23 January 2012

Jesus Montero & Opposite Field Home Runs

The deal is done.

The Mariners finally added a young impact bat in an organization emaciated of power. The price paid is a heavy cost giving up their young, talented pitcher, but I'm not going to rehash analysis you can find all over the blog-o-sphere. If you care to know my take, it's simple, I think the Mariners needed this. There are arms that have potential to replace Pineda, but this organization does not have bats capable of doing what Montero can do. So what exactly can Montero do? Let's dive into it.

Now, Montero is right handed, coming to a park that is notorious for eating right handed power hitters alive. SafeCo averages a park factor in the mid 80's, and because of the weather and the dimensions of left field the park absolutely devours right handed power. We've witnessed it first hand, Adrian Beltre, Jose Lopez, Kenji Johjima etc. These pull-happy sluggers watched balls that they demolished turn into fairly easy warning track outs. Seattle Mariner fans are all too familiar with this and might be a little concerned that their organization just gave up a future ace for a power hitter whose potential might be swallowed up by the cavernous dimensions of SafeCo Field.

If you happen to be an apprehensive fan, put yourself at ease. I can name you one certain slugging second baseman who didn't let SafeCo effect his numbers. Bret Boone made a career out of tucking line drives into the area 51 seats. He proved that if you plan to survive standing to the left of the catcher you better bring opposite field pop. Montero and Boone share a gift.

Below we have Montero's true home run landing locations.

Unfortunately, Minor League Splits has shut down and I could only get data on Montero's limited September call up. The sight is encouraging, and while we are working with a very small sample size, it's not as if Montero doesn't have a minor league track record of opposite field power. So let's add an overlay of SafeCo and see just how well Montero's bat might play in Seattle.

It's hard not to feel encouraged. Montero has a great chance to succeed even as a right handed hitter because of his opposite field power. My only cause for concern is that all three opposite field homers came in Yankee Stadium which has a large jet stream out to right field. Is it that big of a concern? That I honestly don't know, but I'd like to think it's not. The sample is tiny, but very encouraging. Montero has 80 games to play at SafeCo field in 2012, but if his opposite field power plays like it did in his limited 18 game call-up, then it shouldn't matter where he plays, Jesus Montero is going to hit the ball out.


  1. I think Jesus has a great opportunity to become one the best power bats in M's history. There's a long way to go, but I certainly hope we find ourselves comparing Montero and Griffey one day.....and that the stats we are comparing are very close :)

  2. He certainly has the potential to be one of the more prolific bats in Mariner history, and I know that myself and Mariners fans everywhere hope he lives up to his potential.