the top half except for Detroit and Tampa Bay.

In the NL, it’s a similar story. The top four HR teams in the league (Milwaukee, Washington, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh) are all legit playoff contenders. It’s true that the Dodgers and Giants are contending despite being at the bottom of the league, but in general teams that hit a lot of home runs are good teams.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
3 years 10 months ago

I’m a sucker for different home field celebrations too, but as a Mariners fan I have to say that I’m embarrassed by our “Funk Blast” celebration. The actual ship they had at the Kingdome that shot the cannons was way better.

philosofool
Guest
philosofool
3 years 10 months ago

I loved that as a child!

Krog
Guest
Krog
3 years 10 months ago

While the rest of the country was experiencing record heatwaves this summer, the west coast is having normal temperatures. I wonder if, instead of suppressing homeruns, the west coast ballparks are playing normally while everyone else is seeing more homeruns than they would with typical weather. Either way, y’all need to move to California. It’s fantastic here.

Word Up
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Word Up
3 years 10 months ago

I don’t know about anywhere else but San Diego’s summer has been a lot warmer than usual.

joser
Guest
joser
3 years 10 months ago

California may have been experiencing normal temperatures; the Seattle area was well below normal in both May and June, which goes some of the way to explaining the 80/44 road/home HR totals for the Mariners (with a lefty-heavy lineup that shouldn’t otherwise be punished excessively by Safeco’s normal effects)

philosofool
Guest
philosofool
3 years 10 months ago

I am so glad to see Jeff Sullivan writing here regularly. I haven’t even read past the first instance of “Giants”, and I’m already just really glad to see this article.

Pig.Pen
Guest
Pig.Pen
3 years 10 months ago

Meanwhile, the Nationals have hit 30 homeruns in September. In case you were wondering that’s 2.5 dingerz per game. To be fair, the Nats did play a 4 game set against the Cubs, but they also visited spacious Citi Field too. The Nationals have hit more homers in 12 games than the Giants have hit 8 fewer homers in 71 games.

fergie348
Guest
fergie348
3 years 10 months ago

Let’s blow the foghorn for triples when Angel Pagan is hitting. Triples are more exciting anyway..

joser
Guest
joser
3 years 10 months ago

Maybe they should switch the foghorn to a “sad trombone” sound instead. It would get more use. (Like every time Melky is mentioned.)

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