Schwarber Sch~wings

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We’re almost at the halfway mark of the season! Power production remained stable between this week and last. Sluggers piled on another 235 home runs, bringing the total up to 2,637 and the pace to 5,678. Reading the tea leaves, I expect the pace to accelerate and eventually settle around 5,850. This would rank third all-time, though it’s nowhere near the 6,776 home runs hit in 2019. Presently, we’re slightly behind pace on the 5,693 home runs blasted during the peak of the Steroids Era in 2000.

Let’s jump straight into the action.

Top Performances of the Week

Kyle Schwarber, 9 HR
Jake Cronenworth, 5 HR
18 Others, 3 HR

When we met last Saturday, a four-homer week helped Schwarber to surge in my home run projection tool. He moved from unranked to 20th with a projection of 35 home runs. Add nine in a week – a span of just 31 plate appearances – and he’s now at 22 dingers on the season and a projection for 42 big flies overall. Schwarber came one shy of the record for most home runs in a week. Frank Howard popped 10 back in 1968. Coincidentally, Howard played for the Washington Senators.

I’m unsure which is more impressive, Schwarber’s near-record or Cronenworth’s five-homer binge. The Padres second baseman is not prototypical power hitter. He doesn’t completely lack for pop as his 110.8-mph max exit velocity and 14-degree average launch angle clearly support. Still, he’s more on par with Chris Taylor than the folks we usually discuss in this column.

An absurd quantity of hitters popped off for a trio of home runs. Most of them are players you’d expect. Fernando Tatis Jr. hit all three of his on Friday. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Shohei Ohtani, Yordan Alvarez, Trevor Story, Francisco Lindor, Nolan Arenado, Adolis Garcia, Gary Sanchez, Bryce Harper, and Rhys Hoskins joined the party too.

The players to show up uninvited included Wilmer Flores, Kolten Wong, Harold Ramirez, and Luis Torrens. Flores and Torrens needed just 14 and 12 plate appearances respectively. Ramirez has some stealthy breakout potential. He’s a ground ball hitter with double-plus exit velocities. If he ever introduces a little lift into his swing, he could turn out like a right-handed Eddie Rosario. Rounding out the list were Ryan Mountcastle (last week’s Power Spotlight), Jonathan Schoop, and Mike Yastrzemski.

My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders

Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres, 25 HR, 48 projected
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels, 24 HR, 48 proj
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays, 25 HR, 45 proj
Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves, 20 HR, 44 proj
Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics, 20 HR, 43 proj
Kyle Schwarber, Washington Nationals, 22 HR, 42 proj
Jared Walsh, Los Angeles Angels, 18 HR, 40 proj
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians, 16 HR, 39 proj
Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins, 16 HR, 39 proj
Adolis Garcia, Texas Rangers, 20 HR, 38 proj

Tatis Jr.’s triple-dinger on Friday night was necessary to retain the home run crown for a second consecutive week. Ohtani and Vladito are in hot pursuit. Guerrero Jr. climbed from fifth to third this week. Acuna backslid largely due to missing a couple games to a lower back strain. Schwarber leapt onto the list for the first time this season, jumping from 20th to sixth in the span of one eventful week. Cruz and Garcia returned after brief absences. Garcia is projected to outperform Aaron Judge and J.D. Martinez by just a fifth of one home run. Jesse Winker dropped from 10th to 17th amid a slight reduction to his expected plate appearances.

Injured Sluggers


Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks, broken wrist, September
Justin Upton, Los Angeles Angels, sore back, early-July
Daniel Vogelbach, Milwaukee Brewers, hamstring, mid-August
Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins, fractured hand, unknown
Mark Canha, Oakland Athletics, hip tendinitis, unknown
Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants, knee inflammation, unknown

Buxton can’t catch a break. After a pitched ball hit his hand last Monday, he suffered a broken metacarpal. The injury-prone center fielder has emerged as one of the preeminent players in the league – when on the field. He returned for just three games, going 4-for-12 with a double and a home run. His latest injury won’t require surgery. The timeline to return is unknown.

Also suffering from injuries with mystery timelines are Canha and Belt. Tendinitis is usually curable, although it remains to be seen if the plan will be to seek a complete cure or simply manage the discomfort until the offseason. Given Belt’s long history with knee issues, my instinct is they’ll go the pain-management route with him once the inflammation is tamed. That could mean more starts for Wilmer Flores and Darin Ruf the rest of the way.

Upton’s injury isn’t thought to be serious. In fact, the original plan didn’t include a stint on the Injured List. Kelly could miss the remainder of the season. Vogelbach had recently heated up at the plate so his loss is a painful one for a thrifty Brewers franchise.


Alex Bregman, Houston Astros, quad, late-July
Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants, shoulder, late-July
Kyle Garlick, Minnesota Twins, hernia, early-July
Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins, groin, early-July
Travis Shaw, Milwaukee Brewers, separated shoulder, August
Franmil Reyes, Cleveland Indians, oblique, late-June
Kyle Lewis, Seattle Mariners, knee, out for season?
Marcell Ozuna, Atlanta Braves, domestic violence, out for season?
Aaron Hicks, New York Yankees, wrist strain, out for season

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels, calf, late-July
Didi Gregorius, Philadelphia Phillies, right elbow impingement, late-June
Mike Moustakas, Cincinnati Reds, heel soreness, mid-July
Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers, broken hand, mid-July
Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds, knee surgery, August
J.D. Davis, New York Mets, hand, early-July
Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets, finger, late-June
Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox, hip, second half
Kole Calhoun, Arizona Diamondbacks, hamstring surgery, late-July
Sam Huff, Texas Rangers, knee surgery, July as DH-only
Ronald Guzman, Texas Rangers, knee surgery, season-ending
Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox, torn pectoral, September

Davis and Nimmo are on pace to return soon. Since he was placed on the 60-day IL, Davis cannot return until at least July 1. Nimmo is expected back any day now after participating in four rehab games since June 20. Seager is participating in full fielding activities. It sounds like a post-All Star Break return is being targeted. Gregorius and Reyes could be activated this weekend.

Moustakas was transferred to the 60-day IL. He can return mid-July at the earliest. This is a shocking development for what was originally believed to be a day-to-day injury.

Returned to Action

Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers, oblique
Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers, hamstring
George Springer, Toronto Blue Jays, quad strain
Michael Conforto, New York Mets, hamstring
Garrett Cooper, Miami Marlins, back
Darin Ruf, San Francisco Giants, hamstring

The Dodgers were only briefly without Muncy and Bellinger. The same can’t be said for the Blue Jays and Springer. He’s participated in only seven games thus far. Conforto offers a boost to the Mets decrepit offense at a time when their pitching staff is crumbling. Their hold on the NL East is precarious and depends greatly on the continued misadventures of their division rivals. Cooper and Ruf are solid depth pieces who have some fantasy relevance as streaming targets for specific high-value matchups.

For more injury updates, check out our MLB Injury Report.

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Power Spotlight

At a time when the Tampa Bay Rays are pulling out all the stops in the AL East, the now-second place Boston Red Sox have taken a passive approach. They’ve been fortunate to almost completely avoid injuries. That hasn’t helped them to dodge a greater issue – a patchwork roster that’s failed to spike any values. The club has desperately clung to the likes of Enrique Hernandez, Danny Santana, Marwin Gonzalez, Bobby Dalbec, Michael Chavis, Christian Arroyo, and Hunter Renfroe. Only Renfroe and Arroyo have on base percentages above .300. Both project for slightly worse than a .300 OBP through the remainder of the season. The others aren’t anywhere close. On a given night, some combination of those seven players starts at second base, first base, center field, and right field. For a would-be contender, it’s an untenable situation. It will sink the club if left unaddressed.

Trailing Wander Franco’s Rays by half a game, it’s time for the Red Sox to call upon Jarren Duran. A swing adjustment unlocked Harper-ian power. He has the potential to fill the fantasy boxscore with home runs, stolen bases, run production, passable contact skills, and average plate discipline. In 165 Triple-A plate appearances, he’s batting .294/.382/.615 with 13 home runs and eight stolen bases.

One reason he remains in the minors is defense. Especially in center field, he rates as fringy for the position. He has all the physical tools needed to succeed up the middle, he just lacks the instincts. Reports suggest he’s improved enough to be comparable to Hernandez.

He also has better leadoff traits than Hernandez, Santana, or Chavis – all of whom have bounced through the first spot in the lineup in recent weeks. Projection systems haven’t caught on to Duran’s newfound power, and yet they still believe he’d perform better than Boston’s current leadoff men.