Carlos Pena: What Can We Expect In 2008

Every time Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder are talked about as 1st round picks, I think of another 40+ HR 1B from 2007, Carlos Pena. A look at the stats of all the HR hitters in 2007, with their current ADP, shows Pena to be under-appreciated. After all there were just five 40+ HR hitters in 2007. Even in 2005 and 2006 there were just 9 and 11, respectively.

Player HR SB RBI R AVG ADP
Rodriguez Alex 54 24 157 143 0.312 1
Fielder Prince 50 2 119 109 0.288 12
Dunn Adam 40 9 106 101 0.264 42
Pena Carlos 46 1 121 99 0.282 62
Howard Ryan 47 1 136 94 0.268 11

From this data, one can only conclude that Pena's converts are mostly located in the Tampa Bay front office as evidenced by the three-year/$24.125MM deal he was just gven. FWIW, Pena's salary increases from $6MM in 2008 to $8MM in 2009 and $10.125MM in 2010. Does that signal Rays' management disbelief in Pena's 2007 season?

A look at the 18 players who have homered 40 or more times at least once in the past three seasons doesn't offer a lot of hope that Carlos Pena will be able to repeat his 40+ HR performance. Just six players have accomplished the task in two of the last three seasons, and only Adam Dunn has done it in all three years.

If one only looks at the past two increasingly PED-deterred seasons, only Ryan Howard can be included in Adam Dunn's exclusive club. I have no doubt Howard would have hit 40 in his rookie season if he began the year with the Phillies instead of spending the first half of the year in AAA.

  2005         2006         2007        
Player HR SB RBI R AVG HR SB RBI R AVG HR SB RBI R AVG
Konerko Paul 40 0 100 98 0.283 35 1 113 97 0.313 31 0 90 71 0.259
Ortiz David 47 1 148 119 0.3 54 1 137 115 0.287 35 3 117 116 0.332
Ramirez Manny 45 1 144 112 0.292 35 0 102 79 0.321 20 0 88 84 0.296
Dunn Adam 40 4 101 107 0.247 40 7 92 99 0.234 40 9 106 101 0.264
Teixeira Mark 43 4 144 112 0.301 33 2 110 99 0.282 30 0 105 86 0.306
Jones Andruw 51 5 128 95 0.263 41 4 129 107 0.262 26 5 94 83 0.224
Lee Derrek 46 15 107 120 0.335 8 8 30 30 0.286 22 6 82 91 0.316
Pujols Albert 41 16 117 129 0.33 49 7 137 119 0.331 32 2 104 100 0.327
Rodriguez Alex 48 21 130 124 0.321 35 15 121 113 0.29 54 24 157 143 0.312
Beltran Carlos 16 17 78 83 0.266 41 18 116 127 0.275 33 23 112 93 0.276
Berkman Lance 24 4 82 76 0.293 45 3 136 95 0.315 34 7 102 95 0.278
Dye Jermaine 31 11 86 74 0.274 44 7 120 103 0.315 28 2 78 68 0.254
Hafner Travis 33 0 108 94 0.305 42 0 117 100 0.308 24 1 100 80 0.266
Howard Ryan 22 0 63 52 0.288 58 0 149 104 0.313 47 1 136 94 0.268
Soriano Alfonso 36 30 104 102 0.268 46 41 95 119 0.277 31 19 66 95 0.298
Thome Jim 7 0 30 26 0.207 42 0 109 108 0.288 35 0 96 79 0.275
Fielder Prince 2 0 10 2 0.288 28 7 81 82 0.271 50 2 119 109 0.288
Pena Carlos 18 0 44 37 0.235 1 0 3 3 0.273 46 1 121 99 0.282

The question is what can be expected of Pena in 2008? Certainly, fewer than 40 HRs seems reasonable based on recent past history. The magnitude is more difficult to ascertain. However, to get an idea I calculated the average change from the 40+ HR season to the next one. There were 19 seasons out of a possible 32. (Fielder and Pena do not have a follow-up season to measure their 2007 against, and Derrek Lee's effort to repeat was derailed by an injury.)

The average change was -19.4%. Using that figure means a projection of 37 HRs (46*(1-.194)) would not be unreasonable. The Tampa Bay Rays faith will not be tested if Pena hits 37 HRs next season, would it?

NOTE: FWIW, only two hitters increased their totals following a 40+ HR season. David Ortiz and Albert Pujols increased their 2005 HR totals by 14.9% and 19.5% respectively.

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