Buxton Surges Again

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The leaguewide power surge continued in the first full week of June. Sluggers mashed 222 taters. As predicted, the seasonal pace has topped the 5,000-homer plateau. The current pace is 5,041, but the league actually projects for closer to 5,500 home runs.

Weekly Leaders

Byron Buxton, 5 HR
Marcus Semien, 4 HR
Jazz Chisholm, 4 HR
13 Others, 3 HR

Just when it looked like he was starting to slow down, Buxton turned on the jets. He blasted all five of his home runs over the last three games. He also cleared the fence on June 3, making this a six-homers-in-six-games streak.

Semien appeared in Saves and Steals on Wednesday thanks to his baserunning prowess. He also slugged it with aplomb. Several of Semien’s underlying metrics were out of whack during his early-season slump. He’s looking a lot more like his 2021-self lately. Of course, Semien overperformed in the home run department thanks to the several bandbox stadiums the Blue Jays called home last season (especially Dunedin). Even so, we can confidently expect a 25-homer pace over the remainder of the season. He’s well on his way to setting a career-high in steals too.

Chisholm was recently in the news for criticism he received from his teammates. A few (unnamed) Marlins likened him to notorious narcissist Rickey Henderson. Chisholm didn’t seem to mind if his performance is any indication. He himself said he’s out there to have fun, which is a great attitude for getting the most out of one’s self. Currently, Chisholm has a .300 isolated slugging percentage (ISO). Last season, only Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Bryce Harper exceeded a .300 ISO. I expect less extra-base efficiency from Chisholm going forward. However, he does have the eighth-highest barrel rate (16.9% Barrel%) so there’s no reason to fret about a precipitous drop.

The 13 to pop three home runs are mostly expected performers. Kyle Tucker, Bo Bichette, Salvador Perez, Jose Ramirez, Ronald Acuña, Harper, Adolís Garcia, Rhys Hoskins, and Joey Gallo scarcely merit comment. They do this with some regularity. Gallo has to feel good about showing some life. Jake Burger is another guy we’ll see in this section of the column with regularity – once he establishes himself as a starter. Presently, he’s working in the shadow of Yoan Moncada, though he’s made enough of an impression to worm his way into the designated hitter rotation.

I’m known in some circles as a Jake Cronenworth fanboy, so I’ve received a lot of questions about the correct circumstances under which to drop him. After the last week, which also included 17 RBI, I suggest using him in any 10-team mixed or deeper format. He’s still striking out at an elevated rate despite no change to his plate discipline or swinging strike rate. He should regress to around a 15 percent strikeout rate going forward which will serve to help his batting average rebound.

The Reds made an interesting find with Brandon Drury. His 11 home runs in 198 plate appearances are supported by his contact profile, exit velocities, and typical launch angles. Great American Ballpark certainly doesn’t hurt either. If you’re hunting an affordable four-category performer, Drury’s your man.

Last up is rookie outfielder Jake Suwinski. He skipped Triple-A entirely - likely because he was already on the 40-man roster. I’m inclined to believe his early success is mostly due to incomplete scouting reports. Originally acquired in the Adam Frazier trade, Suwinski projects as a bat-first fourth outfielder or designated hitter. His profile walks a knife’s edge – he’ll need to continue to perform in these early opportunities in order to open more doors later in his career.

My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders

Aaron Judge, 46 HR
Byron Buxton, 43 HR
Jose Ramirez, 42 HR
Pete Alonso, 41 HR
Kyle Schwarber, 40 HR
Yordan Alvarez, 40 HR
Mookie Betts, 39 HR
Mike Trout, 39 HR
Bryce Harper, 38 HR
Christian Walker, 38 HR

Much of the list remained relatively static this week. Buxton climbed backed into second place, but Judge just won’t quit. Alonso fell a couple spots due to a minor injury. He’s already back in action. Trout is in a similar bucket, but he hasn’t yet returned. The Angels have avoided sending him to the injured list for his balky groin. Harper is the only new name to appear this week. It’s his first among the Top 10. He took the place of C.J. Cron.

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Injured

New

Mike Moustakas, COVID, soon
Taylor Ward, hamstring, mid-June
Mike Zunino, shoulder, late-June
Wander Franco, quad, mid-June
Mitch Garver, COVID, soon

Assuming Trout avoids the injured list, this was a tame week on the injury front. Moustakas and Garver should return in short order from COVID, though Moustakas hasn’t done much to merit consideration in fantasy leagues. Ward isn’t expected to miss much more time with his hamstring injury. The Angels desperately need Ward and Trout back in the lineup. The Rays will be without Franco and Zunino for a short span. It’s hoped they will be ready to return after a minimum stay.

Existing

Royce Lewis, torn ACL, out for season
Edwin Rios, hamstring, early-July
Tyler Naquin, quad, early-July
Kyle Lewis, concussion, uncertain
Wil Myers, knee, early-July
Seiya Suzuki, finger, early-June
Brandon Belt, knee, mid-June
Kris Bryant, back, late-June
Franmil Reyes, hamstring, mid-June
Tom Murphy, shoulder, mid-June
Brandon Lowe, back, late-June
LaMonte Wade, knee, mid-June
Miguel Sano, knee, early-July
Jonathan India, hamstring, mid-June
Mitch Haniger, ankle, late-July
Eloy Jimenez, hamstring, mid-June
Fernando Tatis Jr., wrist, early-August

Lewis is the first slugger to be diagnosed with a season-ending injury. Like another high profile Twins top prospect (*coughBuxtoncough*), Lewis can’t seem to catch a break in the healthy department. Jimenez had a slight setback in his rehab. He’s described as having “normal leg soreness,” whatever that means. Suzuki might return this evening. Tatis’ timeline keeps shifting backwards.

Returned

Dylan Carlson, hamstring
Anthony Rendon, wrist
Hunter Renfroe, hamstring
Carlos Correa, COVID
Tyler O’Neill, shoulder
Willy Adames, ankle
Austin Meadows, illness
Max Muncy, elbow

This was a big week for returnees. Muncy, Adames, O’Neill, Correa, and Renfroe have already brought the thunder, bashing one or more home runs. Meadows hasn’t homered at all this year. Rendon and Carlson both have just one game back. Rendon was 0-for-4 while Carlson managed to go 1-for-3.