Power On the Rise

Did you know home runs are up on the year? No one’s talking about it! It’s crazy.

OK, so everyone’s talking about it always and I’m going to do the same today. While seemingly everyone is hitting homers left and right, some guys have been left in the cold and they’ve taken up residence on all of my teams. Hilarious, Paul… absolutely hilarious. Anyway, there are some guys with batted ball profiles worthy of more home runs than they are currently hitting, creating some buying opportunities for those of you lagging a bit in power.

Here are four guys to consider going after:

Rhys Hoskins | 1B/OF, PHI – 18 HR

Hoskins has the most homers of our group, but even his 18 are shy of what this profile can deliver. While he is pacing to match his 34 HR from last year, this a 40-homer profile. Like so many other hitters this year, his hard contact rate is up and he eclipses 50% in both his flyball and pull rates all of which is conducive to major power. And Hoskins has delivered power with career-bests in SLG (.528) and ISO (.262), but again, I think he’s capable of more.

His 18% HR/FB rate is in line with the average at 1B, though it seems like a small tweak could push him north of 20% with ease. Hoskins has seen his infield flyball rate rise to 17%, 8th highest in the league among qualified hitters. Hoskins is a buy-high for me. He’s been very good – slotting 12th at 1B and 23rd at OF – so you’re not catching any sort of discount. That’s fine, though, as his status quo works and he has the kind of upside to lead the league in homers from here on out.

Justin Smoak | 1B, TOR – 12 HR

I’ll note off the bat that Smoak is currently on the IL with a quad strain. He is eligible for return and could be back any day now. Smoak has sharply cut his strikeout rate, down eight points to 18% and nearly matched it with a 17% walk rate. His barrel rate is up and he’s continued to pull the ball in the air at levels equal to or better than his 2017 output when he smacked 38 HR.

Despite that, his full-season pace is under 30 homers and he’s deserved quite a bit better than his .225 AVG. This makes Smoak a particularly interesting buy because you could also get a strong batting average the rest of the way along with a jump in homer output. Baseball Savant has his expected batting average up at .279, but I’d gladly take anything north of a .260 with a throng of homers once he’s back on the field.

Justin Turner | 3B, LAD – 8 HR

Where Turner differs from the rest of the group is that he just needs to lift the ball to really see his home run take off. All the other hitters listed have strong flyball and pull rates capable of producing strong HR totals. Turner’s flyball rate has dropped seven points to 37%, yielding the lowest per 600 PA home run rate of the last four season at just 16 after sitting at 26, 23, and 20 in 2016-18. He’s highly unlikely to threaten a 30-homer season with just eight in 301 PA already, but I think 25 is in play and he’s already a bankable .300 hitter to go with any potential power surge.

Cavan Biggio | 2B, TOR – 5 HR

Smoak’s rookie teammate already has a pair of 2-homer games in his short career and 5 total on the season. He’s actually been quite good in 111 PA despite his .244 AVG as he’s added 3 SB with the homers. I think there’s room for more. The 24-year old is pummeling the ball in all the right ways to generate even more power than his 29-homer pace thus far.

Obviously, it’s a small sample, but a 50% flyball rate, 55% hard hit rate, and 42% pull rate is an excellent power profile. His 17% HR/FB rate is fine, but imagine what kind of output he could deliver with some good luck in the form of a HR/FB rate north of 20%. The projections have him around 10-11 home runs the rest of the way. There’s a reasonable path to an upside of 16-18. Even if he doesn’t necessarily boost the .244 AVG, anyone would take those homers especially when it’s likely to come with 6-9 SBs.

For those of you chasing power in some leagues like I am, is there anyone you’re targeting as a potential HR overperformer who might be a bit underrated or not necessarily have a cost commensurate with what you think they can do?

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and Content Director for OOTP Perfect Team. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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4 years ago

Matt chapman is putting up sneaky power numbers this year with 19 homers