PHOENIX — Madison Bumgarner woke up on Monday leading the Majors in strikeouts, which wasn’t a surprise. He also woke up as the MLB leaders in homers, which … well I guess nothing with Bumgarner can really be that much of a surprise anymore.
The big left-hander simply raised a bar that’s already impossibly high when he hit two deep homers on Sunday afternoon at Chase Field. Before his next start, Saturday at Petco Park, Bumgarner will be passed by quite a few position players on the leaderboard. So let’s take this opportunity to look back once more at what he accomplished Sunday …
- Bumgarner became the first pitcher in MLB history to hit two homers on opening day. It was his first multi-homer game, making him the fourth pitcher since 2006 to pull that off. The list: Dontrelle Willis, Micah Owings and Noah Syndergaard, who might be the closest thing we have to Bumgarner currently. Only three other pitchers have even homered on opening day since 1970: Rick Rhoden, Joe Magrane and Clayton Kershaw, who did it against the Giants in 2013.
- Bumgarner’s first homer tied the franchise pitcher record held by Johnny Antonelli and Hal Schumacher. He passed them in the seventh, when he hit career homer No. 16.
- In case you were wondering, the record for single-season homers by a player who was primarily a pitcher is nine (Wes Ferrell, 1931).
- This was a fun one from the Giants’ PR staff. The other Giants with two homers on opening day: Elliott, Mays, Williams and Barry Bonds. That’s a hell of a list to join if you’re a hitter. Bumgarner did it as a pitcher.
- Via Elias, Bumgarner became the first player to homer in his first two at-bats of the season since Bryce Harper in 2013.
- Also from Elias: Bumgarner has 13 homers in his last 199 at-bats, a rate of one every 15.3 at-bats. Albert Pujols has a career home run rate of one per every 15.5 at-bats.
- From Mark Simon and Sarah Langs of ESPN Stats and Info, Bumgarner’s seven go-ahead homers match former Cardinal Bob Forsch for the most by a pitcher since the DH was implemented.
- Also from ESPN Stats and Info, Bumgarner has 13 career homers on fastballs. On fastballs alone, he would be the active home run leader. Yovani Gallardo is second with 12 homers on all pitches.
- Bumgarner now has multiple homers against Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. According to Sports On Earth, he joins Carlos Gonzalez and Joey Votto as the only big leaguers with multiple homers off those two guys.
- Via Statcast, the only players with multiple homers of 112+ mph since this has been tracked are Bumgarner and Giancarlo Stanton. Yes, we've now referenced Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton when talking about Bumgarner's power.
- Via Daren Willman (@darenw, and a must-follow for baseball fans), only 16 players had multiple 112+ mph home runs all of last season. Bumgarner did that in his first two at-bats of 2017.
- Bumgarner now has the four hardest-hit pitcher homers of the Statcast era. They tracked him yesterday at 112.5 and 112.1 mph
- The Giants did not have a single homer last season that exceeded either of the two blasts. You have to go back to Jarrett Parker’s big day in Oakland in September of 2015 to find a harder-hit Giants homer. Parker’s was 114.3.
- Bumgarner’s two homers yesterday traveled a combined 838 feet.
- Finally, Bumgarner’s day job. As I wrote yesterday, that was the best stuff he’s had on the mound in years. Bumgarner’s fastball averaged 93.3 mph, which is harder than his max velocity in 2016. It wasn’t just the fastball, though. Bumgarner had excellent depth on his breaking pitches and he tossed one curveball at 79.1 mph, 1.2 mph harder than any curve he threw last season.
Bumgarner usually ramps up the velocity as the year goes on, so there might be more to come. When you consider that he’s still just 27 years old, this all makes sense. Bumgarner is in his prime, and after two seasons of tinkering with mechanics, it seems he has found something he likes. Bumgarner often looks back at the stretch run in 2014 when talking about his ideal delivery. On Sunday, he smiled when asked if he’s getting closer to where he wants to be.
“This is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” he said.