Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Power Gone
This just in, power is down...A LOT. Here's a look at home runs from April and May this season and last.
We'll let other speculate on the reasons. Our concern is the impact the best power hitters can still assert on the home run category. With fewer homers hit, the distribution within the category is more tightly bunched. As such, the top sluggers can help gain more points especially if you're at the bottom of a group with several teams just a few homers ahead.
Here's a quick review of the top-20 power hitters with my pre-season projection in parentheses.
Chris Davis (46) - Davis was discussed in this space recently so we won't dwell too much but the bottom line is while last season's 53 would be a tall task to repeat, Davis did smack 33 in 2013 so the power is real. He fans a ton but has shown the ability to hit bombs between whiffs and should begin to do so soon. Mid-twenties the rest of the way is reasonable.
Miguel Cabrera (41) - Lost in how great is Cabrera as an overall hitter is that he's ramped up the pop the past few seasons. popping 44 out of the yard the previous two years. His present ten puts him on pace for 30 but the odds are Miggy picks up the pace, Like Davis, another 20-something is expected.
Mark Trumbo (38) - The change in venue was supposed to do wonders for Trumbo and with seven in his first 87 plate appearances, Trumbo was off to a fast start, His return from the stress fracture in his foot could be in a couple of weeks so let's say best case scenario is half a season resulting in about 20 long balls.
Edwin Encarnacion (35) - Apparently April showers bring May homers for Encarnacion as he smacked 16 of them. And so much for slowing down, he kicked June off with another. Let's not get carried away but if I had to pick one player to hit 30 homers from here on out it would be Encarnacion.
Giancarlo Stanton (34) - Well, maybe if you promise me Stanton will stay healthy I'd add him to the 30-plus list. If you feel this is the season then you can have Stanton and I'll take Encarnacion - deal?
Jose Bautista (34) - Health is also an issue for Bautista as he's only played more than 150 games once, averaging only 105 the past two seasons. If he avoids injury, Bautista will be right there with his teammate EE and Stanton. Of the three, I still want Encarnacion. your mileage may vary.
Evan Longoria (33) - Normally a lefty slayer, Longoria hasn't gone deep facing a southpaw yet this season. Overall, his HR/FB is below league average and his GB% has dropped ten points. This is not a pretty picture. Will he bounce back? Probably, but there's too many red flags to count on Longoria to make an impact.
Prince Fielder (33) - We all know the deal - Prince is out for the season.
Paul Goldschmidt (32) - If the underlying premise is to acquire one of these sluggers then other than Miggy, Goldschmidt will be the least likely to be pried from his current owner. Actually, Goldschmidt may be harder to wrest away as injuries aren't an issue as they are with Cabrera. if you have Goldschindt, another 20 homers are yours.
Adam Jones (32) - Arghh. The underlying skills scream mirage and there's no way Jones should be able to sustain the elevated level of play he enjoyed for so many season. But that's the key - it was for so many seasons that we finally gave in and said Jones had the ability to excel despite being allergic to walks and whiffing too much. When he hit the ball, he inflicted damage. It very well just may be a slow start but Jones has yet to find the power stroke. It'll pick up but he's not the type you want to make up ground in the category as his approach lends itself to being a bust more so than the others discussed.
Jose Abreu (32) - He's back! Not only is Abreu back but he took Clayton Kershaw out of the yard in his return. With no established baseline it's still anyone's guess where he'll settle. It's unlikely but if his owner is looking to cash in and sell high, Abreu is a difference maker.
Adam Dunn (32) - Dunn's already stellar walk rate has been even better this season but from a fantasy sense, that takes away chances for him to hit the ball over the fence. His HR/FB is also down which has resulted in a power outage. When right, he can hit them in bunches but it comes at the cost of a poor average. If you're in the unenviable position of having to punt batting average, then Dunn is your guy to help add power, just don't expect the level of production exhibited in past campaigns.
Jay Bruce (32) - Back in early spring, I wrote a piece for the site saying Trumbo would have a better season than Bruce. I'm bummed they both got hurt so it isn't a truly fair fight but I'm just as confident Trumbo will have a better second half. Everyone assumes Bruce's power will come back because it always does. he's whiffing more than usual which is a bad thing in my book and I don't trust that the power will indeed return, at least not expected levels.
David Ortiz (31) - What you see is what you get. Big Papi will hit about five homers a month. He's not likely to surpass that by a lot but he's also the safest bet not to bust of those once we get past Goldschmidt.
Ryan Braun (31) - Health and not performance is the concern for Braun as his skills look as solid as ever. The chances of avoiding injury is slim. It's more likely he misses a couple more short stretches.
Alfonso Soriano (31) - Soriano quietly averaged 31 homers a season since 2011. He also even more quietly played 151 games the past two seasons. The move to Yankee Stadium doesn't help the right-hander as much as it does a lefty but more than 6 homers to this point of the season was expected, At Soriano's age, it's best to look elsewhere for your power boost.
Pedro Alvarez (31) - Voted most likely to have a Chris-Davis like season, Alvarez is on pace to hit his anticipated 30 or so cannonballs. A breakout doesn't seem likely for El Toro, at least not this year.
Adrian Beltre (31) - Perhaps it's health related, but Beltre's HR/FB is in decline. I'd rather buy low on Beltre than Bruce or Jones but it doesn't come without a decent measure of health and performance risk.
Carlos Gonzalez (30) - I was admittedly optimistic with playing time so CarGo's projected home run total would have been the second best of his career. Thus far, while he's had a couple of minor dings, Gonzalez has been relatively healthy. His skills aren't as strong. He'll always be an injury risk but that could lower the price. It boils down to your level of desperation and risk tolerance.
Carlos Beltran (30) - It was assumed the short right-field porch would benefit Beltran and it may still, but his elbow may also act up again. I'm not counting on much from Beltran and am making contingency plans in the event he indeed can't make it back. I know, he's on rehab and due back Friday. We'll see.
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Affectionately known as Lord Zola, Todd was the 2013 Fantasy Sports Writers Association recipient of the Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year, Web. He's been with Mastersball since its inception in 1997 and presently Todd writes for the ESPN Insider and Baseball HQ. Todd is a frequent guest on SiriusXM and is a regular on HQ Radio. He's a veteran of Tout Wars and LABR as well as a multi-time NFBC champion. Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddZola
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