MLB teams combined for 4,934 total homers in 2012, their most since 2009 (5,042). Power remains a hard-to-find commodity, and all you need to do is look at the big multiyear contracts signed by Josh Hamilton (43 HR), B.J. Upton (28 HR), and Nick Swisher (24 HR) for evidence. Power is at a premium.
Homers and slugging percentage are just two measures of power though. Isolated power, or ISO, is slugging percentage minus batting average, so it tells us extra bases per at-bat. Hamilton led all qualified hitters with a .292 ISO in 2012 while Edwin Encarnacion and Miguel Cabrera (both .277 ISO) were tied for second. Jamey Carroll and Ben Revere tied for dead last in MLB with a .049 ISO this past season. The MLB average was a .151 ISO in 2012, and here are the nine unsigned free agents who posted a better than league average ISO this summer (min. 200 PA).
- Scott Hairston – .241 ISO
- Adam LaRoche – .238
- Luke Scott & Travis Hafner – both .210
- Kelly Shoppach – .192
- Yuniesky Betancourt – .172
- Brandon Inge – .165
- Miguel Olivo – .159
- Scott Rolen – .153
Hairston and LaRoche are both in line for multiyear contracts this winter while Rolen is still undecided about retirement. Scott and Hafner would provide some left-handed thump to a team unwilling to spend huge dollars on a DH-type, and both Shoppach and Olivo would make sense for clubs seeking a backup catcher who can hit the ball out of the park on occasion. Betancourt and Inge may have to settle for minor league contracts.