Khris Davis is running away with the home run crown. After a two homer performance on Friday night, he now has a healthy four home run lead over second place J.D. Martinez. Only a heroic week could save Martinez’s pursuit of the Triple Crown (he also needs to overtake teammate Mookie Betts in batting average). Nobody else is within range of first place. Jose Ramirez and Joey Gallo are tied for third with 38 home runs apiece. They along with Mike Trout (37) have a reasonable shot at reaching the 40 homer plateau.
Let’s get down to business.
Daniel Palka, 5 HR
Mike Trout, 4 HR
Yasiel Puig, 4 HR
Nine others, 3 HR
On August 11, I wrote about Palka in the Power Spotlight. At the time, he was only five percent owned. Those who were patient with my advice were finally treated to a banner week. He even chipped in with solid run production and a palatable batting average over the last month. The use case remains unchanged – he’s best targeted against bad right-handed pitchers.
Prior to injury, Trout looked like he had a shot at the home run crown. This despite 40 percent of his plate appearances ending in a walk or strikeout. Even though he missed over 100 plate appearances, he’s one fiery week away from reaching 40 home runs for the second time in his career.
Puig shows as having four home runs over the last week. Expand the lens to include the past eight days, and he has six homers. Five of those came over a span of just two games against the Cardinals. Puig tends to be hopelessly inconsistent, mixing periods of invincibility with deep slumps. Injuries are common for the athletic slugger. The Dodgers should be pleased to see him heating up in time to carry the club to the NL West title.
Of the many hitters to pop three home runs, the most interesting are rookies Lourdes Gurriel and Adalberto Mondesi. Gurriel, 24, clearly has adjustments to make in the majors. In particular, he’s hyper-aggressive to his detriment. He makes enough contact to support a more patient approach, although he’s never shown an aptitude for working the count. Mondesi is hyper-aggressive too, but it better fits his skill set. His swinging strike rate is comparable to Joey Gallo – not ideal for a speedster. Although he’s carrying fantasy owners this season, be wary about his sticker price next spring. The upside is Javier Baez with more speed. The downside is Javier Baez when he isn’t doing anything.
My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders
Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics: 45 HR, 47 HR projected
J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox: 41 HR, 43 HR projected
Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers: 38 HR, 40 HR projected
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians: 38 HR, 39 HR projected
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: 37 HR, 39 HR projected
Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners: 36 HR, 38 HR projected
Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees, 35 HR, 38 HR projected
Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians: 36 HR, 37 HR projected
Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals: 35 HR, 37 HR projected
Manny Machado, Los Angeles Dodgers: 35 HR, 37 HR projected
We’re down to only nine days left in the season. Many of these players will have a rest day or three over this final stretch. Let’s remember, reality isn’t as smooth as projections. While these players are expected to hit between one and three home runs over the remainder of the season, several of them will zero out. Others might go on a last-minute spree. That’s why reality is so much more interesting than a spreadsheet.
***Carlos Correa, Houston Astros (lower back soreness)
***Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies (elbow inflammation)
***Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants (knee soreness)
***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)
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)
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
The Yankees plopped Aaron Judge right back into the heart of the lineup. He’s currently “rehabbing” in the majors while New York prepares for the postseason. He doesn’t appear to be overly rusty, although he’s yet to homer in 18 plate appearances. Kyle Schwarber returns on Friday night after a 10 day absence. Johan Camargo only missed six days with his groin injury. Maikel Franco is back in the lineup today.
Correa is only expected to miss this weekend with lower back soreness. It sounds minor to the casual observer, but Correa lost over a month earlier in the year with the same vague injury. Since returning, he’s performed poorly. I recommend his owners in redraft leagues strongly consider finding a replacement. The same can be done in keeper formats where he’s too expensive to keep. Even if he returns, we can expect the discomfort to linger. In fact, I think we can assume it never completely went away.
Story dodged a more serious UCL injury, but his timetable to return is unknown. I’m a little less eager to jettison him in deep formats. In shallow leagues where a player like Andrelton Simmons might be available, it’s easier to bite the bullet. It’s a shame – he was on fire. Belt may need knee surgery. Flores may need a pair of surgeries on his arthritic knees. Abreu is back with the club, although he’s not expected to play over the weekend.
After completing a weekend series at Chase Field, the Rockies finish the season with seven games at Coors Field. The front end of their week is loaded with slumping, homer prone righties like Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, and Nick Pivetta. Although Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer are penciled in to finish out the week, we can expect abbreviated outings if not outright bullpen games.
So who might we target among the Rockies. The best option is David Dahl. With Story out of the lineup, Dahl bats third against right-handed pitchers. He’s a ground ball hitter which pairs well against some of the fly ball tendencies displayed by the Phillies pitchers. Even if he doesn’t hit anything over the wall, he’s in a great position for a productive series. Dahl comes with some serious red flags – his plate discipline and swinging strike rates hint at more downside than upside. These are mitigated by weak opponents. He’s only 13 percent owned.
Carlos Gonzalez is much more widely rostered at 49 percent owned. And frankly, he’s in the midst of a deep slump. Gonzalez tends to struggle most against left-handed pitchers and away from Coors Field. Since he’ll spend the remainder of the season home and opposite right-handers, he’s worth a gamble. One last name to check in on is Garrett Hampson. He’s filling in for Story. Although Hamson’s power isn’t especially noteworthy, he hits enough line drives and fly balls to at least have a chance at a home run. He’s a better bet for stolen bases and batting average.