This week, those who need home runs made their voices loud and clear in the category vote, which you can find each week on my twitter (@colbyrconway) so make sure you cast your vote next week!

Here are some guys that could be available in your league to help add some juice to your lineup!

Without further ado….

Home Runs

Dominic Smith , NYM – With the news of Yoenis Céspedes opting out and the Mets in need of some pop in its lineup, Dominic Smith appears to be the obvious choice. He’s not off to the hottest start, but he hit 36 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A, good for a home run every 35.75 at-bats. For comparison’s sake, that equates to 2019 Joey Votto and Josh Reddick . Still, even with a bit of a slow start to the season, his batted ball metrics are relatively positive and his 92.3mph exit velocity on fly balls and line drive with a 22.9 degree launch angle put him right between Anthony Rendon and Nolan Arenado . He has a lofty barrel rate thus far, and while he has just one home run, he continues to smash lefties and so long as he figures out righties (small sample size), the Mets should have no reason to take him out of the lineup. Smith should also be able take advantage of the fact that he gets to beat up on the Marlins pitching staff or play in Camden yards in 12 of his next 25 contests.

Jean Segura , PHI – Purely speculating here, but you must take risks this year. “Risk it for the biscuit” has never ever been this true! Segura is making hard contact with a vastly improved launch angle, but few barrels are eating into that potential home run production. Most of his batted ball metrics are on the positive side, compared to years past, and most importantly, his current slugging percentage of .182 is vastly different than his .398xSLG.

Take this into consideration: There are 10 players that have the same or higher launch angle, average exit velocity, average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives and percentage of balls hit at 95mph or higher than Segura (per Baseball Savant). Now, while Segura is the only one of those players without a barreled-up ball, there’s a lot of home runs/extra base hits from those guys! Here are those players: Teoscar Hernández , David Bote , Joey Gallo , Matt Chapman , Matt Olson , Nick Castellanos , Matt Adams , Tyler O’Neill, and Alex Dickerson .

Lastly, over the last seven days, per Fangraphs, only six players have a higher hard-hit rate than Segura and only Freddie Freeman has a higher hard contact rate with zero home runs in that span.

Matt Kemp , COL – Yes, a Colorado Rockie makes the list. No surprise. Kemp has shown some pop throughout his career, and he is far from a slam dunk. Here in 2020, his launch angle is up, as is his barrel rate, but his exit velocity is way down. However, the only silver lining there is that weak contact on ground balls is driving that down, and his average exit velocity of 90mph on fly balls and line drives is more than good enough to get it done in Colorado. The two graphs below will tell you what you need to know with Kemp, and why he may only stick on your team for the next week or two.

In short, we have a hole in his bat that is enlarging with an xSLG rank that is steadily decreasing, sans a few jumps here and there.

Fortunately, a launching pad of a home park can diminish some of the negative outputs of above graphs, and he has a very favorable schedule coming forward. After this four-game set with the Mariners, Kemp gets back-to-back home series with Arizona and Texas, then gets a weakened Houston staff. After that, it is less than favorable, but very encouraging for the next week and a half after that for some power numbers.

Ian Happ , CHC – Do you know what Christian Yelich , Ronald Acuna, Tommy Pham and Mike Trout all have in common? They all have a lower exit velocity on fly balls and line drives than Happ, per Baseball Savant. Happ’s 99.2mph exit velocity on fly balls and line drives is 16th-best in all of baseball and 58.3 percent of balls that he’s hit have been 95mph or higher, which rivals Giancarlo Stanton (59.1) and Mike Trout (58.3). Now, his 11.4 degree launch angle leaves room to be desired, as it is below his career average (13.9), but his barrel rate has remained steady and his exit velocity overall is up! Albeit a small sample size, after a down 2019, he is back to hitting the fastball for a good average, and all of his hits on breaking stuff have gone for extra bases. Playing time could be a bit of a factor, but if he keeps hitting Chicago should leave him in the lineup. As we know with Happ, there is some swing and miss in his game, so here’s to hoping he keeps making hard contact and that strikeout rate remains closer to 25 percent than 30 percent.

Donovan Solano , SFG – Despite not hitting any home runs in the past seven days, he is tied for the second-highest batting average in the league, so ride the hot hand here. He does have three doubles in that span, and with a 13.6 degree launch angle on the year, a few of these should leave the park with some better luck. His home park is far from ideal, but sometimes when looking for power, you need to find guys that are hitting for a high average and seeing it well. For the record, he has never been a home run guy in his career, so we are purely speculating off this hot streak that we will get lucky and have him park one or two before the hot streak dies out. In terms of power appeal, he is my least favorite on the least, but he is the hottest hitter amongst these guys, so that plays. Let’s hope for some luck here!


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