Yankees Bash Back

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Sluggers combined for another 260 home runs over the last week. That puts us on pace for 5,966 dingers on the season – an increase of 33 over last week’s pace. As of this writing, there are 16 days of baseball remaining. The players can reach the arbitrary 6,000 home run plateau by averaging 255 home runs per week. It would take a mildly heroic effort to pull it off. This past week was a good first step.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

Top Performances of the Week

Joey Gallo, 5 HR
Austin Hays, 5 HR
Aaron Judge, 5 HR
Brandon Belt, 4 HR
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 4 HR
Jesus Sanchez, 4 HR
Jorge Polanco, 4 HR
Jarred Kelenic, 4 HR
13 Others, 3 HR

The lofty weekly total was fueled by huge individual performances. Gallo and Judge entered the season as Top 10 power threats and spent most of the year in consideration. There’s still a small chance they’ll be bumped from the Top 10 in the remaining days. Hays has developed a reputation for streaky performances in his fragmented career. Since doubling in the pinch on August 25, he’s batting .337/.375/.735 with eight home runs, five doubles, and three triples in 88 plate appearances. Those in shallower formats might consider riding the wave through head-to-head playoffs or final days of the roto campaign.

Guerrero Jr.’s Triple-Crown odds improved dramatically over the last week. He’s now narrowly leading in home runs and batting average. He has an uphill battle to fight in the RBI column. Salvador Perez (112 RBI) and Jose Abreu (111 RBI) have a healthy lead on his 104 RBI. If he can catch them, it probably means he’s successfully defended the other categories.

Polanco and Belt are the sort of veterans we expect to occasionally bash a thumbless-handful of baseballs in a given week. This is actually Belt’s first season of more than 20 home runs despite long possessing the power and launch angles associated with 30-40 homer threats. Undoubtedly, he’s used knowledge gained from Statcast and other sources to make subtle tweaks to his game. He’s a free agent this winter, and it would be nice to see him slugging away from power-suppressant Oracle Park.

On May 6, Polanco was hitting a miserable .206/.272/.304 with one home run through 114 plate appearances. Since then, he’s popped 30 dingers in 476 plate appearances to go with a .296/.347/.573 batting line. Imagine if he’d done that all season. Well, it’s not that hard to imagine. He’d have six more home runs for a total of 37 on the year.

A couple rookies round out the quadruple-dinger corps. Sanchez is providing a healthy showing in his second big league exposure. He’s long been dogged with questions regarding his ability to earn an everyday role. Presently, his 12 home runs in 204 plate appearances backed up by a .243/.314/.492 triple-slash is reminiscent of the guy he replaced – Adam Duvall.

Kelenic also has 12 home runs, albeit in 317 plate appearances. While he’s rode a power surge to a .255/.293/.564 line in 58 September plate appearances, his walk and strikeout rates are still markedly worse than expected. The 22-year-old still appears overmatched. Seeing some power rise to the fore is an encouraging sign.

The triple-dinger collective mostly consists of the sorts you expect: Salvador Perez, Matt Olson, Bryce Harper, Francisco Lindor, Nolan Arenado, Lourdes Gurriel, Giancarlo Stanton, Mitch Haniger, Miguel Sano, Bo Bichette, and Ryan Mountcastle. The two leftovers are Jeimer Candelario and Brett Phillips.

This season, Candelario built upon a fluky-looking 2020 breakout by hitting a more believable .273/.348/.448 with 15 home runs in 520 plate appearances. The switch-hitter is more of a doubles threat than a true home run guy. There is potential for modest adjustments to unlock a 10-home run spike next season.

As for Phillips, it’s incredible what the Rays have squeezed from an apparently busted prospect. He’s having something like the season we expected for Dylan Moore, popping 13 home runs with 14 steals and a .214/.310/.436 line in 270 plate appearances. The low plate appearance total is key – the Rays are very good about putting Phillips in a position to succeed. Considering half his plate appearance end with a walk or strikeout, he needs the help.

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My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays, 46 HR, 49 projected
Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals, 45 HR, 48 proj
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels, 44 HR, 48 proj
Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres, 39 HR, 43 proj
Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays, 39 HR, 42 proj
Joey Gallo, New York Yankees, 37 HR, 41 proj
Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics, 35 HR, 39 proj
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees, 35 HR, 39 proj
Adam Duvall, Atlanta Braves, 34 HR, 38 proj
Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners, 34 HR, 37 proj

It’s a three-way battle for the home run crown. Ohtani has only two home runs since the start of this month and will need to pick up the pace if he wanted to recover the top spot. Guerrero is in the driver’s seat though Perez simply refuses to slow down. Guerrero’s Triple-Crown chances rest on Perez dropping the ball.

Last week, Olson and Judge were bumped from the Top 10 due to a string of tepid weeks. They’ve surged back into consideration at the expense of Brandon Lowe and Jose Ramirez. They now rank 12th and 13th respectively. Slipping into 11th is Max Muncy. They, along with Rafael Devers, all project for 37 home runs. Pete Alonso, Bryce Harper, and Mitch Haniger all have a reasonable chance to creep into the Top 10.

Injured Sluggers

New

Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox, lower back, late-September
Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds, intercostal strain, late-September
Jo Adell, Los Angeles Angels, back, out for season
Rowdy Tellez, Milwaukee Brewers, right patella strain, uncertain

Vaughn seems to have nagging back and leg soreness so the White Sox are getting him some rest. While he wasn’t much of a power threat this season, he performed decently prior to his current slump. Winker will probably only return if the Reds are still in the playoff picture 10 days from now. He was hit by a pitch yesterday only hours after being activated off the injured list. Tellez’s recovery status is unknown. The injury, as described, could take days to months to heal depending on severity.

Adell ran into a wall and hurt his back. It’s a shame because he had turned a corner at the plate and was starting to look like another middle of the order threat to someday pair with Ohtani, Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Jared Walsh.

Cody Bellinger could land on the injured list due to a fractured rib. The stated plan is to give him a couple days of rest. With the way he’s playing, it might be better for the club if he’s not in there at half-strength. Gallo is deal with a neck strain of unknown severity. Nelson Cruz is day-to-day after being hit on the arm with a pitch.

Existing

Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays, hamstring, late-September
Willy Adames, Milwaukee Brewers, quad, late-September
Jesus Aguilar, Miami Marlins, knee, knee soreness, out for season?
A.J. Pollock, Los Angeles Dodgers, hamstring strain, late-September
Connor Joe, Colorado Rockies, hamstring strain, late-September
Justin Upton, Los Angeles Angels, back, out for season?
Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies, abdominal tear, out for season

Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins, lower back strain, late-September
Tyrone Taylor, Milwaukee Brewers, oblique, mid-September
Cavan Biggio, Toronto Blue Jays, neck discomfort/elbow strain, late-September
Ramon Laureano, Oakland Athletics, PEDs, out for season
Garrett Cooper, Miami Marlins, sprained elbow, out for season
Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins, wrist surgery, out for season
Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves, knee, out for season
Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees, hand, out for season

Clint Frazier, New York Yankees, head, out for season
Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels, hip surgery, out for season

Willie Calhoun, Texas Rangers, fractured forearm, out for season
Kyle Garlick, Minnesota Twins, hernia, status unknown
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, out for season?
Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds, knee surgery, out for season?
Ronald Guzman, Texas Rangers, knee surgery, season-ending

Pollock and Joe are eye rehab stints by the end of next week. That would give them just enough time to get some regular season hacks. Aguilar was originally expected to recover quickly, but he’s now expected to be done for the season. Garver is on the rehab trail. Adames has resumed fielding drills and could return soon. Franco is expected back when first eligible on Tuesday.

Returned to Action

Brandon Nimmo, New York Mets, hamstring
Jake Cronenworth, San Diego Padres, broken finger

Nimmo is expected to resume his post as the Mets leadoff man tonight against Aaron Nola. Cronenworth technically avoided the injured list thanks to expanded rosters. He made a pinch-hit appearance yesterday. It’s believed he’s available to start tonight.

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