Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Jose Bautista, Ryan Howard, Miguel Cabrera, Dan Uggla, Adrian Gonzalez, Paul Konerko.
Nice group, yeah? Those are 9 of the 10 leaders in HR from 2009-2011.
Pujols, Fielder, Teixeira, Howard, Cabrera, Uggla.
Listed there are 6 of the 7 players to hit at least 30 HR in every season from 2009 through 2011.
The player not mentioned in both groupings? It’s this week’s Creeper, Mark Reynolds. His 113 HR from 2009-2011 place him 3rd (!) in all of baseball during that stretch, and yet he’s only owned in 47% of ESPN leagues and 51% of Yahoo leagues as of Sunday (!!). While his level of ownership is higher than most players detailed in these writeups, the criteria for the column are players who are underowned and primed for a big week. A 3B with perhaps the biggest power bat at the position meets those with ease.
The Orioles have a full week of games at home for week 6 (or 5, depending on league) of the fantasy season, with three of those scheduled against LHP. Matt Harrison and Derek Holland have struggled with RHH in their careers, Holland coughing up 50 of his 57 career HR and allowing twice as many flyballs as he does to same-handed batters, Harrison surrendering 35 of his career 47 HR and also showing a flyball rate that favors righty hitters. The other starter Texas has slated to pitch against Baltimore is Neftali Feliz, who has continued to be a flyball pitcher and has also experienced a drop in his K% since entering the rotation. For the Rays, Matt Moore profiles similarly to Holland and Harrison, a left-hander who is an extreme flyball pitcher against RHH. Jeremy Hellickson has shown improvement in his groundball rate so far this season, but still allows more FB than GB. Dogs in Tampa are thanking James Shields, as he’s burning worms at a 58% clip, but he’s still prone to gopheritis, allowing over 1 HR per 9 innings. With 6 of the 7 pitchers scheduled against the Orioles having issues surrendering flyballs and/or home runs, Camden Yards should see a few baseballs land in the bleachers this week; for years, it has been one of the most generous parks in baseball for HR. Aside from merely having favorable matchups and a great ballpark for the long ball this week, Reynolds has fared quite well facing LHP in his career, launching 45 HR and triple slashing .245/.373/.519 in 640 career AB against them.
Without revealing names, let’s do a quick comparison of the last three seasons:
Player A: .266, 111 HR, 341 RBI, 306 R, 6 SB, .363 OBP, .514 SLG
Player B: .228, 113 HR, 273 RBI, 261 R, 37 SB, .331 OBP, .489 SLG
and just 2011:
Player A: .248, 39 HR, 111 RBI, 90 R, 4 SB, .341 OBP, .494 SLG
Player B: .221, 37 HR, 86 RBI, 84 R, 6 SB, .323 OBP, .483 SLG
Player A is 3rd round pick Mark Teixeira. Mystery Man is … well, that should be obvious by now. But he went in the 15th round on average. As a 3B. Sure, his average was low, but so was his BABIP (.266). If he matched his career BABIP of .309, he’d have sported a slightly less bad .242 AVG. You aren’t getting him for average anyway, but there are some signs he could reach the .240 barrier. He’s making career best contact on swings at pitches in the strike zone – Pitchf/x and Statcorner have him at 6-8% higher than his previous career best, fangraphs less friendly at 1%. Contact rates tend to be reliable by 100 PA, and they suggest his K rate is likely a bit high. He’s swinging at fewer pitches than ever before, and to no surprise he has a career high walk rate of 17%. Mark’s HR/FB ratio is less than half his career average, and with him hitting half of all his batted balls in the air, a return to his 20.7% career clip would leave many paying customers happy.
What better place than Camden Yards? What better time than this week? Mini-Donkey radio, turn that shit up. Even hell may not stop him this week.