The Major League record for most consecutive games with a home run in eight. It’s held by three players. You’ve probably heard of at least two of those guys. Dale Long was the first player to do it back in 1956. He’s the guy you are least likely to know of the group. Don Mattingly did it in 1987 with the Yankees. And in 1993 Ken Griffey Jr matched the record with the Mariners. Chicks dig the long ball, as the great Sportscenter commercial says.
Ibandel Isabel was not exactly the most known player in the Reds system when the season began. In fact, he wasn’t even in the Cincinnati organization when the season began. He joined the Reds via trade from the Dodgers when the Reds sent Ariel Hernandez to Los Angeles on April 17th. The scouting report when Isabel arrived into the organization had two big bullet points: Big time power, lots of strikeouts.
The Cincinnati Reds assigned Ibandel Isabel to their affiliate in the Florida State League. That’s the most pitcher friendly league in all of Minor League Baseball. You don’t hit for power in that league. Very rarely do guys go through that league and show real power. The combination of ballpark sizes and weather just keeps the ball from truly flying.
Those facts mean nothing to 22-year-old Ibandel Isabel. He’s running through the league with power numbers like he’s a man among middle-schoolers. Over the first five weeks with the Daytona Tortugas he was showing good power – hitting five doubles and five home runs. His isolated power in that span was .218. That’s very impressive on it’s own. The average isolated power in the Florida State League this season is .119. That means that Isabel was hitting for roughly twice the amount of power than the average player in the league.
On May 26th Ibandel Isabel went 1-2 with a solo home run. At the time, it was just another game. The Tortugas were the rained out for the next six days. They didn’t play again until June 1st. He stepped things up, hitting two home runs on the day. The following day he hit two more home runs. The next day he hit another home run. Feeling bad for opposing pitchers, Isabel didn’t homer on June 4th. Those feelings didn’t last long, though, as he homered in each of the next two games. There was a disturbance in The Matrix on the 7th, though, as he went 0-4 with four strikeouts. Noting the error, the programmers in The Matrix corrected the problem last night. Ibandel Isabel hit two more home runs.
10 games. 10 home runs. In that stretch he has as many multi-home run games, three, as games without a home run. He’s hit .382/.447/1.265 in that span. That’s an OPS of 1.712 in 38 plate appearances. Since joining Daytona, in 35 games he’s now hitting .266/.345/.645 with 14 home runs. The strikeouts are still higher than you want to see, but the power he’s showing is other worldly right now.
To put into perspective just how much power he’s hitting for, if we ONLY counted his last 10 games played, he’d be 3rd in the league in home runs. His 14 currently lead the league by three over two players. They have 60 and 70 MORE plate appearances than he does. His isolated power is .379 on the season. The player in second place, Darick Hall (also one of two players with 11 homers) has an isolated power of .261. That gap of 118 points is the same as the gap between 2nd place in the league and 33rd place. He’s about as hot as it gets right now at the plate. I’m not sure I can recall another stretch like this from a Reds minor leaguer since I started doing this.