The Return of Perez

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After the temporary slump we noted last episode, power output returned to an ordinary pace. Sluggers combined for 216 dingers, raising the seasonal pace a tiny amount to 5,242. The stretch run tends to be favorable to home run outcomes as more and more teams accept inevitable defeat and begin protecting their better pitchers.

Weekly Leaders

Salvador Perez, 4 HR
14 Others, 3 HR

Perez's thumb injury is apparently behind him. Since returning on July 29 – about half a month before expected, he's already hit five home runs in 34 plate appearances. Just like 2021. Perez made the mistake of coming back too soon earlier this season so he's not entirely out of the woods yet. Still, if you managed to buy low while he was out, you should get a healthy infusion of home runs down the stretch.

Many of the triple-dinger crowd are the usual suspects. Those include Nolan Arenado, Shohei Ohtani, Pete Alonso, Teoscar Hernández, Francisco Lindor, Jose Abreu, Anthony Rizzo, and Trey Mancini. Hernandez is having an off season by his recent standards - at least in the power department. His 126 wRC+ is better than his career 119 wRC+. Mancini has already made an impression on his new bosses in Houston.

Jurickson Profar and Trent Grisham had big weeks for a Padres club that's suddenly awash in offensive firepower. Profar has hit leadoff for much of the season – ever since Grisham relinquished the role in May. His run atop the lineup is probably nearing an end. His .253/.349/.421 batting line is perfectly acceptable for a leadoff hitter. Once Fernando Tatis Jr. returns, they'll want him, Machado, and their new acquisitions populating the first four spots in the order. Grisham's power surge is reassuring as it includes a marked improvement in his exit velocities. These weren't cheap home runs.

Despite only 17 plate appearances, Yankees catcher Jose Trevino chipped in three taters of his own. The defensive-minded catcher is having a remarkably offensive season, although there are signs that we're just seeing some small benefits from his home venue and the network effects associated with batting in an elite offense. We can use that in fantasy now, just don't go into 2023 overly bullish.

Another catcher, William Contreras, resumed his home run barrage in Atlanta. He was one of the hottest-hitting catchers earlier in the season, but he cooled considerably from late-May through late-July. The power is real. However, with a low launch angle, he's best deployed against fly ball pitchers.

A couple of shortstops – Trea Turner and Amed Rosario – round out the list. Neither are entirely surprising inclusions. After all, Turner tanked 28 last season and Rosario has excellent exit velocities (115.8-mph Max EV) spoiled by a low launch angle and infrequent barreled contact.

My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders

Aaron Judge, 56 HR
Kyle Schwarber, 48 HR
Pete Alonso, 44 HR
Yordan Alvarez, 41 HR
Byron Buxton, 41 HR
Austin Riley, 40 HR
Anthony Rizzo, 39 HR
Christian Walker, 37 HR
Paul Goldschmidt, 37 HR
Shohei Ohtani, 37 HR

Once again, not much has changed on the top 10 projected list. It's been an uninteresting season in terms surprise home run performances. Sure, Judge is giving us a home run chase of sorts. He has a shot to eclipse Roger Maris' pre-steroid era record of 62 home runs. Usually, there's more uncertainty as to who will hold the top spots at the end of the season. Big weeks from the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Mookie Betts, or several others could yet upend the consistency of these rankings. Only Corey Seager fell off the list this week, replaced by Ohtani.

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Injured

New

Kris Bryant, foot, mid-August
Justin Turner, ab strain, mid-August
Alex Kirilloff, wrist, mid-August
Miguel Sano, knee, late-September
Kole Calhoun, heel, mid-August

Bryant has plantar fasciitis. He's not expected to miss much time. He was originally going to play through the discomfort, but the non-competitive Rockies opted to let him recover instead. With Turner and Edwin Rios both sidelined for the Dodgers, the club has activated promising third base prospect Miguel Vargas. Take note. Turner and Rios could be back by mid-month. Kirilloff is again nursing wrist soreness – we knew this would be an ongoing issue requiring occasional maintenance rest. The Twins say Sano might return by the end of the season. Given his performance this year, I can't imagine him being included on the postseason roster. Calhoun has an irritated heel. Little else is known. Presumably, a little rest will help.

Anthony Rizzo is dealing with back soreness. He's day-to-day but has missed time multiple times over the years for similar discomfort.

Existing

Giancarlo Stanton, Achilles, early-August
Adam Duvall, wrist, out for season
Joc Pederson, concussion, early-August
Evan Longoria, hamstring, early-August
Trevor Story, hand, uncertain
Juan Yepez, forearm, early-August
Ryan Jeffers, thumb, early-September
Mike Trout, ribs, mid-August
Wander Franco, hamate, late-August
Mitch Garver, TJS, out for season
Chris Taylor, foot, early-August
Trevor Larnach, abdominal strain, mid-August
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, early-August
Mitch Haniger, ankle, late-July
Fernando Tatis Jr., wrist, mid-August

Trout hopes to return in mid-August. Tatis Jr. has begun a minor league assignment. Judging from the accelerated pace of his past rehab work, he could be back within a week. Hernandez is taking batting practice but remains without a true time table to return. What was thought to be a simple issue has turned into a stubborn ailment. Meadows is also hitting in the cage. We'll see if he takes a rehab assignment in the coming days.

Stanton is expected back in a couple days. Pederson and Haniger will be activated today. Longoria is expected back sometime between Monday and Wednesday. Harper is slightly behind his original aspirational timeline. He hopes to be back in early September.

Returned

Rafael Devers, hamstring, early-August
Luis Robert, head, early-August
Wil Myers, knee, late-July
Aristides Aquino, ankle, late-July
Jake Burger, hand, early-August
Óscar González, abdomen, early-August

Devers only needed a minimum stint on the shelf. He homered in his first game back. Robert needed closer to 20 days. He returned on Thursday. Gonzalez has hit well in his first three games since late-June. Myers will have a reduced role when the Padres are at full strength. Aquino is getting a last chance to make an impact in Cincinnati. He's running a 45 percent strikeout rate on the season. Lastly, Burger was activated and immediately optioned to Triple-A. He has exciting Statcast stats including premium exit velocities, an ideal launch angle, and a 14.9 percent barreled contact rate. He should return to the White Sox roster before long.