4 Cheap Home Run Options

Yesterday, I discussed four hitters who could contribute in steals over the final three weeks that should be widely available, at least in shallower leagues. Let’s now shift our focus to power, and specifically, home runs. I filtered hitter performance over the last 30 days with a FB% of at least 37% (just above the league average) and a maxEV of at least 110 MPH. You need to hit a fly ball to knock one over the wall (welllll, except for those rare inside-the-parkers that require batter speed and usually a misplay or two) and you typically need to hit the ball hard. While these maxEV values may have come on a non-fly ball, it’s a quick proxy for power.

Bobby Dalbec | BOS 1B

Dalbec was one of the top prospects in the Red Sox system when he made his debut last year. On the surface, that debut, which amounted to 92 PAs, went swimmingly. He posted a .400 wOBA driven by some insane power output — a .338 ISO and 44.4% HR/FB rate. Heading into 2021, it looked like a 30-homer season was a given, though a low batting average was also almost guaranteed without a significant improvement in contact ability.

Then he opened the month of April in weak fashion. He homered just once and was likely dropped in many leagues. He rebounded in May and June, posting HR/FB rates of at least 20%, so things looked back to normal. But then he flopped again in July with just an 8.3% HR/FB rate. Those who picked him up amid a hot streak in earlier months may have dropped him again in July.

Luckily, August was just around the corner and a new Dalbec appeared. Not only did he post a HR/FB rate near 40%, he cut his strikeout rate below 30% for the first time in any month this year. His walk rate also skyrocketed into double digits for the first time. Perhaps he was turning the corner? While his strikeout rate has risen back above 30% and walk rate fallen back below 10%(but both still represent the second best monthly marks on the year) in September, his power has remained top notch, as he has posted a 27.3% mark so far in the month.

Given his up and down season, it would be easy to completely miss what Dalbec has been doing. There was concern when the Red Sox acquired Kyle Schwarber that Dalbec would lose his starting job, but Dalbec hasn’t let that happen by continuing to hit. There’s no reason to believe the power output won’t continue.

DJ Peters | TEX OF

Peters has been the epitome of two true outcomes this year, striking out nearly 35% of the time, but when he’s not striking out, he’s probably hitting a fly ball (nearly 50% of his batted balls). And of all those flies, about 22% have gone for a homer, and nearly 26% have left the yard over the last 30 days.

Peters has posted a HR/FB rate of at least 20% in four of six minor league stints and has been slapped with 70/70 Raw Power grades, so this isn’t exactly out of nowhere. He wasn’t a prospect because power is really all he has to offer on the hitting side of the equation. But if power is all you really need and your batting average rank is set in stone, he’s your man.

The Rangers’ youth movement has given Peters an extended opportunity and he has started most games in the outfield, taking the occasional seat, as their entire offensive roster is under the age of 29, except for Charlie Culberson (I still don’t understand why he would ever be given a start).

Jesus Sanchez | MIA OF

Sanchez was ranked as the Marlins 10th best prospect, but a monstrous .448 wOBA over a small sample at Triple-A may have pushed him up a couple of spots if the rankings were updated again. For someone with 70 grade power, Sanchez has posted good strikeout rates in the minors, mostly keeping his mark below 20%. Those additional balls in play will not only boost his batting average, but also result in more fly balls that could head over the wall.

Despite owning 70 grade power, Sanchez hadn’t actually shown such immense power in the minors. His HR/FB rates typically stood in the single digits or low teens, with some higher marks over small samples. But his Triple-A performance this year was the first time his power grade has actually been justified by his results. At age 23, it could mean this is his coming out party.

In 170 at-bats with the Marlins, his Triple-A power surge has carried over, as his HR/FB rate has actually risen even higher, while his ISO has fallen, but still sits well above .200. The one cautious note is his strikeout rate has spiked over 30%, but oddly that comes with an almost identical SwStk% mark that he has posted in the minors when his strikeout rate was below 20%. A quick look at his plate discipline metrics makes me question why his strikeout rate is so high, especially because his CStr% is actually better than average. This looks like a small sample fluke and I’d expect his strikeout rate to improve rapidly through the end of the season.

Michael A. Taylor | KCR OF

With just 11 homers, a 10.5% HR/FB rate and .108 ISO, you wouldn’t think of Taylor as a home run pickup. But his fly ball rate has picked up over the last 30 days, sitting just over 37%, while he has posted a maxEV of nearly 111. It’s clear he has the power to be a real contributor in the category.

Although he has that potential, it hasn’t manifested over the last 30 days. He has posted a puny 3.6% HR/FB rate during the period, despite the strong maxEV, which suggests to me that he’s overdue for some better results.

Aside from expectations of better power output, Taylor owners must be thankful that the Royals inexplicably continue to play him every day, despite the presence of Edward Olivares. While Taylor has played strong defense this year, his .285 wOBA is right in line with his career. It’s unlikely to get any worse, so if the Royals are happy with him as an every day guy at this level of hitting, then there shouldn’t be any worry he’s going to suddenly lose his starting job.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

Leave a Reply

3 Comment authors
MLBtoPDX#2024ArmadilloFuryJoe Wilkey Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Joe Wilkey
Joe Wilkey

Re: Taylor and “Although he has that potential, it hasn’t manifested over the last 30 days. He has posted a puny 3.6% HR/FB rate during the period, despite the strong maxEV, which suggests to me that he’s overdue for some better results.”

I would agree with this, except if your FB aren’t hit very hard, they’re not going to go for HR. Over the last 30 days, his average FB EV is 90.4, good enough for 133rd of the 182 players with at least 300 pitches over that time frame. He’s only had three barrels over that time frame, good for only 4.1% of his balls in play (league average is 7.8%). His full season barrel rate is 6.0%. Dude had a nice May, but I’m not counting on much power out of him going forward.