In Roto leagues, home runs might be the most fun category to chase. After all, there are so many powerful hitters in today’s game, raising the bar for home runs to a very high level. After all, just take a look at the league-wide home run rate.
Home Runs Per Season (2010-2021)
- 2010: 4613
- 2011: 4552
- 2012: 4934
- 2013: 4661
- 2014: 4186
- 2015: 4909
- 2016: 5610
- 2017: 6105
- 2018: 5585
- 2019: 6776
- 2021: 5944
We may never reach the peak of 2019 again, which came with a more-favorable baseball when it comes to hitting home runs. That being said, it is clear this past decade embarked the rise of the home run; baseball continues to be more and more of a three-true outcomes game.
With that, we need to adjust how we draft. With how many home runs you’re going to need, you’ll want to have options up and down your roster when it comes to hitting for power. When one of your sluggers goes down to injury or struggles, it is imperative you have a backup plan in place.
That is the focus of today’s article; we will be looking at cheap sources of home-run power. The following four players are all very easy to obtain in drafts, yet have plenty of potential when it comes to hitting for a lot of power. If you’re looking for home runs late in drafts, these four players definitely need to be on your team!
Cheap Sources of Home Runs for 2022 Fantasy Baseball
Draft data via NFC.com drafts since 12/1
1B Rowdy Tellez, Milwaukee Brewers
NFBC ADP: 344.21
It’s time to get ROWDY here!
Last season, our own David Mendelson tagged Rowdy Tellez as a cheap source of power, but it unfortunately did not come to fruition. The 26-year-old hit just 11 home runs in 325 plate appearances and posted a career-low .172 isolated power (ISO). That being said, I am still optimistic heading into 2022.
Based on the underlying numbers, there isn’t much to suggest that Tellez deserved to hit for less power in 2021. His 11.6% barrel rate was right on par with his career average, while he actually hit the ball harder than ever (92.2 average EV). Yet, his home run/fly ball rate fell to 12.4%, where it had been over 20% in every other season. That speaks to poor luck, which should certainly get back in order in a favorable ballpark in Milwaukee in 2022.
Another fun aspect about Tellez is that he isn’t someone who is going to sell out for power. In fact, he’s made strong gains when it comes to contact quantity:
Considering that 2018 was just 73 plate appearances and 2020 was the shortened season, we should really be focusing on the shift from 2019 to 2021. That being said, whatever adjustment he made in 2020 carried over to 2021, and gives him a more complete profile. A .250 batting average is right around what the projections have for him, and his new contact skills are just what we need when it comes to keeping him in the lineup.
Plus, we might be looking at a universal designated hitter, which would further boost his playing time. At the very least, he appears to be on the strong side of a first-base platoon, and that should give him more than enough playing time to do damage. Remember, this is a player who had posted a .239 ISO with 33 home runs in 609 plate appearances prior to 2021. Tellez isn’t a one-dimensional slugger, but that’s what makes him stand out and be more valuable from a fantasy perspective. If you are in need of power and a steady offensive performer, feel free to get rowdy.
OF Joc Pederson, Free Agent
NFBC ADP: 430.32
Similar to Tellez, Joc Pederson didn’t quite have the season he was hoping to have from a power perspective; he hit 18 home runs in 481 plate appearances between the Cubs and Braves. That being said, I’d expect a bounce-back from the lefty slugger in 2022.
Interestingly, Pederson’s .184 ISO was the lowest of his eight-year career, as was his 13.7% home-run/fly-ball rate. Plus, as you can see, his season was doomed right away from a putrid start:
From June 1st on, Pederson posted a .205 ISO, as well as an 11% barrel. It’s not as though his 10.1% barrel for the season was out of line from his previous norms at all, so for his batted-ball luck to go down as it did was likely not warranted.
Ideally, we’d see Pederson start to pull the ball more, based on how often he hits the ball in the air. His 34.4% pull rate was a career-low, and could help explain why his home-run/fly ball rate decreased despite the steady barrel rate. Regardless, we know who he is at this point in his career. ATC projections have him slotted for a .212 ISO and 22 home runs on 475 plate appearances, but it’s possible he can beat that playing time estimate if he lands in the right situation. A lot is left to be settled in free agency, but as a player with recent success, you could do a lot worse in your search for power after pick #400.
2B/3B Rougned Odor, Baltimore Orioles
NFBC ADP: 424.63
Remember when Rougned Odor was an internet sensation for punching Jose Bautista in retaliation for a slide he deemed to be dirty? Well, to be fair, Odor was a lot more than that early in his career. Between 2016 and 2019, he hit over 30 home runs three times, while he was worth 2.4 fWAR or more in three of his four seasons.
Things haven’t gone as planned since. Odor has been worth just 0.7 fWAR over the past three seasons combined, while he has posted a 77 wRC+ with a sub .200 batting average and .274 on-base percentage in that span. Meanwhile, he was traded from the Rangers to the Yankees for a very cheap price, even though Texas ate the rest of his contract. In other words, things haven’t gone as planned for Odor.
However, maybe 2022 can be different, and that’s thanks to Odor’s new home- he signed a one-year contract with the Orioles. With them, he should get plenty of playing time, as opposed to when he was with the contending Yankees, allowing him to have an opportunity to accumulate home run production.
Furthermore, the ballpark is a perfect fit. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the the fourth-most friendly ballpark for home runs, according to Baseball Savant, and Odor is the ideal player to take advantage of that. Left field may be getting moved back, but it’s still fairly easy to hit the ball out to right field, as Cedric Mullins demonstrated last year. Well, when you take a look at Odor’s sprays, that’s quite significant:
Odor, as evidenced by his 30.9% fly-ball rate and 30.9% under rate, hits the ball in the air often. Meanwhile, as his 51.6% pull rate would suggest, those fly balls are going to right field. Add in potential line-drive regression – his 16.1% line-drive rate was lower than his career 21.4% rate – and there is the potential for 30-home run power here if he gets enough plate appearances. If you’re confident in the playing time being there, which there should be with little competitions, then he might be the most value for pure home runs that there is. Of course, though, you always have to take in that batting average.
3B Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants
NFBC ADP: 394.68
Based on ATC projections, Evan Longoria is projected to hit just 17 home runs. So, why is he on this list? Simply put, I believe projections may be doing him a disservice.
Prior to the 2020 season, the Giants hired Gabe Kapler as their manager. Right away, Kapler brought in a deep, innovative coaching staff to assist in player development; they were determined to get the most of all their players, not just their younger ones. That meant a chance for veterans like Longoria to have a chance at a mini career-renaissance, which appears to have taken place:
How did this happen? It’s unclear, but pitch selection has certainly helped; he lowered his chase rate to 18.6% last year. Meanwhile, he simply hit the ball as hard as ever. In 2021, 0% of his batted balls were classified as weak contact, while his 94.1 average exit velocity ranked at the top of the league.
If it wasn’t for a freak collision with Brandon Crawford at the beginning of June, Longoria would have had an even better season. Prior to the injury, Longoria had a 140 wRC+, .236 ISO, and a 15.1% barrel rate. Once coming back, he wasn’t the same, but now he gets the offseason to get back to full health. The projections may overlook the 36-year-old, but don’t follow suit. There’s a reason he’s a third-base sleeper heading into the 2022 season!
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