August 14, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball: Leaders and Laggards HR:FB Ratio Revisited Leaders Edition

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Josh Hamilton, TEX

Some men are leaders and others are laggards. These guys should be among the league leaders in power production because, well, they’ve managed to put a lot of balls over the fences this year and they’re leading you to fantasy glory…for now.

1. Adam Dunn 29.8%
2. Josh Hamilton 26.2%
3. Robinson Cano 26.0%
4. Mark Trumbo 25.4%
5. Pedro Alvarez 25.3%
6. Curtis Granderson 25.0%
7. Ryan Braun 24.6%
8. Josh Willingham 24.4%
9. Billy Butler 23.5%
10. Mike Napoli 22.7%

Adam Dunn should be leading this list. He’s been over 20% every year except his rookie year and last year’s bizarre 9.6% HR:FB ratio year. Is there any chance that he wasn’t either horribly out of shape or hiding an injury last year? It has to be a 0% chance, right?

Josh Hamilton has tailed off since May. Posting a .400+ BABIP will do that, but his power production is still elite. He’s outperforming his 19.2% career average and he’s hitting more fly balls this year(40.1% FB rate) than either of the previous two seasons. Hmmm. Sounds like a guy fantasy GMs should want no part of next year, especially after he signs whatever ridiculous contract some foolish real-life GM is bound to offer.

Robinson Cano is posting a career high HR:FB ratio partly because he’s posting a career low 24.9% FB %. He’s also posting a career high 26.2% LD%. It wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that some of those “line drives” have found their way to the seats this year. Cano is an elite hitter who appears to be having a career year. He might even finally crack 30 homers this year. You want Cano in your lineup and you don’t want to worry about his peripherals.

It’s safe to say that Mark Trumbo is playing over his head this year. His FB % for this year is identical to last year’s 38.4%, but his HR:FB ratio is almost eight percent higher than last year. It’s nice to see a guy like Trumbo have success at the major league level, but he’s an over-draft candidate for next year and a guy who could be headed for regression.

Pedro Alvarez hasn’t eaten his way out of the league and has remembered how to put the ball in the air. He’s still striking out at a 30%+ clip, but, hey, cheap power. Pedro’s bizarre, injury-riddled 2011 season with a 2.15 GB:FB ratio is a memory. Pedro with a much more palatable 1.25 GB:FB ratio and a 36.2% FB % is here and hopefully here to stay. He’ll never hit for batting average as long as his K % stays over 30%, but he’s a solid bet for 25+ homers in a league where that actually means something again. His career average HR:FB ratio is at 19.2%, so he’s playing over his head with a 25.3%. A regression, even to his career norms, will still produce power numbers acceptable for roster inclusion in most leagues.

This could be the high point of Curtis Granderson as a power hitter. Every power hitter suffers through regression at some point. Granderson’s current 25.0% HR:FB ratio is a career high by about five percent. Grandy has exactly one season over 20% other than this season. His FB % sits at 40.5%. That number is under his 43.9% career average. So, he’s hitting fewer fly balls, but more of them are finding the cheap seats. Hmmm. Sounds like a guy who is primed to regress from(yet another) career year in New Yankee Stadium. He’s still an elite level power producer and deserves to be considered as such even if he does regress.

There could be a case made that Ryan Braun is actually having a better year this year than last year. Braun is hitting roughly the same number of fly balls this year as he did last year, but he’s hitting more homers. Hmmm. Again, this sounds like an elite hitter who could be do for a regression next year. The rub is that Braun could very well regress from his current HR:FB ratio, but he’s still capable of posting elite fantasy numbers. He’s Ryan Braun. He was the best hitter in baseball last year for a reason and a chance for regression from a career high is no reason to shy away from him.

What’s amazing about Josh Willingham’s 2012 season isn’t that he’s posting a 24.4% HR:FB ratio. The amazing part is that he’s posting a 30.4% at home. Maybe Morneau and Mauer are the ones who have it all wrong. Maybe it’s not the ballpark’s fault they can’t hit for power any more. Who new it would take Josh Willingham to show everyone how it’s done. Dude has hit for power everywhere he’s been. It’s not his fault he’s eternally underrated. Is he due for a regression? Let’s see here. Currently posting a 24.4% HR:FB ratio and he owns a career average of 15.6%. Yeah, he’s definitely an over-draft candidate for 2013. Be careful trying to get lucky twice with Willingham.

Speaking of over-draft candidates for 2013…Billy Butler ladies and gentlemen! Butler’s current 23.5% HR:FB ratio is almost double his career average. Most will say, “Wait! Isn’t Butler in his prime? Shouldn’t he be breaking out?” Well, most, let’s take a deeper look. Butler is posting a 1.61 GB:FB ratio(career high!). So, he’s hitting mostly balls on the ground, but managing to post a career high in homers. You’ve been warned.

Oh, Mike Napoli! We knew that .344 BABIP meant you had a career year, but there was at least one fantasy GM in every league that thought you weren’t just lucky. That BABIP came with a career high 25.4% HR:FB ratio. They said you would regress from that number as well…and you did. Napoli is only posting a 22.7 HR:FB ratio. Regression comes in all sizes. The power numbers with Napoli, as always, are totally legit. The problem that the batting average won’t always be there and now the health won’t always be there. He’s destined to be the MLB version of NBA center Ben Wallace. Never before has a hitter gone from totally underrated to totally overrated, then BACK to totally underrated as quickly as Napoli has.  


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