Judge Eyes Maris

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Sluggers had a tame week, launching just 193 home runs. The timing of the All-Star Break meant that quite a few aces had two-start weeks which could have contributed to the temporary power outage. The seasonal pace dropped a small amount from 5,258 last week to 5,231 now.

Weekly Leaders

Aaron Judge, 5 HR
6 Others, 3 HR

Well, isn't this familiar. For a second straight week, Judge has contributed five home runs to the pile of dingers. He's now easily on pace to set a new career-high. His previous best of 52 home runs was set back in 2017 – his first full season. He's already at 41 and counting with a little over a third of the season remaining. He has an outside shot of besting Roger Maris' home run record. To surpass Barry Bonds, he would need to average four home runs per week. Even the best power hitters only project for a little over two home runs per week.

The three-homer crowd was surprisingly small. Half of those who made it are among the usual suspects – Matt Chapman, Paul Goldschmidt, and Hunter Renfroe. This column has frequently extolled the virtues of Bobby Dalbec – at least as it pertains to power. He was one of the hottest hitters down the stretch last season, and his bat is showing signs of waking up. Since July 8, he's hit five home runs in 58 plate appearances. That's half his season total in around a fifth of his plate appearances. Alas, he also has a 41 percent strikeout rate over the span. Dalbec's excellent second-half in 2021 was fueled by an improvement to his strikeout rate.

The other two with three home runs are more transitory visitors. Stephen Piscotty was a decent slugger from 2016 through 2018. Injuries and all-around decline have kept him from show much of anything over the last four seasons. Since the start of 2019, he's managed just 794 plate appearances with 28 home runs and a .219/.282/.387 batting line. He's streamable against sufficiently poor opposing pitchers.

Last up is Jeimer Candelario. He's better known for the high batting averages he posted in 2020 and 2021. This season though, he's struggled to the tune of a .212/.273/.372 triple-slash. He's hardly the only Tiger to post mysteriously terrible hitting stats. All season, he's shown worsened discipline and quality of contact. Perhaps this latest week is a sign of a rebound.

My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders

Aaron Judge, 55 HR
Kyle Schwarber, 47 HR
Pete Alonso, 43 HR
Yordan Alvarez, 42 HR
Austin Riley, 41 HR
Byron Buxton, 41 HR
Christian Walker, 37 HR
Corey Seager, 37 HR
Paul Goldschmidt, 37 HR
Anthony Rizzo, 37 HR

Prior to the All-Star Break, it looked like Schwarber had a chance to catch Judge. That's no longer the case. The top eight didn't so much as shift their ordering over the last week. Injuries have nudged Mike Trout and Giancarlo Stanton out of the Top 10. We'll discuss those more in a moment. Joining the list are a pair of veteran first basemen – Goldschmidt and Rizzo.

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Injured

New

Giancarlo Stanton, Achilles, early-August
Adam Duvall, wrist, out for season
Rafael Devers, hamstring, early-August
Joc Pederson, concussion, early-August
Evan Longoria, hamstring, early-August

Stanton isn't expected to miss much time with his Achilles tendinitis. It's an injury that usually responds well to treatment. Duvall had season-ending wrist surgery. Devers hopes to return in a few days. Peterson's concussion is believed to be minor, but you never know with head injuries. Longoria is proving fragile this season – a reversion to his early-career “injury prone” status.

Existing

Luis Robert, head, early-August
Trevor Story, hand, uncertain
Juan Yepez, forearm, early-August
Ryan Jeffers, thumb, early-September
Mike Trout, ribs, uncertain
Wander Franco, hamate, late-August
Mitch Garver, TJS, out for season
Chris Taylor, foot, early-August
Óscar González, abdomen, early-August
Jake Burger, hand, early-August
Trevor Larnach, abdominal strain, mid-August
Bryce Harper, thumb, late-August
Jazz Chisholm, back, early-September
Austin Meadows, both Achilles, late-August
Ozzie Albies, foot, mid-August
Enrique Hernandez, hip, early-August
Anthony Rendon, wrist, out for season
Aristides Aquino, ankle, late-July
Mike Zunino, shoulder, out for season
Royce Lewis, torn ACL, out for season
Edwin Rios, hamstring, early-August
Wil Myers, knee, late-July
Mitch Haniger, ankle, late-July
Fernando Tatis Jr., wrist, mid-August

Trout received a new diagnosis this week for a rare back condition. It's an injury to his T5 vertebrae which is located directly between the shoulder blades. Trout has downplayed the severity of the injury, though he's without a timetable to return.

Story's hand has not healed as anticipated so he's going for a second opinion. Anytime you see a second opinion coming into play, there's an indication it's a serious issue. Story's teammate, Hernandez, continues to have his timeline shifted backwards. He was originally expected back shortly after the Break. Albies is out of his walking boot. A mid-August return still feels ambitious. Burger is three days into a rehab assignment. Robert might return on Monday.

Aquino is in the midst of a lengthy rehab stint – mostly for roster management reasons. The Reds will soon have plenty of roster spots. They already opened up one with the Tyler Naquin trade. Myers is getting a similar treatment – he's been on assignment since July 12 and is predictably crushing Triple-A pitching. Haniger could return today or tomorrow.

Gonzalez started his rehab assignment on Tuesday. Meadows has yet to resume running on his pair of mysteriously injured Achilles. Harper had a very slight setback in that the pins in his thumb aren't ready to be removed. Zunino underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He's out for the season.

Returned

Salvador Perez, thumb, late-August
Bryan Reynolds, oblique, late-July
Miguel Sano, knee, late-July

For the second time this season, the Royals activated Perez several weeks before the original assessment. Last time, it led to a re-injury. We'll see how he responds this time. Sano and Reynolds both returned last Monday. Reynolds is now on paternity leave. Sano is 0-for-6 with four strikeouts. Minnesota might not have the patience to wait for his bat to awaken. He hit a robust .333/.422/.795 with five home runs during a 45 plate appearance rehab assignment so they'll surely give him some leeway.