Red Sox’ Rick Porcello having home run problems


Small sample sizes abound in the early part of the baseball season. One great or terrible game can swing a player’s results so far in either direction that fans are quick to point out whether a player is due for a breakout season or regression. Now two weeks into the season, we’re beginning to get some of those small sample size concerns for the Red Sox and, right now, we’re going to focus on Rick Porcello.

The difference between Porcello and a number of other players who have bad numbers because of one bad game (Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson) is that his home run troubles have been a trend. Porcello has surrendered at least one home run in every start this season and has now allowed a league-leading 5 home runs in 19.0 innings pitched.

More from Red Sox News

The long ball has never been an issue for Porcello in the past as he sports a career HR/9 of 0.96 and has allowed fewer home runs than the average pitcher in every season since 2011. However, in his three starts this year, his home run rate has skyrocketed to 2.37 per nine. Granted, a good part of that is a ridiculous and unsustainable 25% home run per fly ball rate, but even when one plugs in Porcello’s career rate of 11.6 HR/FB, his home run rate would still be higher than his career norm at 1.10 per nine.

The Red Sox acquired Porcello from Detroit this winter, sending outfielder Yoenis Cespedes the other way. It was fair to expect a bit of a rise in his home run rate as Porcello was moving from the pitcher-friendly Comerica Park to the hitters’ haven that is Fenway Park. Perhaps we’re seeing that regression manifest itself right now, as Porcello has allowed consistent hard contact in the early part of the season.

Before one criticizes the Red Sox, first for acquiring Porcello and then for extending him to a 4 year/$82.5M deal, please consider that three starts is just a blip on the radar in an exceptionally long baseball season. Pitching in the hitter-friendly Fenway Park, Porcello’s home run rate might well rise, but the 2.37 HR/9 that we’re seeing now is unsustainably high.

After yesterday’s start, Porcello vowed to make the necessary adjustments and come back stronger and he should be able to do just that. Porcello is not even in his prime yet at age 26 and should be able to negate these early troubles by really bearing down for the remainder of the season. His home run rate has been concerning so far, but it’s still too early to take anything definite away from it.