Home runs bring a different type of excitement to baseball.  Fan of the team or not, when hitters like Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Alex Rodriguez, (696), Willie Mays (660), or Ken Griffey Jr. (630) came to the plate, people dropped what they were doing to watch or listen, because they knew something big could happen.  Some of the numbers above are frowned upon or listed with an asterisk because of the introduction of performance enhancing substances that likely played a part in some of the added power.  For example, one of my favorite seasons of all time growing up was the 1998 season where Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa duked it out to catch Roger Maris’s record 61-home run season.  They both caught that record and everyone wondered how many more they would hit by the end of the season.  McGwire finished with 70 and Sosa with 66.  Not long after, Barry Bonds surpassed McGwire’s record with 73 home runs in 2001.  Looking back at all of those records broken can be looked at with a grain of salt knowing that all three were involved in the steroid controversy, whether they admitted it or “didn’t understand the questions” (cough Sosa cough).  Low and behold, the home run ball is back and better than ever.  According to statistics from Baseball-Almanac, home run totals by season have steadily increased over the last century.  2017 saw the most home runs in a season with 6,105 homers.  To put that number into perspective, that record-breaking season in 1998 saw 5,064 home runs.  Will we see another uptick in the 2018 season, or was last year just a fluke?  Let’s take a look at the potential top-ten home run hitters for 2018.  Included is Razzball’s own preseason overall rankings, and FantasyPros ADP. Please feel free to follow up in the comments with your own opinions!

The 2018 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join with prizes! All the exclamation points!

Honorable Mentions: Edwin Encarnacion, Manny Machado, Miguel Sano, Kris Bryant, Gary Sanchez, Josh Donaldson, Bryce Harper

10. PHI 1B/OF Rhys Hoskins (Razzball Ranking 44/FantasyPros ADP 42.7)

Hoskins took the league by storm last year after being called-up and appearing in his first major league game August 10th.  Much like the Trevor Story (story) of 2016, he went on an impressive tear hitting 18 home runs in only 212 plate appearances.  It would be near impossible for Hoskins to sustain the type of production he experienced in his rookie season, as pitchers have more tape on him and will try and find his weak spots, which is why he is this far down the list.  He was an impressive home run hitter throughout the minors.  In 2016 for the AA Reading Fightin’ Pills, he hit 38 home runs.  To follow that up in 2017 at AAA for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, he had 29 before his late season call up to the Phillies.  A sophomore would not be surprising, but Hoskins should still hit his fair share of home runs.

9. LAA OF Mike Trout (Razzball Ranking 1/FantasyPros ADP 1.0)

Give me a top ten baseball list this guy is not on.  My favorite list that he is not on is players with the most syllables in their last name, in which case Jarrod Saltalamacchia takes the cake.  Trout has been somewhat of an enigma since joining the majors.  Year in and year out he dominates major league pitching and fills the stat sheet as a true five-tool athlete.  He has finished in the top four in MVP voting every year since his first full season in 2012 and won the award twice. Trout struggled to stay healthy last season, only playing in 114 games, compared to seasons past 159, 159, 157, and 157.  He still managed to finish the season with 33 home runs.  He is a threat to make hard contact and put the ball into the seats any time he comes up to bat, as he has proven to be one of the tougher outs since his first full season in 2012.

8. OAK OF Khris Davis (Razzball Ranking 60/FantasyPros ADP 62.3)

No I did not spell that name wrong, I am aware Chris Davis is a different guy and in seasons past would have been on this list.  Khris Davis is the one on this list.  He was a decent home run hitter for the Milwaukee Brewers at the beginning of his career, but more recently joined the Oakland Athletics in 2016.  Since joining the A’s, Davis has become one of the best home run hitters in baseball with 42 in his first season and followed up with 43 last season.  Oakland Coliseum ranks as one of the most hitter friendly parks in baseball and Khris Davis has taken advantage.  Along with a hitter friendly park, Davis is top five in MLB in barrels/plate appearance.

7. SEA DH Nelson Cruz (Razzball Ranking 38/FantasyPros ADP 54.0)

Cruz has been a bit of a late bloomer.  He made his debut in 2005 and spent most of his career with the Rangers.  It wasn’t until 2009 that the home runs started to pile up, finishing with 33 and his first all-star game appearance.  For Cruz, there has been no looking back since then.  Now 37 years old with 13 MLB seasons under his belt, he has consistently put up big home run numbers, especially in the last four seasons (40,44,43,39).  Currently on the final year of his contract with the Mariners, Cruz will look to continue to do what he does best at the plate at the back end of his career.

6. BOS OF J.D.Martinez (Razzball Ranking 15/FantasyPros ADP 25.0)

Martinez, similar to Cruz, has been somewhat of a late-bloomer when it comes to home runs.  He totaled 24 home runs in his first three seasons, but followed it up with 23 home runs for the Tigers.  Since then, he has been one of the more prominent power hitters in the majors.  Exit velocity and barrels do not always lead to home runs, but if you are barreling up as often as Martinez did last season, it’s easy to see why he finished with so many home runs.  He was second in the majors in barrels/plate appearance at 12.3, only trailing Aaron Judge.

5. TEX 1B/3B/OF Joey Gallo (Razzball Ranking 81/FantasyPros ADP 128.7)

Gallo has been a boom or bust hitter in his first three seasons.  He struggled in years one and two with strikeouts.  The Rangers finally gave him a full season of work and he was a disappointment in many offensive categories, but excelled at hitting home runs.  Out of his 94 hits on the season, 41 of them left the park.  Gallo is known for having one of the most extreme uppercut swings in the league.  In the first half of the season he led the majors with the highest launch average launch angle of 25.6 degrees.  Proof of his pure strength shows in Statcast comparisons of batted balls with a launch angle between 35 and 45 degrees.  As a group at that launch angle, MLB players batted .130 and slugged .349 compared to Gallo .294 BA, 1.059 slugging % and eight home runs.  Even more impressive was his ability to lower his average launch angle in the second half of the season to 19.3.  That lower angle led to less pop fly outs and plenty of home runs.  We will see if he can carry over the tear he was on in the second half of last season.

4. LAD 1B/OF Cody Bellinger (Razzball Ranking 17/FantasyPros ADP 24.0)

5’1’’ 87 lbs Cody Bellinger.  That’s strange, I thought he was bigger than that.  Okay, you got me, he is bigger now, but in 2007 Bellinger played for his hometown Chandler, AZ in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, at just 12 years old.  This is when people became aware of his tremendous potential. In my opinion, Bellinger might have one of the sweetest swings since Ken Griffey Jr.  Hop back in your time-machine to present day.  Bellinger is now 22 years old, and quite a bit bigger at 6’4’’ 210 lbs.  In his rookie season, he showcased his power with 39 home runs and 97 RBIs for the World Series runner-up L.A. Dodgers.  The rookie showed out in the home run derby as well, beating Charlie Blackmon in round 1 and losing by one in the semi-finals to Aaron Judge.  He can hit just about every type of pitch.  Last season Bellinger hit 14 home runs off 4-seam fastballs, 10 home runs off sliders, 4 off 2-seam fastballs, and 3 each off change-ups, curveballs, and sinkers.  The one pitch he struggled with most was the cut fastball and only had one home run when he saw a cutter.  Bellinger proved that he will put just about any pitch into the seats.

3. COL 3B Nolan Arenado (Razzball Ranking 6/FantasyPros ADP 4.3)

Coors Field, thin Colorado air, high altitude.  The Rockies are home to one of the most extreme hitter friendly parks in professional baseball.  Arenado and the Rockies have 95 games at home and really became a household name in Colorado and MLB in 2015 when he hit 42 home runs and followed up in 2016 with 41 home runs.  He was no slouch in 2017 either finishing with 37 home runs.  If you take a closer look at Arenado’s numbers, his splits at home and on the road are not as drastic as you might think.  In 2015, he actually hit more home runs on the road (22) than he did at Coors Field (20).  2016 was a bit more in favor of home (25) versus road (16).  Last season Arenado only hit one more home run at home (19) than he hit on the road (18).  He has consistently proven to be one of the best home run hitters in baseball and that his statistics may not be as inflated as some may think with the benefit of hitting at Coors.

2. NYY OF Aaron Judge (Razzball Ranking 21/FantasyPros ADP 18.3)

Spoiler alert!  Remember the opening scene of “Troy” when Boagrius, played by behemoth Nathan Jones standing at 6’11’’ 360 lb, fights a much smaller Achilles, but still loses to the superior fighter?  I picture Judge as Boagrius, who at 6’7’’ and 282 lbs is one of the great home run hitters in the majors, but not quite ready to take over as home run champion, yet.  Not that Judge won’t hit it out of any ballpark with his easy swing and natural power, but Yankee stadium, according to Baseball Monster, yields the highest percentage of hits that result in home runs of any stadium tied with Guaranteed Rate Field at 27%.  Although the stadium is slightly more friendly to left-handed power hitters with a short porch, it simply does not matter to Judge as he hits to all parts of the park.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the Yankees will once again lead the league in home runs as a team.

1. NYY OF Giancarlo Stanton (Razzball Ranking 9/FantasyPros ADP 8.7)

The man, the myth, the legend.  Achilles, I mean Mike, I mean Giancarlo Stanton is not a small man.  He is just one inch shorter and 37 lbs lighter than Judge, but built like a brick wall.  It’s hard to believe that Stanton has only led the majors in home runs twice since 2010, however many of his seasons have been derailed by injury.  Outside of the facial fracture injury that held him out of 17 games in 2014, many of his ailments were lower body issues that have forced him to miss time.  Even so, Stanton has never been held below 22 home runs in a season.  This includes the 2015 season where he was on a ridiculous pace having hit 27 home runs through just 74 games before missing the rest of the season with injury.  Finally, with the Marlins, Stanton played an entire season, showcasing what he really is (video-game stats).  He earned his first NL MVP award, 4th all-star game appearance, 2nd Silver Slugger award and led the majors in HR (59), RBI (132), and SLG (.631).  Clearing house in Miami, Derek Jeter (CEO and part owner of the Marlins) sent Stanton to the Yankees where he will team up with Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez to hit in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball.  Assuming Giancarlo can remain healthy through 2018, there is no reason to believe he won’t be right at the top again in home runs.  Yankees fans have a lot to be excited about.

   
  1. True and Correct says:
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    Drafted Turner @ #3 in a 15 teamer Draft Champions. Looked at Gray’s pairings, and with 1 pick before me, I had Bellinger/JDong all set and then when he took Cody, I followed my Bronx childhood, and took Sanchez over Martinez @#28. Took Severino 5 picks later over Carrasco/deGrom. I know Gray had JDong listed as the perfect pairing (I would have taken Bellinger and love the multi-position), but Sanchez just seems like he has a much higher ceiling that all other catchers, and hopefully the drop off from JDM won’t be as great. Wasn’t expecting both to be there @28, so I turned to mt Bronx roots.
    How dumb was i ?

    • Ricky Olshansky

      RickyBobby says:
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      @True and Correct: @True and Correct: Not dumb to pick players on one of the most high powered teams for the upcoming year. Depending on where Sanchez is placed in the lineup, he might have less RBI opportunities following Stanton or Judge, but barring injury, you won’t have to worry about streamlining catchers like other teams might be forced into.

  2. Sweatpants Nation says:
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    OZUNA!

    • Ricky Olshansky

      RickyBobby says:
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      @Sweatpants Nation: I like Ozuna. Only issue I have is his move to Busch Stadium. It has not been one of the friendlier stadiums for home run hitters in recent years. If he stays on par with his career numbers, he ends every even year with 23 home runs, granted thats only 2014 and 2016. We’ll see what’s in store for 2018, should be fun.

      • Clint says:
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        @RickyBobby:

        But you like Oakland? Do not reference outlier 2017. In 2016, ranked 28th. 2015, ranked 16th. 2014, ranked 26th. In 2012, ranked 22nd. In 2011, ranked 20th. In 2010, again ranked 20th. In 2009, ranked 19th. In 2008, ranked 26th. In 2007, ranked 29th.

        But he doesn’t like Busch. But Oakland is one of the more “Hitter friendly parks”. Incredible

        • The Harrow says:
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          @Clint: MIA is worse than STL usually. i just checked, OAK was 3rd worst for HR park factors last year. and was clearly very low all other years. i don’t know how this stuff passed by the editor seriously.

      • Crime Dog says:
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        @RickyBobby: Busch can’t be worse than Marlins park for hitters

  3. Brett says:
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    Looking for a second opinion. I have to keep 6 between Jose Abreu, Rhys, Schoop, Andrus, Bregman, Devers, Pollock, Kluber, Bumgarner, and Jansen. It’s a standard league.

    I’m not really prepared for the keeper deadline. Thankfully, I get a little more time to prepare before the draft.

    • Ricky Olshansky

      RickyBobby says:
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      @Brett: That’s a pretty solid group to choose from making this difficult. But I like Hoskins, Bumgarner, Kluber, Bregman, Abreu, Schoop.

      If you’re afraid of sophomore slump for Hoskins, Jansen would be my next choice, but I think that Philly team is ready to break out, and Hoskins could be the catalyst. Good luck! Let me know what you ultimately decide.

    • Bthe Esq. says:
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      @Brett: How many teams and what are the keeper rules moving into future years?

      I think I would lean Kluber, Hoskins, Devers, Jansen, Bregman, Abreu.

  4. Mike says:
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    No Olson?

    • Bud Budsworth says:
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      @Mike: agree, if you have Hoskins you should have Olson

      • Snizzleworth says:
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        @Bud Budsworth: Except Hoskins has the minor league track record for swatting them out… Olson really doesn’t.

    • Ricky Olshansky

      RickyBobby says:
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      @Mike: Mary-Kate or Ashley? I always felt like Mary-Kate was the better of the twins on Full House. Jokes aside, I do agree with you, he probably deserves at worst an honorable mention. In the minors, he had two great seasons in single-A with 23 homers in 2013 and 37 in 2014. As he worked his way through the system, the home runs dropped a little until his final, partial Minor League season before being called up for a second time. We’ll see if he can maintain those numbers in his second season, along with Hoskins.

      • Mike says:
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        @RickyBobby: ya I was mainly just looking at his ab/hr… which was actually better than Hoskins, JD, Stanton…… small sample size but #10 was Morrison at 13.5.

      • CrazyJ says:
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        @RickyBobby:

        You’re WRONG, it’s Ashley!

        Too funny, thanks for the write-up.

        • Ricky Olshansky

          RickyBobby says:
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          @CrazyJ: No problem!

  5. OldNavy says:
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    Smoak is not on any ranked list in our RCL fantasy leagues.

    Thanks

  6. Clint says:
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    Oakland Coliseum is one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the league? Do tell.

    Welp, never reading one of your articles again. Where do they find these guys?

    • The Eye of Horus says:
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      @Clint: Yeah, it’s well known that Oakland is a pitcher-friendly park. Even if you are talking about HRs only, it isn’t notably hitter-friendly either.

    • Slappy Jack says:
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      @Clint: @Clint: Don’t be such a tool.

    • Bterry says:
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      @Clint: google. It’s a hell of a drug… 5th in park factors last year. And don’t reference anything but 2017…..

    • Ricky Olshansky

      RickyBobby says:
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      @Clint: Thanks for finding my contradiction. All feedback is good feedback.

      You’re right Oakland is not one of the best hitters parks, however last season, it was pretty kind to righties. Park factors aren’t a perfect science, or an exact indication of how each season will play out. Davis along with other players like Matt Olson, also in Oakland, or Stanton in Miami, proved that ball parks won’t hold them back from hitting home runs.

  7. hi says:
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    “Oakland Coliseum ranks as one of the most hitter friendly parks in baseball and Khris Davis has taken advantage.”

    Did I read that right? It could be the weed talking but pretty sure Oakland is a pitcher’s park.

    • Ricky Olshansky

      RickyBobby says:
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      @hi: You did, but check back to my comments to @Clint. Righties faired well last season, but generally speaking (grinds greens, packs bowl, lighter on) I was wrong, Oakland is not so nice regarding the long ball. Thanks for the feedback.

    • The Harrow says:
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      @hi: whew at least everybody else showed up on this stuff.

  8. Paul says:
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    Keeper question; 12 team H2H league 260 budget.

    Keep 3:

    Yu Darvish 19
    Carlos Carrasco 25
    Jose Berrios 7
    Yasiel Puig 6
    Kris Bryant 35
    Jake Lamb 13
    Khris Davis 17
    Jonathan Schoop 16

    • Ricky Olshansky

      RickyBobby says:
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      @Paul: Bryant, Schoop, and Carrasco are my favorites to keep. I really like Darvish, but liked him better for fantasy in the AL. Maddon likes to use his bullpen and could cut his innings short, while also trying to keep him fresh for a potential playoff push. Bryant and Schoop cover so many stat categories, and would be nice pieces to core offensively. Good luck, let me know what you decide!

      • Paul says:
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        @RickyBobby:

        Thanks man!! I’m leaning Bryant for sure who is just a beast and a stud at only 7% of my budget.

        As for the other two I’m stuck. I view Carrasco and Darvish similar but for 5 dollars less I might lean Yu. On the flip side the prices of Berrios and Puig are too good for me to pass up. I think I might go Bryant, Carrasco or Darvish and then one of Puig or Berrios. Lamb is a nice offensive output as well but I can’t trust him after two years of such bad lefty splits and seasonal splits.

        • Ricky Olshansky

          RickyBobby says:
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          @Paul: What are the categories? I agree Darvish and Carrasco are similar. Carrasco’s K numbers are great, and his bullpen behind him is stellar, if he leaves the game with a lead, Miller and Allen will shut down more teams than not to secure W’s. Darvish with a new team, in a new league, with an unpredictable bullpen scares me. However the strikeouts will be there, and the Cubs should improve this year compared to last to help with W’s. Looking at Grey’s ratings, Carrasco and Darvish are basically a wash, and he seems to be a trustworthy fella. I like Puig over Berrios for those prices. He seems to be back into his rookie form, and you should be able to find similar pitchers to Berrios in the draft.

    • BtheEsq. says:
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      @RickyBobby: I would go Mad Bum, Kluber, Hoskins, Devers, Jansen, Abreu. @Paul: Go Bryant, Carrasco and Berrios. Great offensive center piece, then Carrasco and Berrios leave you good money left, and elite levels of Ks.

  9. Cassity Jones says:
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    You should be banned from ever blogging again for leaving Harper off this list – especially with this being a contract year.

    You must have voted for Hillary…

    • Ricky Olshansky

      RickyBobby says:
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      @Cassity Jones: I wrote in David Ross.

      I agree Harper, and a long list of others could definitely be on the list. Taking a look at Grey’s projections, four guys are expected to hit 40 hrs, three with 36, six with 35. Harper is one of the premier hitters in baseball, but he’s only hit over 30 hrs once in his six seasons which in my mind is why I didn’t add him in my top 10. I put him in as an honorable mention because it would not surprise me if he got hot, and someone like Khris Davis or Gallo goes cold and falls off this year. It is difficult to try and limit the list to ten, when there’s probably 50 hitters that could finish next season in the top-10.

  10. asdfasdf says:
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    Hi there, I’d love some keeper advice please!

    2 keepers, NL-only, H2H-points. Here are my options, listed with the round that I lose in this year’s draft, and their points from LAST YEAR to give you a sense of our league scoring system

    Round 3–Jacob DeGrom (640 points)
    Round 4–Daniel Murphy (530 points)
    Round 5–Edwin Encarnacion (595 points)
    Round 10–Eric Thames (470 points)
    Round 10–Tommy Pham (520 points in just 444 AB)
    Round 10–Carlos Santana (530 points)
    Round 10–Kyle Schwarber (380 points)
    Round 10–Jon Gray (335 points in 110 IP)
    Round 10–Corey Knebel (660 points)
    Round 10–Jameson Taillon

    It feels bad keeping a closer, but Knebel was the 5th most valuable pitcher in the whole league last year under our points system, and at a cost of round 10 I lean towards keeping him. Do you agree? And then I am not at all sure what to do for my second one. Many thanks in advance

    • Ricky Olshansky

      RickyBobby says:
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      @asdfasdf: NL only league, I like the idea of keeping Knebel, on a Brewers team that could be better than they were last year, especially if you only lose a 10th round pick. As for the other spot I like Pham. I have no problem keeping DeGrom or Murphy, but that early you could find solid replacements. Pham really broke out last year, and I think has just scratched the surface of what he’s capable of, which scares me as a Cubs fan. Best of luck, let me know what direction you decide to go.

      • asdfasdf says:
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        @RickyBobby: Okay thanks so much man! I agree I lean towards keeping one of the round 10 guys rather than DeGrom or Murphy since I could maybe just draft them again around those spots. Pham just scares me a bit because of the eye issues, but he was huge for me last year. I feel like Santana is the safest option, but Pham has higher reward. Also I think Grey doesn’t really like Pham if I’m not mistaken haha. Anyway thanks so much for the advice, I’ll probably go Knebel/Pham or Knebel/Santana.

        • Ricky Olshansky

          RickyBobby says:
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          @asdfasdf: If you can plug Santana into your catcher spot, that might not be a bad move. I, too would be afraid to have Stevie Wonder on my team. Depending on when you need to get your keepers in by, maybe wait to see how some of the preseason goes regarding Pham’s vision.

    • BtheEsq. says:
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      @asdfasdf: How many teams in the league? If its 12 or more in an NL only, DeGrom is not getting to you in the 3rd, so if you want him you are going to have to spend a 2nd round on him.

      Go DeGrom and Knebel.

  11. The Harrow says:
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    is this stuff serious? OAK was the 4th worst WORST for HR’s last year, and is near that like all of the last 5 years at least i’m pretty sure.

    • The Harrow says:
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      @The Harrow: i’m sorry it’s THIRD worst.

      • The Harrow says:
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        @The Harrow: 5th worst over last 3 years, and nothing changed in that park to think anything is different. the 3rd worst last year number came from a fantasy pros recent post about 2017. i’m quite sure prospectus’ numbers over the last few decades bears this out as well.

        • Ricky Olshansky

          RickyBobby says:
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          @The Harrow: You are correct that Oakland is not known as a hitters park, you got me there. However, park factors are only a small piece of the puzzle. If Khris Davis played elsewhere, his home run totals may have been higher, but a lot of it is speculation. His home/road split last season was 26/17. Miami is not a hitters park either, however that never slowed Stanton

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