March 26, 2013 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2013 Fantasy Baseball Leaders and Laggards: Hitters’ HR:FB Ratio Leaders Edition

2013 Fantasy Baseball Leaders and Laggards: Hitters’ HR:FB Ratio Leaders Edition
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These are the guys that won a lot of leagues for a lot of fantasy GMs in 2012. There are also a few guys who will lose a lot fantasy leagues for a lot of fantasy GMs.

Statistical variance is a door that swings both ways. Some of the guys here swung a little too far in 2012 and have a really good chance to swing back the other way in 2013. One of these guys guaranteed to disappoint is a consensus first round draft pick AND the consensus best player at his position. Take a look at the list first. Can you find him? At least two of the guys on this list will probably go in the top three of most drafts and will likely go in the top three next year as well. As long as one is able to avoid the MLB ban hammer for a second straight year. 

These men put the “leader” in leaders and laggards. They hit baseball high in the air often and said baseballs tend to reach the cheap seats. For these men power is a lifestyle, not an attribute. These are the HR:FB ratio leaders…

1. Adam Dunn


2. Josh Hamilton


3. Chris Davis


4. Pedro Alvarez


5. Curtis Granderson


6. Robinson Cano


7. Miguel Cabrera


8. Ryan Braun


9. Mike Trout


10. Chase Headley


Adam Dunn hits baseballs in the air like people vote in Chicago. Often. His 29.3% HR:FB ratio from last year was a career high and will likely end up closer to his 22.0% HR:FB ratio, but he was due for a correction from his career low 9.6% in 2011. Dunn should absolutely be on this list, but he won’t be at the top of it again next year without a huge statistical variance.

Josh Hamilton hit a career high 25.6% HR:FB ratio in a contract year? That never happens! Hamilton absolutely fits the fly ball/power hitter profile with a 1.12 career GB:FB ratio and a career 19.4% HR:FB ratio. It would be easy to predict a regression for Hamilton, but he’ll be playing half his games in a different ballpark from last year. The numbers say he’s due to regress, but his new home ballpark will have an impact on Hamilton’s season. It’s far too early to have any idea which way Hamilton’s season will end up at.

Chris Davis turned his career around last year, but needed a 25.2% HR:FB ratio in order to do it. Davis owns a 19.3% mark for his career and hasn’t been near 20% since his breakout rookie season. Davis will provide power, but expecting a repeat of his 33 homer 2012 season isn’t a winning strategy.

Pedro Alvarez managed to club 30 homers while only hitting fly balls 34.5% of the time. He pulled it off because he managed to enjoy a statistical variance. Alvarez is capable of producing major league level power, but it’s unlikely he’ll match his 2012 numbers. He doesn’t hit enough fly balls to produce homers without a ridiculously high HR:FB ratio.

The Yankees have made a lot of mistakes in the last few years (days?), but Curtis Granderson wasn’t one of them. They said Granderson would succeed in New Yankee and he has succeeded in New Yankee. Granderson posted a 28.0% HR:FB ratio at home in 2012 and a 21.0% mark in 2011. Granderson would have been primed for another 40+ homer season…if he hadn’t broke his forearm. Granderson will likely be back in early May, but it remains to be seen how his power will recover from a forearm injury. We’ve seen wrist injuries sap power in the past, but it’s hard to think of a player who suffered a forearm injury like Granderson. He’s a stay away unless you’re feeling like rolling the dice.

Robinson Cano finally broke through the 30 homerun glass ceiling last year. Congrats, Robby. The only problem is that it came with a career high 24.1% HR:FB ratio. Robinson’s career mark is only 13.7% and he’ll probably be closer to his career average than his career high in 2013. It looks like the year to own Cano was last year. The other issue with Cano is that he doesn’t hit that many fly balls. His FB% was only 25.8% last year and he owns a 31.2% mark for his career. So, he didn’t hit many flies last year, got lucky when he did and fantasy GMs want to take him in the first six picks of a fantasy draft in 2013? Good luck.

Miguel Cabrera had a career year last year. He blasted 40+ homers for the first time in his career and it came with a career high 23.0% HR:FB ratio. His career average is 18.9%. Cabrera probably won’t hit 40+ homers again, but he’s still one of the best two hitters in fantasy baseball and he doesn’t have the threat of a 50-game PED rip hanging over his head. Anyone staying away from Cabrera because of his HR:FB ratio probably needs to quit playing fantasy baseball altogether.

Speaking of a 50-game PED suspension, Ryan Braun! Braun also blasted 40+ homers for the first time in his career and it came with a 22.8% HR:FB ratio. Braun’s career average is 18.8%. He was slightly over his head last year, but fantasy GMs should not be scared off of Braun because of his HR:FB ratio. There are plenty of other reasons to be scared away from Braun.

It’s really impossible to know if Mike Trout’s 21.6% HR:FB ratio in 2012 is legit. We simply don’t have a large enough sample size to make an educated guess. We know he’s bulked up over the offseason. There’s a chance that he could find himself on top of this list at the end of 2013. There’s also a chance he could regress. There’s really no way to know and any selection of Trout is a gamble at this point.

If there was one guy on this list that was absolutely guaranteed to regress it was Chase Headley and that was before he hurt his thumb. His 21.4% HR:FB ratio in 2012 was more than double his 10.0% career average.


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