A few weeks ago, one of the big stories in minor league baseball was Dallas McPherson and his phenomenal streak of seven consecutive games with a homerun. The former Angel has continued to tear up AAA pitching ever since, ending play on Thursday with 35 homeruns so far on the season.
Were this Francisco “Don’t Call Me Nelson” Liriano we were talking about, there might be some sort of formal inquiry as to why McPherson is still languishing in Albuquerque, crushing homeruns at a rate of one every 9.37 at-bats. Like Liriano, however, the question is best answered by looking at the major league team: the Marlins infield is one of the most well-versed in baseball’s primary language – Homerun. Mike Jacobs (20), Dan Uggla (24), and Hanley Ramirez (24) all have more than twenty roundtrippers on the season, with the resurgent Jorge Cantu (18 ) trailing just behind the pack. If this were the American League and McPherson could DH, things would be different. As it is, he’s blocked by Cantu and Jacobs for the time being. Ah well, there’s always September.
So I’m going to assume that McPherson will be cashing his checks in New Mexico banks for at least a few more weeks, which raises an interesting question: how many players in recent minor league history have gone deep more than forty times in a single season?
As it turns out, not very many. Nine players have hit forty homeruns in a season ten times since 1992, including McPherson, who finished second to Ryan Howard among all minor leaguers in 2004. If he adds five more to his total this season, he will join Phil Hiatt as the only players in the past seventeen years with more than one minor league forty homer season. The list is below.
Brandon Wood (43), 2005
Ryan Howard (46), 2004
Dallas McPherson (40), 2004
Phil Hiatt (44), 2001
Brandon Berger (40), 2001
J.R. Phillips (41), 1999
Chris Hatcher (46), 1998
Phil Hiatt (42), 1996
Russell Branyan (40), 1996
Todd Greene (40), 1995
Look at those names. Not a lot of renowned major league homerun hitters in that group, are there? Howard is one of the premier sluggers in the game today, and Branyan just recently reached 350 combined for his major and minor league careers, but who else? Greene? Hiatt? Hatcher? Light on the name recognition.
You always hope that a player like McPherson, who is performing so well after missing all of last season following back surgery, gets another chance to make a first impression at the major league level. But at the same time, it would be pretty cool to see if he could reach forty again, or, if he gets hot, challenge Howard and Hatcher’s Steroid Era record of 46.