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Insights Weekly: The Season of the Home Run Continues and Escobar Eyes a Rare Feat

By: Andy Cooper

The sluggers keep slugging, the young White Sox show promising signs, Eduardo Escobar is in rare territory for a switch-hitter and one of the Cubs’ trade deadline moves is paying off.

All of this and more were highlighted by STATS Insights and consumed by fans across the country who want more from their favorite sporting events than just the ordinary bare-bones box scores and mundane play-by-play rundowns.

Throughout the summer, Stats Perform has provided some of MLB’s best storylines. STATS Insights is powered by nearly 40 years of historical data and generated through major advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Our dedicated research team uses the industry’s deepest database to enhance the viewing experience by expanding on critical moments with single-game, season and historical context. In this post, we like to build on that and give an even closer look at our most intriguing stats.

In a league obsessed with launch angle, home runs are being hit at an all-time high. And no one is slugging better than Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers, Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Pete Alonso of the New York Mets. Yelich, Bellinger and Trout figure to be the front runners in their respective MVP races and Alonso is likely considered the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year.

Here’s prodigious home run No. 37 for Bellinger off St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha:

In addition, the top four teams in total homers – the Houston Astros, Dodgers, New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins – also have MLB’s best records. Since 2012, the team with the best record at the end of the season has not once placed in the top five of total home runs. The best records this year will almost certainly include one or more of these teams, showing that the dominance of the homer has had a correlation to success in 2019.

Only two of the home run leaders that participated in the other three instances won the MVP in those seasons (the Yankees’ Roger Maris and Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs in 2002) and none of the 12 players listed were rookies at the time.

It has been a rollercoaster of a season for White Sox fans. It started off with a lot of hope, knowing that the team’s young prospects were beginning to show signs of life. The first half of the season returned average results for the Sox, but they struggled coming out of the All-Star break with seven consecutive defeats.

There have been some bright spots for the young club, including a stretch in which the White Sox reached base in 39 straight innings. That hadn’t happened since the early 90s when the Astros were led by future Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. Houston finished that season 81-81, a record that may be out of reach for 52-64 Chicago this season.

Mantle’s 1956 season was one of his best, as he hit .353 with 52 home runs and an OPS of 1.169. He ended up with a career-high 9.6 Wins Above Replacement and earned the first of his three MVP awards.

Mantle’s performance helped the Yankees win 97 games and their 17th World Series title, which they won in seven games over Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

While Diamondbacks may not achieve the same success, Escobar has shattered expectations this year. The infielder has already reached career highs in home runs and RBIs, but likely has little room for error as he chases down the RBI crown. Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves has taken over the lead by one over Escobar with 95, while several other players are also in the mix.

The Cubs stumbled into the trade deadline after dropping six of eight prior to July 31. Looking for a spark, Chicago acquired speedy utilityman Tony Kemp from Houston and outfielder Nicholas Castellanos from the Detroit Tigers.

Castellanos batted .273 with 11 homers and a .790 OPS for the lowly Tigers before the move to Chicago seemed to reenergize him. Castellanos hit .424 with three dingers, six doubles and a 1.336 OPS in his first eight games with the Cubs, who went 6-2 in those contests.

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