Arenado Furthers MVP Case

·7 min read



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Home run production wobbled for the second time in three weeks. Sluggers managed just 189 home runs, lowering the season pace by 11 dingers to 5,231 home runs. It's looking more and more like we'll see between 5,200 and 5,300 big flies in 2022. That would rate as a lowest total since 2015 when the air-ball revolution began in earnest – assuming we prorate 2020. It'll also represent the 10th- or 11th-most home runs in a single season (not prorating 2020). By no means is this a sign of a dead ball era.

Weekly Leaders

Nolan Arenado, 4 HR
9 Others, 3 HR

Arenado has been slowly gaining ground on the field. His big week puts him squarely in the mix for a mid-30s home run total. Will it be enough to land on the projected Top 10 list? We'll see in a moment. Arenado's fantastic season is timely. Not only has he proven his Coors Field peak can be replicated at sea level, he has a chance to opt-out of his contract and add a good $20MM-$60MM in guaranteed earnings. He's now in the pole position for the NL MVP with teammate Paul Goldschmidt his main competition.

The triple-dinger crowd was light on the usual suspects. Aaron Judge popped in to wave hello, and Max Muncy is finally showing a pulse. He's hitting .283/.361/.604 since late-July (61 PA). Bo Bichette is a star who's having a bit of an off-year. Ryan McMahon is swinging a hot bat in August - .351/.429/.730 in 42 plate appearances.

The Royals had a couple rookies mash three taters – Vinnie Pasquantino and MJ Melendez. Pasquantino was much-hyped entering the Majors but got off to a slow start. Those with a modicum of patience noted high quality peripherals lurking beneath poor surface stats. Ignoring his first couple weeks in the league, he's batting .276/.336/.448 with five home runs in 128 plate appearances – more or less in line with expectations for a debuting slugger. His output has accelerated since late-July. Melendez has hit well for a longer period and has performed particularly well over the last month. He's mostly playing in the outfield which is a godsend for fantasy managers who can use him as a catcher.

Tommy Pham never really took advantage of tiny Great American Ballpark. He's swinging a hot bat since joining the Red Sox, albeit with a painful 37 percent strikeout rate. He's putting up some truly exceptional exit velocities. Pham's peripherals have always looked more tempting than his actual output. He tends to be very hot and cold. Perhaps he's heating up?

Last up is 30-year-old journeyman Joey Meneses. The departures of Juan Soto and Josh Bell from the Nationals opened the door for unestablished players to, well, establish themselves. Meneses is a plodding, right-handed first baseman. It's a profile scouts tend to grade harshly. Evaluators want to see Pete Alonso-ian power output or other elite skills from right-handed first basemen. Meneses lacks standout traits even though the total package seems like it should play in the Majors. He's neither disciplined nor entirely free-swinging. He manages to make plenty of contact at launch angles associated with elevated BABIPs. Since he's almost painfully slow, those BABIPs won't be too elevated. While he's popped four home runs in only 30 plate appearances, he's more of a 25-30 homer guy per 600 plate appearances. The all-around profile reads an awful lot like C.J. Cron at a less power-friendly ballpark. Meneses, obviously, will need to remain an above average hitter through the remainder of the season in order to convince the Nationals that he's a better play than free agent alternatives. Since he's nearly free and seemingly acceptable for a rebuilding club, he has a decent chance at sticking.

My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders

Aaron Judge, 58 HR
Kyle Schwarber, 45 HR
Pete Alonso, 42 HR
Yordan Alvarez, 41 HR
Byron Buxton, 41 HR
Anthony Rizzo, 40 HR
Austin Riley, 40 HR
Paul Goldschmidt, 38 HR
Nolan Arenado, 37 HR
Christian Walker, 37 HR

The top five saw no ordinal change, although Judge is now approaching a projection for Roger Maris' pre-steroids era record of 62 home runs. He's on pace to exceed Maris, though my home run calculator predicts a slight cooling off from Judge. Schwarber shed three home runs from his projection mostly due to a (hopefully minor) calf injury. He's still listed as day-to-day. Rizzo and Riley flipped places. Goldy gained a homer in his projection. Arenado did indeed crack the Top 10, nudging out Shohei Ohtani who also projects for 37 home runs. He's actually expected to deliver half a homer more than Walker over the remainder of the season (whatever half a home is… it's not a double!), but Walker currently has a one-dinger lead.

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Injured

New

Mike Moustakas, calf, mid-August
Matt Carpenter, broken foot, early-October
George Springer, elbow, mid-August

All things considered; this was a tame week on the injury front. Carpenter suffered a complex break which could cause him to miss the remainder of the season. A perfect recovery would see him back just in time to participate in the postseason. The season ends on October 3. He might get in a couple games. Springer is expected back after a minimum 10-day stay on the injured list. Moose can't buy a break in Cincy. He's struggled when he's healthy, and he's always nursing some kind of lower-body ailment. Since hitting 35 home runs as a Brewer in 2019, he's managed just 20 home runs in 632 plate appearances as a Red – spread across three campaigns.

Existing

Kole Calhoun, heel, late-August
Miguel Sano, knee, late-September
Alex Kirilloff, wrist, out for season
Kris Bryant, foot, late-August
Giancarlo Stanton, Achilles, mid-August
Adam Duvall, wrist, out for season
Trevor Story, hand, late-August
Juan Yepez, forearm, mid-August
Ryan Jeffers, thumb, early-September
Mike Trout, ribs, late-August
Wander Franco, hamate, late-August
Mitch Garver, TJS, out for season
Jorge Soler, back, mid-August
Trevor Larnach, abdominal strain, early-September
Bryce Harper, thumb, early-September
Jazz Chisholm, back, early-September
Austin Meadows, both Achilles, late-August
Ozzie Albies, foot, mid-August
Enrique Hernandez, hip, late-August
Anthony Rendon, wrist, out for season
Mike Zunino, shoulder, out for season
Royce Lewis, torn ACL, out for season
Edwin Rios, hamstring, mid-August

In Boston, Hernandez is finally expected to return this week. Story has resumed swinging. The Red Sox need to catch a heater ASAP, but the season is still salvageable. Trout has resumed baseball activities and could be back within 10 days or so. Rios has been on rehab assignment since July 28 and has performed well. He's cleared all hurdles – the Dodgers are just milking the assignment for roster management reasons. Yepez has completely three games of a rehab assignment. The Cardinals have no urgent need for his services.

Kirilloff had surgery on his nagging wrist to remove scar tissue and clean up the joint. He's out for the season. Franco is nearing approval to take live batting practice. He should be back within two weeks. The risk of reinjury is almost nonexistent, and the Rays aren't getting anything out of Taylor Walls. Even a slightly sore version of Franco is a massive upgrade.

Returned

Joc Pederson, concussion
Evan Longoria, hamstring
Justin Turner, ab strain
Chris Taylor, foot
Mitch Haniger, ankle

The Giants and Dodgers both received a couple veteran reinforcements. Since the Giants are all but drawing dead, they've been giving David Villar starts over the obviously superior Longoria. The former Ray has a moderately pricey club option for 2023. The Giants may be considering declining it.

Haniger returned last Saturday. In 25 plate appearances, he's batting a spicy .455/.520/.636. His flippant domination of opponents helped convince the Seattle brass to demote a scuffling Kyle Lewis.

Suspended

Fernando Tatis Jr., PEDS, out for season

Undoubtedly, you've already heard so I won't spend much time extemporizing about the loss of Fernando Tatis Jr. for the remainder of the 2022 season and the first month of 2023. He was caught using a performance enhancing substance which he has claimed was used to treat a case of ringworm. Tatis had completed four games of a rehab stint.