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March 18, 2014

The Darkhorses

Home Runs

by BP Fantasy Staff


One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’ll take a look at offense this week and pitching next. Yesterday’s look at batting average is here. And, without further ado, here are some players capable of teaching Chris Davis a thing or two about hitting dingers this year:

OUTSIDE THE TOP 10

Pedro Alvarez, 3B, PIT
The low-batting-average and high-whiff-rate combination is going to make it difficult for Alvarez to get there, but even a slight uptick in the batting average could lead to a 40-45 home-run season. Alvarez’s raw power is ridiculous. It’s hard to win a home run title with a low batting average, but not unprecedented. Dave Kingman’s .204 batting average in 1982 with 37 home runs is the record for a titleholder; a home-run title with a .240 or .250 batting average isn’t impossible. —Mike Gianella

Prince Fielder, 1B, TEX
The skills are diminishing, but that does not mean that positive fluctuations do not exist along a downward trend. More importantly, if park factors mask his decline, the dingers still count. Would I bet on him hitting 40 home runs? Maybe not, but I do not think it is an impossibility. The fact that he has played in at least 157 games each of the last eight seasons improves the chances of this prediction. —Jeff Quinton

Curtis Granderson, OF, NYM
I think Curtis Granderson's big power totals are wrongly perceived to be a product of Yankee Stadium. He had back-to-back 40-homer seasons in 2011-2012 and while Yankee Stadium helped, it didn’t make him a power hitter. Over his four years as a Yankee, he hit 115 home runs with a 55/45 percent split in favor of Yankee Stadium. The first 40-homer season was a near-even 21/20 split, though the second was more home-dependent at 26/17. Last year, Citi Field was just below Yankee Stadium in home run park factor so Granderson might not have such a tough time sustaining his power during his first go-round in the National League. Paul Sporer

Bryce Harper, OF, WAS
There is no question that Harper carries the potential to hit 40-plus homers in a season; however, whether he can do it in 2014 remains to be seen. In fact, a 21-year-old has only reached that milestone once in major-league history, and not in more than a half-century: Eddie Matthews hit 47 homers in 1957. For Harper to accomplish this, he's going to have to do two things: increase his fly ball rate (which is low for a slugger at 33.2 percent for his career) and stay healthy. While his all-out style of play may lead to some concerns about injury, he's still only been on the major league disabled list once in two seasons. Of course, he could just get lucky and have a 28 percent HR:FB rate, but that's more #analysis than analysis. —Bret Sayre

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Five to Watch: Nationa... (03/18)
<< Previous Column
The Darkhorses: Battin... (03/17)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article The Darkhorses: Runs B... (03/19)
Next Article >>
Baseball Prospectus Ne... (03/18)

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