Those of you who are missing Brad Johnson will be happy to know that his work will be back in this space next week. I’m happy to hold Brad’s spot for one more edition, as I get another chance to detail the notable trends in long-ball action in recent days.
Power numbers have remained relatively steady in June, with 2.30 homers per game in June in comparison to 2.35 per game in May and 2.18 during March/April. Nelson Cruz has produced the most homers this month (11), while Paul Goldschmidt, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson and Jesus Aguilar have tallied 10 long balls. The five players listed above have also posted the five highest OPS marks of all qualified hitters during June.
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Week 13 Leaders (June 23-28)
Max Muncy: 4 homers
Six others: 3 homers
Muncy arrived on the fantasy scene when he hit .261 with five homers in May, but he has broken through as a game-changing contributor by batting .296 with 10 round-trippers this month. Owners who were the first to pounce on the 27-year-old in their league will be happy to know that his recent success seems mostly sustainable. Overall this season, Muncy has produced elite rates of hard contact (47.1 percent) and fly balls (45.8 percent). His 31.5 percent HR/FB rate will likely regress, but it is unlikely to drop off a cliff. Additionally, the slugger has maintained a level of plate control (0.80 BB:K ratio) that will keep pitchers honest.
My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders
J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox: 25 homers, 49 projected
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: 23 homers, 47 projected
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians: 23 homers, 45 projected
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees: 20 homers, 44 projected
Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees: 19 homers, 43 projected
Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies, 19 homers, 41 projected
Khris Davis, Oakland A’s: 20 homers, 40 projected
Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners: 21 homers, 40 projected
Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox: 20 homers, 38 projected
Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles: 19 homers, 38 projected
My process varies slightly from Brad’s, but I looked at hard-contact rate, fly-ball rate, HR/FB rate, current homer total and homer totals from recent seasons when choosing my top-10.
Trout last went deep on June 12, and his dry spell has pushed him off the pace maintained by Martinez. With his obscene rates of hard contact (50.0 percent), Martinez can overcome his relatively low production of fly balls and still pace the Majors in round-trippers.
Betts has been added to this week’s list, in place of Joey Gallo. Gallo is in another one of his funks (one homer since June 7) while Betts has tacked two more long balls onto his total since June 21.
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (UCL sprain)
Matt Chapman, Oakland A’s (right thumb contusion)
Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (left calf tightness)
Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves (ACL sprain, back contusion)
Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers (left groin strain)
Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals (left hand surgery)
Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (left shoulder inflammation)
Steven Souza Jr., Arizona Diamondbacks (right pectoral soreness)
Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (Tommy John surgery – out for season)
Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants (left hand fracture)
Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets (hip flexor strain, quad tightness)
Jay Bruce, New York Mets (sore right hip)
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (back soreness)
Matt Adams, Washington Nationals (fractured left index finger)
Tim Beckham, Baltimore Orioles (core muscle surgery)
Francisco Cervelli, Pittsburgh Pirates (concussion)
Franchy Cordero, San Diego Padres (right forearm strain)
Ronald Guzman, Texas Rangers (concussion)
Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (left knee inflammation)
David Dahl, Colorado Rockies (right foot fracture)
Jorge Soler, Kansas City Royals (left foot fracture)
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (left biceps surgery – out for season)
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins (fractured left big toe)
Nicky Delmonico, Chicago White Sox (fractured right hand)
Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees (right groin strain)
A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks (fractured thumb)
Lucas Duda (30 homers in 2017), Steve Pearce (four homers across 79 at-bats), Matt Joyce (25 homers in 2017), Tim Beckham (22 homers in 2017), Avisail Garcia (18 homers in 2017) and Ronald Acuna (five homers across 117 at-bats) each returned from the disabled list in recent days. Cain and Souza may be back before the next edition of his column.
Teams Visiting Launching Pads
For Opening Week, Brad provided a detailed report on home run park factors. 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 Phillies will open the week with a three-game home set against the Orioles. Philadelphia could do plenty of damage against Baltimore’s subpar staff, making Carlos Santana a lineup lock in all leagues and Maikel Franco, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro options in deeper formats. Mark Trumbo has been providing power of late, making him the best option among the Orioles who are not already locks to be in all lineups.
The Rockies and Giants will hook up for three games at Coors Field at the outset of the week. Colorado sluggers Ian Desmond and Carlos Gonzalez should get the benefit of the doubt in leagues in which they are borderline options. Additionally, Tom Murphy could make an impact in two-catcher formats. Regarding San Francisco, Gorkys Hernandez has been playing well of late and can be used in 12-team leagues.
Yankee Stadium is in play at the beginning of the week, with Atlanta coming to town for three contests. Both participants in that series have solid full-week schedules, with the Yankees wrapping up the stanza in Toronto and the Braves participating in a four-game series at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Virtually every Yankees regular deserves strong fantasy consideration next week, including Miguel Andujar, Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner. Additionally, those in two-catcher leagues can take a look at Austin Romine. The Braves have just two players (Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies) with double-digit homer totals. However, Nick Markakis, Kurt Suzuki, Johan Camargo and Dansby Swanson could all reach that benchmark prior to the All-Star break.
The White Sox and Reds could provide plenty of fireworks during a three-game series at Great American Ballpark. Unfortunately for those in weekly-transaction leagues, Chicago moves on to face a dominant Astros staff (2.82 ERA) later in the week, while Cincinnati wraps up their week against some talented Cubs hurlers (3.45 ERA). Those in deep-mixed leagues can consider Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler from the Reds and Matt Davidson from the White Sox.
The Blue Jays will enjoy six games at home next week, with one contest against the Tigers, two games against the Mets and three outings vs. the Yankees. Yangervis Solarte, Teoscar Hernandez and Justin Smoak can all be considered in most leagues, while Randal Grichuk and Curtis Granderson warrant attention in 15-team formats.
Overall, Joey Votto continues to do some stellar things this season. His 17.4 percent walk rate ranks among the league leaders, and he is one of a few players to have compiled more free passes than whiffs this season. He has also posted a career-best 40.9 percent hard-contact rate and his customary lofty batting average (.297). But fantasy owners have to be worried about Votto’s power numbers, as he has tallied just eight round-trippers across 350 at-bats.
Fortunately, there are some easy explanations for Votto’s low homer total. First, he has produced an eye-popping 34.1 percent line drive rate. His obscene rate of line drives is nearly four percentage points higher than that any other player and far higher than his marks in any previous season. While line drives are a great thing for batting average, they are not the optimal batted balls for home runs. Votto’s extra liners have come at the expense of fly balls, which he has produced at a rate (29.7 percent) that is nearly 10 percentage points lower than his mark from last season. The second reason for his low homer total is a more conventional one – his HR/FB rate has dipped from 22.0 percent in 2016 and 19.7 percent last season to just 11.6 percent this year. The HR/FB rate is likely to repair itself during the second half, especially when considering the hitter-friendly nature of Cincinnati’s home park. If Votto is comfortable churning out liner after liner, he may fall far short of expectations for 30 home runs.