March 11, 2013 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2013 Fantasy Baseball Leaders and Laggards: Home Run Tracker Leaders Edition

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Josh Hamilton, OF, Los Angeles Angels

ESPN’s Home Run Tracker is one of the most useful parts of the ESPN media empire. It’s certainly more useful than Skip Bayless on First Take. The site catalogs and rates every home run hit during a given season and basically verifies what fantasy GMs who pay attention to HR:FB ratios already know.  

Power is at a premium in 2013. Gone are the days of random middle infielder x (still looking at you, Bret Boone) randomly going from the mid-teens in homers to the 40s almost over night. Fantasy GMs have to be a lot smarter when looking for power in 2013 than they did in 2003. The men on this list are the men that supplied the most “no-doubt” homers in baseball in 2012. These are the guys who provided the moonshots that got played on SportsCenter. These are the men that delivered enough thump to lead fantasy GMs to glory last year. 

1. Josh Hamilton 15
2. Adam Dunn 14
3. Edwin Encarnacion 14
4. Mark Trumbo 12
5. Curtis Granderson 12
6. Giancarlo Stanton 11
7. Alfonso Soriano 10
8. Pedro Alvarez 10
9. Prince Fielder 10
10. Adam Jones 10

This is why Josh Hamilton will go in the top 25 or so in most mixed league drafts. He lead the league in mammoth homers AND just enough homers. The power isn’t in question. His health should always be in question.

Something happened to Adam Dunn in 2011. We may never find out what it was, but there was something, either physical or mental, that prevented Adam Dunn from being Adam Dunn. He went from five no doubt homers in 20011 to 14 in 2012. His HR:FB ratio rebounded from 9.6% in 2011 to 29.3% in 2012. He seems to have worked out whatever issues he was working through in 2011. Now if he could only work out how to beat the shift.

Edwin Encarnacion managed to blast 42 homers during a career year in 2012. 14 where “No-doubters” and 10 were “Just-enoughs.” Regression should always be a concern after a hitter truly breaks out like E5 did in 2012. His 18.7% HR:FB ratio was above his 13.1% career average, but it wasn’t a ridiculous jump like Chase Headley. What was interesting about E5’s 2012 season was his swing %. He posted a 40.4% swing % which is by far the lowest of his career. This is taking the phrase “waiting for your pitch” to a whole new level.

Mark Trumbo basically delivered the year fantasy GMs expected despite never really having a position. Trumbo spent time at first, third, right, left and DH. He’s pretty much locked in as the Angels’ DH for 2013. The 26.1% K% is a concern, but it comes with the power. His 20.6% HR:FB ratio was higher than his 19.1% career average, but it’s not ridiculously high. He’s being slightly overdrafted at this point, but smart GMs will capitalize if his stock starts to slip as we get closer to the season.

Curtis Granderson won’t see the field until May. There’s really not much else to discuss other than the fact that he’s coming off a year that saw Grandy post a 24.2% HR:FB ratio. His career average is 15.2% and his previous high was 20.5%. Well, he can blame the injury if (when?) he regresses in 2013.

Fantasy GMs are concerned about the guys batting in front of and behind Giancarlo Stanton. Well, Giancarlo only posted an OPS over 1.000 in the months of August and September last year. Those were the months in which the Marlins were shedding a few of their assets and playing a lot of kids. Stanton has posted HR:FB ratios well over 20% in each of his three seasons and is a solid bet to continue to thump.

Alfonso Soriano is entering his age 37 season. He doesn’t run any more, but the power is still there. He’s still the same guy he’s always been with low walks, high K’s and poor plate discipline, but hey, cheap power. His 17.8% HR:FB ratio was the highest he’s posted since 2006. He’ll likely end up around his 15.1% rate, but he’s been around that number his entire career.

Look who resurrected his career! Pedro Alvarez, ladies and gentlemen! Most fantasy GMs wrote Alvarez off once they heard the words “Latin food addiction.” Alvarez is still a little big, but he’s no longer “eating-his-way-out-of-baseball” big. He’s “functionally” big. His HR:FB ratio was an off the charts 25.0%. The problem is that we don’t really have enough data on Alvarez to know if it’s legit or not. The power is legit, but the rate at which he hit homers might not be. He’s a fine corner infield or utility spot guy in most mixed leagues.

Prince Fielder hit 10 “no-doubters?” Only 10? He’s got that whole odd year-even year thing going on and it’s an odd year. What it looks like is regression in action. He posts HR:FB ratios over 20% in odd years and regresses under 20% in odd years. It’s rare to see it play out so perfectly, but it has to line up that way sometimes, statistically speaking.

Adam Jones finally had a real breakout and it looks like he should be able to maintain some semblance of his 2012 numbers. He posted a 18.8% HR:FB ratio last year and owns a 14.4% career mark. He’s been in the upper teens for most of his career, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock to see him be up there again for 2013. His .218 ISO in 2013 was a career high and it would be a surprise to see Jones post a number that high again. He owns a .174 ISO for his career. He’s unlikely to crack 30 homers again, but Jones is a legit five category contributor even if his HR totals wind up in the upper 20s instead of the low 30s.  



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