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The home run tirade continues with another 212 dingers dinged in the last week. The seasonal pace has climbed to 5,201. While not on par with some recent season totals, we’re already ahead of the pace set in 2020 and could finish somewhere around the 5,600 home runs hit in both 2016 and 2018.
Rowdy Tellez, 5 HR
11 Others, 3 HR
Rowdy 3? More like Rowdy 5, am I right? Tellez has shown this capacity for potency throughout his career, but the Blue Jays didn’t have the patience to withstand the lows. He produces high-caliber exit velocities at a launch angle optimized for home run outcomes. He even has league average plate discipline. Where Tellez can lag is batting average. Between his plodding speed and certain characteristics of his batted ball profile, he has posted a .275 BABIP over his 1,222 plate appearance career.
The three-home run crowd is a diverse collection this week. First, the usual suspects: Giancarlo Stanton, Shohei Ohtani, Rhys Hoskins, and Kyle Schwarber are regular guests of this column. We’ll probably see a lot of Julio Rodriguez in the future too. I’ve spoken with scouts who believe the 21-year-old will eventually increase his launch angle in order to join the upper echelon of elite sluggers. He’s a future 40-homer threat even if his current approach won’t get him there.
Bryan Reynolds delivered a triple-dinger day on Wednesday afternoon. Since late-May, he’s hit 11 home runs in 163 plate appearances while slashing .286/.344/.571. His icy April is firmly in the rearview mirror. Teammate Michael Perez chipped in with his own trio of taters the next day. He’s the only surprise inclusion of the week. In 558 career plate appearances spread over five seasons, the backup catcher has hit a meager .178/.245/.312. This was the game of his life rather than a sign of things to come.
Three new players also contributed in the power department, none newer than Darick Hall. Through 13 plate appearances, he’s helped the Phillies forget about the absence of Bryce Harper. I’ve seen multiple comps to Dan Vogelbach on Twitter. Hall is maybe a little more active with his bat and less disciplined.
Christopher Morel has a three-game homer streak. This latest outburst came on the heels of a mini-slump from mid-to-late June over which he hit .179/.214/.205 in 42 plate appearances. It’s encouraging to see the sparkplug quickly shake off a funk rather than descending into the doldrums like so many rookie surprises.
Juan Yepez had his own slump to dump. He was a below average hitter from mid-May through mid-June. Since June 19, he’s batting .325/.317/.725 with four home runs in 41 plate appearances. If there’s a critique, it’s that he has no walks and a 29.3 percent strikeout rate over his latest hot streak. Yepez is known to err on the side of aggression, but he’s not usually this strikeout prone.
Last but not least is Luis Urías. He’s perhaps the least physical power hitter in the league. His season has been interrupted by two injuries. His hard contact rate is below that of 2021 when he tallied a surprising 23 home runs in 570 plate appearances.
My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders
Aaron Judge, 49 HR
Mike Trout, 44 HR
Kyle Schwarber, 44 HR
Pete Alonso, 43 HR
Byron Buxton, 42 HR
Yordan Álvarez, 42 HR
Giancarlo Stanton, 38 HR
Christian Walker, 38 HR
Shohei Ohtani, 38 HR
Anthony Rizzo, 38 HR
Judge won’t quit! Even when he isn’t among the top sluggers in a given week, he’s still consistently crushing a couple home runs. Below Judge, a tight five-man battle for second place is forming. Towards the bottom of the list, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Jose Ramirez, and C.J. Cron slipped from their previous perches, giving way to Stanton, Ohtani, and Rizzo. Walker has been dropping like a stone too. Of all the guys who have shown up in this section, he’s the one who seems the most out of place.
Austin Meadows, both Achilles, early-July
Jorge Soler, back, mid-July
Jazz Chisholm, back, mid-July
Hunter Renfroe, early-July
Trevor Larnach, abdominal strain, August
Bryce Harper, thumb, late-August
Ty France, elbow, early-July
It hasn’t been Meadows’ year. As he was nearing activation from the COVID-list, he was instead transferred to the 10-day injured list with strains to both Achilles tendons. The Marlins suffered a blow to their Wild Card hopes. They’ll be without two of their best hitters for at least a brief spell. There’s hope Renfroe will quickly shake off a calf strain, though we’ve seen these linger before – notably with Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout. Larnach will miss more than a month with an abdominal strain. Teammate Ryan Jeffers might need a stint on the injured list too for a thumb injury suffered on Friday. France is already participating in baseball activities and should be activated when first eligible on Tuesday.
Of course, the big loss was Harper who was hit by a pitch and required surgery to repair his thumb.
Mookie Betts, rib, early-July
Salvador Perez, thumb, late-August
Enrique Hernandez, hip, early-July
Tyler O’Neill, hamstring, early-July
Ozzie Albies, foot, September
Yasmani Grandal, back, mid-July
Anthony Rendon, wrist, out for season
Frank Schwindel, back, mid-July
Aristides Aquino, ankle, late-July
Mike Zunino, shoulder, early-July
Royce Lewis, torn ACL, out for season
Edwin Rios, hamstring, early-August
Tyler Naquin, quad, early-July
Kyle Lewis, concussion, mid-July
Wil Myers, knee, mid-July
Seiya Suzuki, finger, early-July
Kris Bryant, back, late-June
Tom Murphy, shoulder, out for season
Brandon Lowe, back, early-July
Miguel Sano, knee, mid-July
Mitch Haniger, ankle, mid-July
Eloy Jimenez, hamstring, early-July
Fernando Tatis Jr., wrist, early-August
Suzuki hopes to return on Independence Day (Monday). Betts and Hernandez aim to return around then too. The White Sox have drawn out Jimenez’s rehab stint as he gets back into shape. Naquin has begun his own rehab stint. The Reds have an incentive to get him fully healthy in time to put on a trade deadline showcase.
Murphy requires season-ending shoulder surgery. A few others like Sano, Myers, and Rios had their timelines extended.
Four players escaped injured purgatory. They’ve all resumed roles among the top three batters of their respective lineups. Wade is being used in a handedness platoon.
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For fantasy managers in a bit of a power rut, it can be challenging to pry home runs away from their rivals. Veteran third baseman Matt Chapman might represent a perfect buying opportunity. He’s coming off his worst season and has limped to a .223/.302/.410 batting line. Since he also has 11 home runs, 40 runs, and 35 RBI, he’s produced acceptable fantasy numbers. However, his current manager probably views him as expendable. Perhaps doubly so since he’s dealt with wrist soreness on a couple occasions. Per reports, it’s not considered to be serious.
There’s reason for optimism. For one, he’s fairly hot. Since late-May, he’s batting .277/.342/.505 in 111 plate appearances. More importantly, his underlying metrics are favorable. He’s trimmed his swinging strike and strikeout rates considerably. His is an extreme fly ball profile backed by near-elite exit velocities, barreled contact, and hard contact rates. In short, half of his contact is in the air, and he has the ingredients for a 20 percent home run to fly ball ratio (HR/FB). Presently, he has an unlucky-looking 12 percent HR/FB ratio.
He’s also a part of the best offense in baseball dating back to the start of 2021. Top offenses benefit from what we call network effects. It’s pretty simple. With danger lurking around every corner, the Blue Jays lineup offers no easy outs for opponents. That wears on bulk pitchers and can quickly chew through bullpens. The Jays frequently face lesser-quality relievers as opponents save their best arms for closer ballgames. These network effects mean Chapman is well-positioned to outperform expectations going forward.