Six Lightly Owned Home Run Contributors

Yesterday, I discussed four lightly owned hitters who could contribute positive value in stolen bases over the rest of the season in deep leagues. I inadvertently included all American Leaguers. Oops, my bad. Not again! So today, I’ll highlight six hitters who could be respectable sources of power for the deep league owner in need, half of which are National Leaguers!

Lonnie Chisenhall | 3B/OF CLE

Meet the new Chisenhall, outfielder version. After getting demoted and spending nearly two months on the farm, the former third baseman is back, reincarnated as a right fielder. Although UZR enjoyed his defensive work at third this year, he was terrible last year, so it was time to try something else with Giovanny Urshela taking over at the hot corner. And over a tiny sample, Chisenhall has been Gold Glove worthy given his 25.3 UZR/150 at his new position!

Chisenhall has never displayed a whole lot of power and his career 9.9% HR/FB rate is right around the league average. His current season mark also represents a career low. These are all bad signs, of course. But he’s shown better in the minors and he’s at a good age for growth. While he’s not going to face lefties, he should have all the right-handed starter at-bats to himself. I’m not expecting anything magical whatsoever, but with a job and at least league average power, you could do worse.

Ben Paulsen | 1B/OF COL

Paulsen has garnered the majority of the starts in place of the injured Justin Morneau and has essentially performed exactly how his minor league record would suggest he should. Although his batted ball distance data is based on only about half the fly balls he has actually hit, those 22 data points averaged about 298 feet, which is excellent. It easily supports a mid-teen HR/FB rate, which means he should continue at a similar home run pace the rest of the season.

But what could boost his home run total is an increase in fly ball rate. He’s actually hitting less than 30% of his balls in the air, which is lower than what you would typically expect from a power hitter. Part of the supposed problem is a high line-drive rate, which has helped inflate his BABIP, but has likely cost him a couple of homers. Either version is a solid one for a fantasy owner, but we can’t be sure which we’ll get the rest of the way.

Travis Shaw | 1B/3B BOS

Mike Napoli’s departure opened a gaping hole at first base in Boston and Shaw has stepped up to fill it. With Daniel Nava gone as well, the team has no other real alternatives on the Major League club to steal playing time away. So with playing time currently secure, he has impressed with the bat. He has hit for surprising power, especially considering his mediocre results during his time in the minors this year.

But perhaps more impressive than the power display is that he has struck out just 10.2% of the time, supported by a low 6.1% SwStk%. That strikeout rate is far better than anything he has done in the minors, except for a short stint at Double-A last year. This could suggest a generic hot streak in which he’s totally locked in or major improvement at age 25 right before our eyes. If you have an opening at the corners, might as well take a shot that he’s at least partially for real.

Jedd Gyorko | 2B SD

Remember him? Or have you sworn him off? After an intriguing rookie year in 2013 that saw Gyorko swat 23 homers, he flopped last season at the plate and dealt with plantar fasciitis that limited him to just 443 plate appearances. Continued poor play and a logjam at second base for the Padres earlier in the season led to his demotion to Triple-A, but now he’s back and seemingly getting another opportunity at the starter at second base.

Since his recall, he has managed a respectable .160 ISO and six homers in 155 plate appearances. He still isn’t bothering to walk and strikes out too frequently, but at least his power output has risen. Also encouraging is that his Hard% has rebounded back to what he posted in 2013. Offering power potential at a spot you don’t often get it from, he’s worth a look.

Eugenio Suarez | SS CIN

Taking over for Zack Cozart after his season ending knee injury, Suarez has done everything he could to replace Cozart’s offense. Though he hadn’t shown much power in the minors previously, he broke out at Triple-A this season, posting a .182 ISO, which has carried over to his time with the Reds. At age 24, you could start to believe that the power spike is for real.

In addition to the raw power surge, Suarez is doing the other things to help push the ball over the fence. He’s hitting fly balls about 40% of the time, while also pulling the ball over 40% of the time. Both of these are positives and will allow him to continue to contribute positive value in the home run category for a shortstop.

Tyler Collins | OF DET

Quietly, Collins has become the starting left fielder in Detroit, on the strong side of a platoon with Rajai Davis. With Yoenis Cespedes shipped out, there was the possibility that Davis became the every day left fielder and would regularly face right-handers. But he has just a .299 wOBA against righties this year and just a .287 mark for his career (versus a .348 mark against lefties). He has even been a negative in left field, so if he’s not contributing defensively and can’t hit righties, the Tigers rightfully found him a platoon partner.

Enter Collins. He was up earlier in the season helping fill in for an injured Victor Martinez, and I recommended him as a deep league waiver wire option back then. Oddly, his power has been MIA at Triple-A this season, as his ISO slipped below .100, but his power has played normally when he has been up with the Tigers, as his .169 ISO is more of what should be expected. He hit 21 homers at Double-A in 2013 and 18 last year at Triple-A, he pulls the balls over 40% of the time and has hit fly balls around 40% of the time. So with continued playing time likely and a good profile to hit for power in a pretty good lineup, he’s a good target in deeper leagues.

We hoped you liked reading Six Lightly Owned Home Run Contributors by Mike Podhorzer!

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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.

newest oldest most voted

My OF and UTIL spots are filled with platoons. I’d like to cut two of these guys so I can snag more SPs.

OBP league:

Danny Valencia

Plz advise


Forgot Khris Davis
And Paulsen*

are available.

Jackie T.
Jackie T.

Drop Kike, Valencia and Colabello, scoop up Davis and two pitchers.