Nothing in baseball can have a bigger impact on your Fantasy success than the home run. It contributes to every offensive category, with the exception of stolen bases.
In our current “pitcher’s era” the long ball has become an increasingly rare feat. This led us to conclude that “power should be your top priority on draft day”, as we emphasized back in February’s Mining and Pining For the Home Run.
We then boldly projected who could see the biggest increase in home run totals for 2015. So, let’s take an early look at how these predictions are panning out:
1. Giancarlo Stanton - An obvious pick here, but for more reasons than you might imagine. It’s easy to forget he is only 25, which suggests the best is yet to come. In addition, he missed more than half of September after taking a pitch in the face. Stanton’s batting practice alone is worth the price of admission. Projected HRs: 47 (increase of 10)
4 down / 43 to go Stanton’s just warming up.
2. Chris Davis - Okay, so the “drug” for which he was suspended is now accepted by the league, yet he still has one game left on his suspension. So, he will miss opening day. Davis hit the stratosphere with 53 HRs in 2013, and then came back down to earth with 27 HR last year. Keep in mind he did only play 127 games. So let’s split the difference. Projected HRs: 40 (increase of 13)
2 down / 38 to go He’s beginning to make good contact. Davis is such an ox that many of his fly balls will just drop over the fence come summer.
3. Edwin Encarnacion - Our magic number appears yet again: 34 HRs, despite appearing in just 128 games. 46 of those games were as a DH. Now, with Adam Lind gone, it’s a good bet we’ll see more DHing from Encarnacion. Which means he will likely play more games. Which means… Projected HRs: 40 (increase of 6)
4 down / 36 to go Keep on DHing Edwin.
4. Corey Dickerson - One of 2015’s hottest picks. Dickerson’s minor league stats are off the charts good. Although he was relatively unknown before last year, Dickerson is already entering his prime years. He will be 26 in May. The sky’s the limit at Coor’s Field, not to mention the light air. Projected HRs: 33 (increase of 9)
4 down / 29 to go Hopefully his plantar fasciitis doesn’t keep him out of too many games. He’s already one of the best hitters in the game.
5. J.D. Martinez – When Martinez showed signs of his Minor League pedigree with the Astros in 2012 he knew he still had a lot to learn. The belated graduation for the 27 yr. old has come. His OPS is back over .900., and he hit his 23 homers in just 123 games. Projected HRs: 32 (increase of 9)
5 down / 27 to go With protection from Miggy in front and Cespedes in the 6-spot we may have underestimated J.D.’s prowess.
6. George Springer – One of those special talents that will mythify (c’mon, I’m allowed to invent words. Just pretend you’re Porky the Pig) the Sophomore Jinx. He could have twice as many at bats as he did last year when he hit 20 HRs. You do the math. Oh, and BTW, he turns 26 this year. Like Dickerson, it could be the perfect storm. Projected HRs: 32 (increase of 12)
1 down / 31 to go Much like most of his teammates, he’s sputtering from the poll position. He did the same last year. Maybe Springer is a summer player.
7. Adrian Beltre – One of the few bright spots in an injury-riddled season for the Rangers. Even though he turns 36 in April, Beltre continues to shine with ability and enthusiasm. Imagine the numbers he can put up with a healthy squad surrounding him in the line-up. Projected HRs: 30 (increase of 11)
2 down / 28 to go Beltre just turned 36 this month, but he’s healthy and has averaged 155 games played over the last 3 years. His surrounding lineup appears to be healthy, as well, unlike last year.
8. Jay Bruce – Snakebitten fantasy owners may never take Bruce again after last year, but with on-base machine Joey Votto healthy once again, Bruce will be seeing more plate-crossing fastballs. Projected HRs: 30 (increase of 12)
3 down / 27 to go Looking like a good value pick already with our top comeback player, Votto, back in the lineup with him.
9. Oswaldo Arcia – Lost in the hype surrounding Kennys Vargas’ incredible debut, Arcia quietly hit 13 of his 20 HRs in August and September. In a minor league comparison, Arcia’s numbers suggest he’s the Twin to target come draft day. His 20 HRs came in just 103 GP. Projected HRs: 28 (increase of 8)
1 down / 27 to go The Venezuelan is off to a slow start, but he did the same thing last year. Don’t give up on him.
10. Jedd Gyorko – The Sophomore Slump and Plantar Fasciitis are done. With the Padre’s vastly improved lineup, his healthy feet should be crossing the plate as often as they did during his rookie year when he had 23 HR in 125 GP. Projected HRs: 25 (increase of 15)
0 down / 25 to go Its early, but he’s looking like our one dud pick. Solarte has outperformed Gyorko and is stealing a lot of at bats from the 3rd year player.
10. Kole Calhoun – Not really a pure lead-off type speedster, and will eventually be slotted somewhere else in the line-up. However, he does hit in front of Trout, which means he gets to see plenty of good pitches. Calhoun’s a good bet for part two of his breakout. Projected HRs: 25 (increase of 8)
3 down / just 22 to go Great compact swing that packs a lot of punch. He could even hit 30 at this rate.
As you can see (below) a lot of elite names are already taking over the leader board for taters. All is right in the world. First Basemen and Outfielders are dominating the long ball just as we anticipated.
Yet there’s also a few early surprises that have been contributing to the HR column. While you shouldn’t get your hopes too high for Luis Valbuena and Zach Cozart, I definitely do recommend a couple of adds, or, at the very least, “watch list” candidates.
These players include our projected A.L. Rookie of the Year, Stephen Souza (who is most likely unavailable in your league), Devon Travis, Stephen Vogt and the latest Cuban to take the baseball world by storm, Alex Guerrero.
Guerrero only has Juan Uribe, Justin Turner, and most importantly, Don “Maddeningly” standing in his way. Mattingly can be fairly stubborn and sentimental with his older players. It would be unfair at this point to compare him to Dusty Baker, but let’s see how this situation develops. Hopefully it won’t become a “From Dust to Don” rerun. Look for Guerrero in our Waiver Wire Welcomes -Week 4 post tomorrow.
Here’s a look at the home run leaders.
|Nelson Cruz||10||22||Defying Safeco|
|Hanley Ramirez||10||22||Good until hurt|
|Alex Gonzalez||8||19||Sizzling hot|
|Mark Teixeira||8||18||Is it Veteran's Month?|
|Joey Votto||7||17||Caveball Comeback|
|Todd Frazier||7||16||Shhh, critics.|
|Giancarlo Stanton||6||21||6 down / 41 to go*|
|Justin Upton||6||14||Defying Petco|
|Starling Marte||6||17||First syllable says it all|
|J.D. Martinez||6||15||6 down / 26 to go*|
|Devon Travis||6||19||Biggest surprise here|
|Miguel Cabrera||5||17||395 down / 5 to go|
|Chris Davis||5||16||5 down / 35 to go*|
|Mike Trout||5||14||Mr. Ambassador|
|Paul Goldschimdt||5||20||Most complete 1B|
|Adam Jones||5||19||Vlad's Reincarnation?|
|Corey Dickerson||5||13||5 down, 28 to go*|
|Josh Donaldson||5||16||Big bat/big lineup|
|Luis Valbuena||5||9||Should drop off|
|Jose Bautista||5||13||Just getting started|
|Bryce Harper||5||15||Good start|
|Alex Rodriguez||5||13||Who'd a thunk?|
|Jay Bruce||5||13||5 down / 25 to go*|
|Chris Young||5||11||Less than 12 AB/HR|
|Alex Guerrero||5||13||5 HR in 26 AB|