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.
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.
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.