Brad Johnson

Homer Report

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Carpenter Stays Hot

Saturday, August 11, 2018


As of last week, there were only three players in the over-30 home run club. Membership has spiked to seven over the previous seven days. One of those – Matt Carpenter – can no longer be overlooked as a legitimate 40 home run threat. Meanwhile, 42 players have reached the 20 home run plateau. Another record breaking total of 20 homer hitters may be in the cards. We’re likely to see more power surges over the final seven weeks of the season.

 

Shall we dive right in?

 

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Weekly Leaders

 

Matt Carpenter: 5 HR

Khris Davis: 4 HR

Mark Trumbo: 4 HR

Hunter Renfroe: 4 HR

 

Carpenter is a lesson in the shortcomings of projections. The Cardinal has long looked like a power breakout candidate despite bopping fewer than 25 home runs in the last two seasons. He has that coveted combination of hard, pulled, fly ball contact. However, prior to mid-May, he was in the midst of a terrible season. Since May 16, he’s batting an absurd .336/.434/.730 with 29 of his 32 home runs – and 27 doubles to boot. His 2018 resurrection was completely unprojectable. Even if you thought he’d rebound, there’s no sane way to predict his last 341 plate appearances of utter dominance.

 

By contrast, Davis is the most consistent slugger in the league. He’s on his way to a third straight 40 home run season despite modest accompanying skills (.256 average, .330 OBP). In an alternate reality, Trumbo would have the exact same career as Davis. He’s up to 17 home runs in 332 plate appearances – not too far shy of a 40 homer pace. Trumbo, when healthy, has comparable strikeout, walk, average, and OBP rates to Davis.

 

Renfroe matches the same profile as Davis and Trumbo except at a much younger age. He’s basically analogous to 2014 Davis or 2011-2012 Trumbo. The 26-year-old has 12 home runs in 258 plate appearances to go with a .246/.310/.483 batting line. An injury to Wil Myers has created a temporary opportunity for every day play. His hot streak may keep the door open at the expense of Franmil Reyes and Travis Jankowski. Long term, he’ll have to contend with a small herd of outfield prospects.

 

My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders

 

J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox: 35 HR, 47 HR projected

Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics: 33 HR, 46 HR projected

Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians: 33 HR, 43 HR projected

Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers: 31 HR, 43 HR projected

Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals: 32 HR, 43 HR projected

Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners: 30 HR, 41 HR projected

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels: 30 HR, 41 HR projected

Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees, 28 HR, 40 HR projected

Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies: 29 HR, 39 HR projected

Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians: 29 HR, 39 HR projected

 

Mookie Betts narrowly missed inclusion on the list with a projection of 38 home runs. Most of these players are on the ascension with Trout the lone exception. His supposedly minor wrist injury has turned into a stint on the disabled list. He’s not expected to miss much more than the minimum. Elsewhere in potential top 10 injury news, Aaron Judge is slightly behind schedule with his own wrist issue.

 

Disabled

 

***Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (wrist contusion)

***George Springer, Houston Astros (left thumb sprain)

***Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals (groin inflammation)

***Wil Myers, San Diego Padres (left foot contusion)

***Tommy Pham, Tampa Bay Rays (right foot fracture)

Scott Schebler, Cincinnati Reds (right shoulder sprain)

Jose Altuve, Houston Astros (right knee discomfort)

Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks (frayed rotator cuff – out for season)

Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (left shoulder discomfort)

Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds (shoulder subluxation – out for season)

Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants (hyperextended knee)

Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets (calcified heels – out for season)

Clint Frazier, New York Yankees (post-concussion syndrome)

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (chip fracture in right wrist)

Nomar Mazara, Texas Rangers (sprained thumb)

Zack Cozart, Los Angeles Angels (torn labrum – out for season)

Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland Indians (calf strain)

Jay Bruce, New York Mets (right hip strain)

Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees (groin strain)

Jorge Soler, Kansas City Royals (fractured foot)

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (ruptured biceps tendon – out for season)

Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (calf strain)

Franchy Cordero, San Diego Padres (forearm strain)

Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (TJS – out for season)

***denotes new injury

 

A correction from last week: Schebler did not return to the Reds. The new plan is for him to be activated next weekend. As expected, Dickerson and Devers spent the minimum time on the shelf for their left hamstring strains. Correa finally returned too. Altuve may be back soon as well – he’s set to test his knee today or tomorrow.

 

Although there are five new injuries, none of them are especially serious. With a two to four week recovery timeline, Pham will probably miss the most action. Trout and O’Neill should be back by next weekend while Springer and Myers may not be far behind them.

 

Power Spotlight

 

Last week, we discussed a player with no home runs for the power spotlight. Jorge Polanco acknowledged our faith by popping a three-run homer on Thursday. We’ll see if it starts a streak. This week, I’m taking a safer approach by highlighting somebody with considerably more power production this season – White Sox cleanup hitter Daniel Palka.

 

At just five percent owned, Palka is widely available on fantasy waiver wires. The lefty slugger is channeling a sort of poor man’s Joey Gallo. He has a serious swing-and-miss problem (34 percent strikeout rate) which in turn has led to a painful .238 average and .281 OBP. Participants in OPS leagues can feel better about his .783 OPS.

 

Anytime we see low OBP with above average OPS, we know the hitter is making the most of his contact. Indeed, Palka has 18 home runs in 285 plate appearances – an over 40 homer pace in a full season of work. The 26-year-old isn’t an extreme fly ball hitter like Gallo, but he does put over 40 percent of his contact in the air. Combined with a 26.1 percent HR/FB rate and power friendly Guaranteed Rate Field, Palka seemingly has the skills to continue bopping big flies. He projects to hit eight more over the course of about 130 plate appearances.

 

The shape of his production puts fantasy owners in an awkward spot. The White Sox lineup is generally ineffective. Most of the bats ahead of Palka post low OBPs, meaning he receives fewer RBI opportunities than the average cleanup hitter. He also sits versus left-handed pitchers. With rough rate stats and negligible speed, Palka looks like a one trick pony. On the plus side, of batters at or below five percent ownership, Palka will probably hit the most home runs. If you need just the one category of production and have some padding in the other categories, a flier on Palka is a solid idea. Use him against bad right-handed pitchers at power friendly venues.



You can read more from Brad Johnson on Rotoworld, FanGraphs, and RotoBaller. Find him on Patreon and Twitter @BaseballATeam.
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