Welcome back to another post that you never thought you’d read from a guy who never thought he’d write it! We’re sailing into uncharted territory, worried we could die from some unknown disease, while maybe carrying the unknown plague ourselves that will kill everyone else. “Argh! Name that team in Cleveland the Indians and lets get these 60 games going!” Guys and five female readers, if someone beats the 73 homer record in only 60 games, they have to count it even if the person is shooting up while in the on-deck circle, right? As Long John Silver once said, don’t want to go out on a limb, but c’mon. In a shortened season of 60 games, it will be imperative that you go after categories vs. players. Sure, use the fantasy baseball trade analyzer. (I clickbaited you and you didn’t even see it coming!) Roast your leaguemates with them quick-to-the-point-to-the-point-no-faking fake baseball trades, but you need categories and stats over player names. Who can get you home runs and how fast can they do it? How do we even figure that out? Luckily, this is a rhetorical question to tell you I have you covered like a blanket infected with lice. So, with a 60-game season, what is a fantasy baseball strategy for home runs?
1. FB% and HR/FB: Kyle Schwarber, Teoscar Hernandez, Gleyber Torres (twice), Franmil Reyes, Matt Chapman (twice), Eduardo Escobar, Aristides Aquino, Willie Calhoun, Nolan Arenado (twice), Mike Yastrzemski, Ronald Acuña Jr., Matt Olson, Jorge Soler, Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge, Pete Alonso, Alex Bregman, Randal Grichuk, Eric Thames, Eugenio Suarez, Rougned Odor, and Harrison Bader just missed. Any ideas what those names have in common? No, they didn’t all try to do your mom. That was Matt Harvey. They all kinda make sense as a whole group, aside from Brett Gardner and Bader, who didn’t even qualify, but I threw him out there, because he’s super cheap and surprising. Any guesses? I’ll give you a hint, they were above certain thresholds for fly ball rate and home run per fly ball. Threshold was top 30 for fly ball rate in August or September (with guys appearing twice mentioned) with top 30 being roughly 44% (league average is 35.7, so 44% is high) and they were players above 20% HR/FB (league average is 15.3). What I’d take away from this is straight home run hitters don’t have to be expensive to acquire. Torenado, Gleyber, Tildaddy, Albombso, and Bregman are not cheap, but Teoscar, Yaz Jr. Jr., Odor and a bunch of these are barely being drafted in some leagues, and were fantasy baseball sleepers that I went over in the last two months that I called Dart Throws. If a guy hits a lot of fly balls and can get into at least 20% of them, they can help you in the home run category in a shortened season. If you’re wondering about that newfangled Launch Angle thingie-ma-boob that isn’t that new. It correlates pretty closely, as you’d imagine, with fly ball rate.
2. Home Park Factors: This is gonna blow some people’s minds, but players in good home run parks will hit more home runs. I know, SHOCKER! I attempted to isolate park factors for months, and specifically August/September, but I couldn’t figure it out. Worst fifty seconds I ever spent! I did look at the teams who hit the most homers in August/September and cross-referenced that with park factors for season, and it’s most of the usual suspects. Can’t say any of the stadiums surprised me. Wanna know top team home run parks? Cool, here ya go: Jays, Nats, Coors, O’s, White Sox, Astros, Philly and Cincy. Know why the top ten was eight? I got bored of typing. No surprises either way, but that takes me back to the 1st bullet point which was actually numbered: Teoscar Hernandez is so butter.
3. Boiling Smoke Shows: Finally, hitters who get so hot that you can’t stop them, only hope that they don’t engulf into flames because that would be bad for too many reasons to enumerate. The number one Boiling Smoke Show: a tie with Eugenio Suarez and Pete Alonso; they appeared in the top 10 for home runs in one month the most times last year. No surprise there, considering how many Albombsos they both hit last year. If a guy can hit 10+ home runs in any month, he gets a Boiling Smoke Show mention, here is entire list of guys who might surprise you (and are being drafted after the top 100): Khris Davis, Joc Pederson, Josh Bell (is he going after 100? Meh, close enough), Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson (close to top 100, but still), Yuli Gurriel, Justin Turner, Aristides Aquino, and Brett Gardner. Special shoutout to the month of August when there was more 10-or-more home run hitters than any other month.
In summation: Players who hit the ball in the air are especially good for a short season, and will succeed more times than not to hit home runs in the hot air of August and into September. Guys who hit a lot of fly balls are usually death traps for batting average, so that’s not good, but you need that loft for home runs. It will be all about loft. Loft, loft, loft. I’d want at a few guys who hit everything in the air for power, and pray the ball doesn’t come down until it’s in a
fan’s seat’s hands.
Besides the Boiling Smoke Shows (BSS), here’s a few names that stood out to me as going late and could surprise with 15+ home runs in a 60-game season: