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Homer Report

Gleyber Clobbers

by Brad Johnson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

For the last month, I’ve been playing a silly little game by counting the number of players who reach 10 home runs. First there were nine, then 19, then 29. Huzzah for linear growth! I predicted another spike, but reality squashed my hopes for power. Only two new players joined the double-digit homer club. However, 14 hitters are sitting on nine home runs. A full 19 more have eight big flies. Homer totals will continue marching upwards.

 

We’re roughly one-third of the way through the season. The leaderboard is topped by Mookie Betts with 17 home runs. If he can maintain this pace – an “if” I’d happily bet against – Betts would exceed 50 home runs. Mike Trout and J.D. Martinez are tied second with 16 homers. Martinez has really surged up the rankings, bashing 11 home runs this month. I expect to see a similar barrage from Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge at some point this season.

 

Editor's Note: Fantasy Baseball season is here! Compete in a live fantasy baseball snake draft right now! Drafts take as little as 2 minutes to complete and last just one night. For a limited time, DRAFT is giving Rotoworld readers a FREE entry into a real money draft and a Money-Back Guarantee up to $100! Here's the link

 

Week Eight Leaders

 

Gleyber Torres: 6 HR

Ronald Guzman: 4 HR

8 others: 3 HR

 

I think Torres may be tired of batting ninth for the Yankees. He went absolutely nuts this week, blasting six home runs as part of a .348/.400/1.130 performance. Obviously, this doesn’t really accurately reflect who Torres is as a player. He’s a line drive hitter who should manage a relatively high batting average. One-third of his fly balls have left the yard, but we should expect closer to a 13 percent HR/FB rate going forward. If he spends the rest of the season in the starting lineup, I project around 17 more home runs (26 total). That ignores the risk of major league pitchers finding an exploitable flaw in his approach. Torres is still available in 25 percent of leagues.

 

Speaking of available, Guzman is only three percent owned. He struggled mightily prior to this week. Even with the hot streak bolstering his numbers, he’s only hitting .226/.293/.472 in 116 plate appearances. The Rangers have given him an opportunity to regularly play at first base while Adrian Beltre is out. Their Hall of Fame third baseman should be back in action within a few weeks. Guzman will need to continue this torrid pace to ensure continued playing time. Scouting reports praise his ability to avoid strikeouts. That hasn’t transferred to the majors where he has a 31.9 percent strikeout rate. It’s an area to watch for improvement. He struck out in only two of 21 plate appearances during his torrid week.

 

Some of the players who popped three home runs include rookies Austin Meadows, Tyler O’Neill, and Amed Rosario. Betts, Trout, and Martinez also made an appearance in the three homer club.

 

My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders

 

Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers: 14 HR, 45 HR projected

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: 16 HR, 44 HR projected

Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles: 15 HR, 43 HR projected

J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox: 16 HR, 42 HR projected

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees: 13 HR, 41 HR projected

Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox: 17 HR, 41 HR projected

Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees: 11 HR, 40 HR projected

Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals: 15 HR, 40 HR projected

Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics: 13 HR, 39 HR projected

Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians: 14 HR, 38 HR projected

 

As a reminder, the arrows now represent changes to the projected end-of-season home run total. The process I use is intentionally simplistic. I estimate remaining balls in play, multiply by projected fly ball rate. Multiply again by HR/FB ratio. And viola – rest of season home run projections.

 

The biggest change is a revision to Charlie Blackmon’s projection. I now expect 36 home runs from him. Ramirez edges him out for the 10th spot on the list. Quite a few others are on the bubble – too many to list. Davis is currently on the disabled list with a strained groin. He’ll likely lose 40 to 80 plate appearances. I’ll split the difference. That shaves about four home runs from his projection. A few others moved up or down by a home run. They’re not really worth spending much time discussing. We’re just looking at small changes to projected plate appearances, fly ball rate, or home run to fly ball ratio (HR/FB).

 

Disabled

 

***Khris Davis, Oakland Athletic (mild groin strain)

***Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles (knee soreness)

A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks (thumb fracture)

Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals (fractured finger)

Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets (mild hip flexor strain)

Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (back soreness)

Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (strained hamstring)

Lucas Duda, Kansas City Royals (plantar fasciitis)

Nick Delmonico, Chicago White Sox (fractured metacarpal)

Todd Frazier, New York Mets (hamstring strain)

Randal Grichuk, Toronto Blue Jays (knee sprain)

Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (TJS – out for season)

Wil Myers, San Diego Padres (oblique strain)

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (hamstring strain)

Eric Thames, Milwaukee Brewers (thumb injury)

Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres (elbow inflammation)

Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals (recovering from knee surgery)

***denotes new injury

 

Well, the good news is only two sluggers were injured in the last week. Davis says he’ll be out the minimum 10 days for a strained groin. It’s a notoriously difficult injury – even the lightest variety. I’ll guess he takes 15 days. Trumbo could be out longer with a knee injury.

 

Three big names have returned from injury. Technically, Greg Bird hasn’t been reinstated by the Yankees yet. Reports say it’ll happen in time for today’s game. His rehab stint included mixed results. I worry he may struggle while he shakes off the rust. Miguel Sano is back in Minnesota – a huge addition for a listless Twins roster. The first place Brewers welcomed back Ryan Braun. If they insist on using him at first base, he’ll find his way back to the disabled list.

 

Teams Visiting Launching Pads

 

For Opening Week, I provided a detailed report on home run park factors (skip to the part titled “Park Factors” on page two). This section will be used to highlight which teams are visiting the most homer happy venues – namely Citizen’s Bank Park, Coors Field, Yankee Stadium, and Great American Ballpark.

 

The Reds spend the entire next week on the road. The Phillies are finishing a series at home against the Blue Jays. They’ll hop on a plane Sunday night.

 

To make up for those missing venues, the Rockies have an extended home stand. They’ll complete a weekend series against the Reds followed by three games versus the Giants and three opposite the Dodgers. The Reds lineup offers little of value besides leadoff hitter Jesse Winker and no-power speedster Jose Peraza. The Giants have been using Gorkys Hernandez as their leadoff man. Brandon Crawford is on a hot streak and available in shallow formats. Mac Williamson and Kelby Tomlinson are on most fantasy waiver wires. The Dodgers are also using quite a few widely available players including Matt Kemp, Enrique Hernandez, and Max Muncy.

 

The Yankees are currently hosting the Angels. Houston will visit for a three game set starting on Monday. The one Angel on waivers is Kole Calhoun. He’s icy cold, but it doesn’t take much for a left-handed hitter to play hero at Yankee Stadium. As for Astros, Brian McCann, Max Stassi, Yuli Gurriel, Marwin Gonzalez, Jake Marisnick, and Tony Kemp are your best chances to find surprise production. Kemp is the kind of hitter who needs help from the short left field porch. He’s a better target for steals.

 

Power Spotlight

 

Is Yasiel Puig heating up? Since returning from the disabled list, he’s batting .275/.370/.675 with five home runs in 46 plate appearances. The streak includes an unusually high volume of fly balls (55 percent). He typically hits frustratingly few air balls (career 35 percent) for a batter with his pop. His season batting line is a still-ugly .219/.289/.383. He might be a buy low opportunity if his owner hasn’t noticed the recent production.

 

Puig has always been a difficult player to evaluate. The physical talent is loud – it’s impossible to watch him play and not come away impressed. Statistically, there’s less to like. A history of high ground ball rates – especially softly pulled ground balls – eat into his power and batting average. He has a reputation for making hard contact. In a sense it’s true. When he squares up the ball, he hits it as hard as anybody in the league. His actual rate of making hard contact is relatively unimpressive – just 33 percent. The stud power hitters all manage over a 40 percent hard contact rate and/or hit a lot more fly balls.

 

Every year, fantasy owners hope this is the year Puig puts it all together. He has the raw power of a 35 homer threat, enough speed to steal 15 bases, and the ingredients for a .285 batting average. To get there, he probably needs to make some subtle adjustments to his swing. On the one hand, he’s been in the majors for parts of six seasons. Nothing has changed about him in that time. A close perusal of his peripherals suggests the 2018 version is the same as the 2015, 2016, and 2017 versions of Puig. On the other hand, this is the era of the breakout. With all the data available to players and coaches, it takes only one small insight to unlock brilliance.

 

In case it’s not clear, I’m not predicting a breakout for Puig. I’m also not saying it’s impossible. It’s worth monitoring his current hot streak to see if the elevated fly ball rate sticks. That would substantially increase his home run projection. For now, I’m expecting just 15 to 20 more over the rest of the season. That’s a healthy total but hardly league winning. My interest in him stems from the opportunity to buy low on his current season line.

For the last month, I’ve been playing a silly little game by counting the number of players who reach 10 home runs. First there were nine, then 19, then 29. Huzzah for linear growth! I predicted another spike, but reality squashed my hopes for power. Only two new players joined the double-digit homer club. However, 14 hitters are sitting on nine home runs. A full 19 more have eight big flies. Homer totals will continue marching upwards.

 

We’re roughly one-third of the way through the season. The leaderboard is topped by Mookie Betts with 17 home runs. If he can maintain this pace – an “if” I’d happily bet against – Betts would exceed 50 home runs. Mike Trout and J.D. Martinez are tied second with 16 homers. Martinez has really surged up the rankings, bashing 11 home runs this month. I expect to see a similar barrage from Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge at some point this season.

 

Editor’s Note: Compete in a live snake draft right now! Drafts take as little as 2 minutes to complete and last just one night. For a limited time, DRAFT is giving Rotoworld readers a FREE entry into a real money draft and a Money-Back Guarantee up to $100! Here's the link.

 

Week Four Leaders

 

Gleyber Torres: 6 HR

Ronald Guzman: 4 HR

8 others: 3 HR

 

I think Torres may be tired of batting ninth for the Yankees. He went absolutely nuts this week, blasting six home runs as part of a .348/.400/1.130 performance. Obviously, this doesn’t really accurately reflect who Torres is as a player. He’s a line drive hitter who should manage a relatively high batting average. One-third of his fly balls have left the yard, but we should expect closer to a 13 percent HR/FB rate going forward. If he spends the rest of the season in the starting lineup, I project around 17 more home runs (26 total). That ignores the risk of major league pitchers finding an exploitable flaw in his approach. Torres is still available in 25 percent of leagues.

 

Speaking of available, Guzman is only three percent owned. He struggled mightily prior to this week. Even with the hot streak bolstering his numbers, he’s only hitting .226/.293/.472 in 116 plate appearances. The Rangers have given him an opportunity to regularly play at first base while Adrian Beltre is out. Their Hall of Fame third baseman should be back in action within a few weeks. Guzman will need to continue this torrid pace to ensure continued playing time. Scouting reports praise his ability to avoid strikeouts. That hasn’t transferred to the majors where he has a 31.9 percent strikeout rate. It’s an area to watch for improvement. He struck out in only two of 21 plate appearances during his torrid week.

 

Some of the players who popped three home runs include rookies Austin Meadows, Tyler O’Neill, and Amed Rosario. Betts, Trout, and Martinez also made an appearance in the three homer club.

 

My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders

 

DOWN Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers: 14 HR, 45 HR projected

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: 16 HR, 44 HR projected

Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles: 15 HR, 43 HR projected

UP J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox: 16 HR, 42 HR projected

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees: 13 HR, 41 HR projected

UP Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox: 17 HR, 41 HR projected

DOWN Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees: 11 HR, 40 HR projected

Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals: 15 HR, 40 HR projected

DOWN Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics: 13 HR, 39 HR projected

UP Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians: 14 HR, 38 HR projected

 

As a reminder, the arrows now represent changes to the projected end-of-season home run total. The process I use is intentionally simplistic. I estimate remaining balls in play, multiply by projected fly ball rate. Multiply again by HR/FB ratio. And viola – rest of season home run projections.

 

The biggest change is a revision to Charlie Blackmon’s projection. I now expect 36 home runs from him. Ramirez edges him out for the 10th spot on the list. Quite a few others are on the bubble – too many to list. Davis is currently on the disabled list with a strained groin. He’ll likely lose 40 to 80 plate appearances. I’ll split the difference. That shaves about four home runs from his projection. A few others moved up or down by a home run. They’re not really worth spending much time discussing. We’re just looking at small changes to projected plate appearances, fly ball rate, or home run to fly ball ratio (HR/FB).

 

Disabled

 

***Khris Davis, Oakland Athletic (mild groin strain)

***Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles (knee soreness)

A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks (thumb fracture)

Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals (fractured finger)

Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets (mild hip flexor strain)

Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (back soreness)

Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (strained hamstring)

Lucas Duda, Kansas City Royals (plantar faciitis)

Nick Delmonico, Chicago White Sox (fractured metacarpal)

Todd Frazier, New York Mets (hamstring strain)

Randal Grichuk, Toronto Blue Jays (knee sprain)

Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (TJS – out for season)

Wil Myers, San Diego Padres (oblique strain)

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (hamstring strain)

Eric Thames, Milwaukee Brewers (thumb injury)

Hunter Renfroe, San Diego Padres (elbow inflammation)

Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals (recovering from knee surgery)

***denotes new injury

 

Well, the good news is only two sluggers were injured in the last week. Davis says he’ll be out the minimum 10 days for a strained groin. It’s a notoriously difficult injury – even the lightest variety. I’ll guess he takes 15 days. Trumbo could be out longer with a knee injury.

 

Three big names have returned from injury. Technically, Greg Bird hasn’t been reinstated by the Yankees yet. Reports say it’ll happen in time for today’s game. His rehab stint included mixed results. I worry he may struggle while he shakes off the rust. Miguel Sano is back in Minnesota – a huge addition for a listless Twins roster. The first place Brewers welcomed back Ryan Braun. If they insist on using him at first base, he’ll find his way back to the disabled list.

 

Teams Visiting Launching Pads

 

For Opening Week, I provided a detailed report on home run park factors (skip to the part titled “Park Factors” on page two). This section will be used to highlight which teams are visiting the most homer happy venues – namely Citizen’s Bank Park, Coors Field, Yankee Stadium, and Great American Ballpark.

 

The Reds spend the entire next week on the road. The Phillies are finishing a series at home against the Blue Jays. They’ll hop on a plane Sunday night.

 

To make up for those missing venues, the Rockies have an extended home stand. They’ll complete a weekend series against the Reds followed by three games versus the Giants and three opposite the Dodgers. The Reds lineup offers little of value besides leadoff hitter Jesse Winker and no-power speedster Jose Peraza. The Giants have been using Gorkys Hernandez as their leadoff man. Brandon Crawford is on a hot streak and available in shallow formats. Mac Williamson and Kelby Tomlinson are on most fantasy waiver wires. The Dodgers are also using quite a few widely available players including Matt Kemp, Enrique Hernandez, and Max Muncy.

 

The Yankees are currently hosting the Angels. Houston will visit for a three game set starting on Monday. The one Angel on waivers is Kole Calhoun. He’s icy cold, but it doesn’t take much for a left-handed hitter to play hero at Yankee Stadium. As for Astros, Brian McCann, Max Stassi, Yuli Gurriel, Marwin Gonzalez, Jake Marisnick, and Tony Kemp are your best chances to find surprise production. Kemp is the kind of hitter who needs help from the short left field porch. He’s a better target for steals.

 

Power Spotlight

 

Is Yasiel Puig heating up? Since returning from the disabled list, he’s batting .275/.370/.675 with five home runs in 46 plate appearances. The streak includes an unusually high volume of fly balls (55 percent). He typically hits frustratingly few air balls (career 35 percent) for a batter with his pop. His season batting line is a still-ugly .219/.289/.383. He might be a buy low opportunity if his owner hasn’t noticed the recent production.

 

Puig has always been a difficult player to evaluate. The physical talent is loud – it’s impossible to watch him play and not come away impressed. Statistically, there’s less to like. A history of high ground ball rates – especially softly pulled ground balls – eat into his power and batting average. He has a reputation for making hard contact. In a sense it’s true. When he squares up the ball, he hits it as hard as anybody in the league. His actual rate of making hard contact is relatively unimpressive – just 33 percent. The stud power hitters all manage over a 40 percent hard contact rate and/or hit a lot more fly balls.

 

Every year, fantasy owners hope this is the year Puig puts it all together. He has the raw power of a 35 homer threat, enough speed to steal 15 bases, and the ingredients for a .285 batting average. To get there, he probably needs to make some subtle adjustments to his swing. On the one hand, he’s been in the majors for parts of six seasons. Nothing has changed about him in that time. A close perusal of his peripherals suggests the 2018 version is the same as the 2015, 2016, and 2017 versions of Puig. On the other hand, this is the era of the breakout. With all the data available to players and coaches, it takes only one small insight to unlock brilliance.

 

In case it’s not clear, I’m not predicting a breakout for Puig. I’m also not saying it’s impossible. It’s worth monitoring his current hot streak to see if the elevated fly ball rate sticks. That would substantially increase his home run projection. For now, I’m expecting just 15 to 20 more over the rest of the season. That’s a healthy total but hardly league winning. My interest in him stems from the opportunity to buy low on his current season line.

Brad Johnson

You can read more from Brad Johnson on NBC Sports Edge, FanGraphs, and RotoFanatic. Find him on Patreon and Twitter @BaseballATeam.