It might as well be official – Khris Davis is the home run king. To date, he’s hit a career best 47 home runs. He’s also in pursuit of a useless but fun piece of trivia. Over the last three seasons, Davis posted a .247 batting average. As of this writing, he is once again batting .247. If he finishes the season by going 2-for-8 or similar, he’ll maintain this silly accomplishment.
As we’re down to just two days remaining, this column will mostly focus on what has already happened. We’ll also take a quick peek around the league for last minute waiver wire saviors. Check out the Power Spotlight for those selections.
Let’s get down to business.
David Dahl, 5 HR
Ryan Braun, 5 HR
5 others, 3 HR
I won’t lie; it feels good when my recommendations supply instant gratification. I suggested grabbing Dahl last Saturday for his upcoming series against the Phillies and Nationals at Coors Field. He responded with five home runs, copious run support, and gaudy rates. The only category where he left us hanging was stolen bases – and that’s not why you bought him. Dahl, in between injuries, has proven himself to be a streaky hitter. If you managed to jump on the bandwagon in time, you might as well ride it to the finish. He’s set to face Stephen Strasburg and Erick Fedde.
Father time caught up with Braun over the last two seasons. He’s declined from a carrying force in fantasy leagues to a merely interesting talent. He still posted double digit home run and stolen base totals, but his last week accounted for a full quarter of his power production. Those who drafted him probably gave up back when he slipped into an awkward job share with Jesus Aguilar and Eric Thames. These days, Braun and Aguilar start most games over Thames. The hot streak is just in time for a Milwaukee club with aspirations to win the NL Central.
The five hitters who popped three home runs feature an interesting blend of talent. Christian Yelich has affirmed his status as the NL MVP over the past month. Since the start of a homer binge in mid-August, he is batting .360/.470/.816 with 16 home runs in 164 plate appearances. Luke Voit continues to do his best impression of Matt Olson circa 2017. Voit now has 13 home runs in 144 plate appearances with the Yankees. A.J. Pollock, Rafael Devers, and Marcus Semien round out the list.
Top 10 Home Run Leaders
Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics: 47 HR
J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox: 42 HR
Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers: 40 HR
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: 39 HR
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians: 38 HR
Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners: 37 HR
Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees, 37 HR
Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians: 37 HR
Manny Machado, Los Angeles Dodgers: 37 HR
Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals: 36 HR
Although most of these sluggers will have two more opportunities to change the pecking order, this is basically the final home run leaderboard. For all the noise and fuss about home runs around the league, only three players have climbed atop the 40 home run plateau. Nobody made it to 50 home runs barring a heroic weekend from Davis. Compared to last season, fewer hitters reached the 20 and 30 home run milestones too. Overall, sluggers have hit 5,521 home runs (a pace of 5,590). Last year, they hit 6,105 homers. Congrats to anybody who managed to roster more than one of the above – you’re probably cruising to victory.
***Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (back soreness – out for season)
***Ji-Man Choi, Tampa Bay Rays (concussion – out for season)
***Christin Stewart, Detroit Tigers (abdominal strain)
***Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins (knee discomfort – out for season)
Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants (knee soreness – out for season)
Wilmer Flores, New York Mets (arthritis in both knees – out for season)
Eddie Rosario, Minnesota Twins (right quad strain – out for season)
Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox (infection in right thigh – out for season)
Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh Pirates (left shoulder surgery – out for season)
Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels (knee surgery – out for season)
Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles (right knee inflammation – out for season)
Christian Villanueva, San Diego Padres (fractured right middle finger –out for season)
Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks (frayed rotator cuff – out for season)
Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds (shoulder subluxation – out for season)
Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets (calcified heels – out for season)
Clint Frazier, New York Yankees (post-concussion syndrome)
Zack Cozart, Los Angeles Angels (torn labrum – out for season)
Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland Indians (calf strain – out for season)
Jorge Soler, Kansas City Royals (fractured foot – out for season)
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (ruptured biceps tendon – out for season)
Franchy Cordero, San Diego Padres (forearm strain – out for season)
Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (TJS – out for season)
***denotes new injury
Correa and Story were able to quickly rebound from their injuries. In Correa’s case, he continues to struggle at the plate. The Astros may have to make some tough decisions about starting him in the postseason. Story jumped right back into the fray with a clutch series against the Phillies.
Four new players landed on the shelf in the last week. Stewart, a rookie slugger with the Tigers, hasn’t been ruled out for the weekend. However, I doubt he’ll play in meaningless games. Zimmerman is mostly out for precautionary reasons. He’d likely be playing if the season was on the line. Sano had a lost season. He might be a bargain next spring. After years spent as a journeyman, Choi was making a name for himself in the heart of the Rays lineup. Alas, a concussion has ended his season.
Rather than focusing on one player, let’s spread our attention to freely available sluggers with desirable matchups. For Saturday, I’d focus on a few venues – Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Colorado. The Pirates are visiting Michael Lorenzen and the Reds. Leadoff man Adam Frazier isn’t much of a power hitter, but the tiny stadium could help him to luck into a big fly. Francisco Cervelli is a good choice for those in need of a catcher. Josh Bell, Colin Moran, and Corey Dickerson are options too.
The Astros are visiting the Orioles for a doubleheader. Both Dylan Bundy and Yefry Ramirez are homer prone. Although the best Houston bats are highly owned, options like Josh Reddick, Tony Kemp, and Marwin Gonzalez should all receive at least one start today. Finally, consider using Nationals leadoff man Victor Robles versus Jon Gray. Mark Reynolds is also playing every day in Zimmerman’s absence.
Tomorrow, my eyes are on Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and Colorado. The Braves are visiting Citizen’s Bank Park. They’ll face Ranger Suarez, an exploitable southpaw. Johan Camargo and Tyler Flowers have reputations as lefty mashers. Suarez shows some promise as somebody who induces a copious volume of ground balls. For now, he’s highly exploitable.
The Brewers have yet to name a starter. It’s possible they’ll no longer have a shot at the division title, in which case they’d use a hangover lineup and a spot starter. I suspect I’ll be comfortable trying Niko Goodrum against anybody they call upon. If the Brewers are eliminated from the division race, keep an eye out for a Keon Broxton start versus Spencer Turnbull.
In Cincinnati, you’re targeting the same Pirates bats as today – Frazier, Cervelli, Dickerson, Moran, and Bell. They’ll face Sal Romano. The choices at Coors Field remain the same. Like the Brewers, Colorado is waiting to learn if tomorrow even matters. The Rockies clinch today with a win and a Dodgers loss. Watch out for the scrub crew. Either way, Robles and Reynolds should be solid targets. If you put Dahl in your back pocket, dust him off for Erick Fedde.