In the fifth installment of my Hitting the Target series, I take a look at the Home Runs category. After the offensive explosion of last season, this is a particular category of interest across the industry. Overall, we are not exactly sure what to expect in terms of home runs as it is heavily dictated by what the league does with the ball. For me, I will be operating and drafting as if the ball will be similar to the playoffs. This still requires a significant amount of power in drafts and helps to avoid certain unexplained power breakouts. While I still want to pay for power I will be doing it more intelligently.
Once again the values to look for come from the generous help of co-author of The Process, Tanner Bell, who provided us with the average values for each category for both the 15-team Main Event leagues and the 12-team Online Championship hosted by NFBC.
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Hitting the Target: Home Runs
In the 12-team leagues last season, 26.8 home runs were needed per hitter up from 22 the season before. In 15 team leagues, 26.9 homers were needed per guy up from just over 21 in 2018. As you can see, home runs were up significantly and the data suggests it. I think it is reasonable to expect that number to come back down to around the 2018 benchmarks. However, for this analysis, I will be working off the 2019 data. Steamer projects 77 hitters to eclipse the 26 home run mark and only 10 hitters in that group have an NFBC ADP of over 200 since December 1st.
Andrew McCutchen (201.03 ADP) projects to hit leadoff for a powerful Phillies offense and was having a solid 2018 season before getting hurt. He projects for decent power in a small ballpark and should be a great buy for 2020.
Joc Pederson (205.73 ADP) has the stigma of being a platoon bat but he had over 500 PAs last season. He will lead off for the Dodgers when he plays and provides a ton of power that is hard to find this late in drafts.
Rougned Odor (229.12 ADP) is a polarizing player. He has 30 home run power but pairs that with a .200 average. He also has double-digit steal potential and if you can afford the average drag is a bargain at his current price.
Justin Upton (234.38 ADP) is coming off a lost season due to injuries but he has been one of the most consistent hitters for fantasy purposes over the last decade. The Angels lineup is improved and he should hit in the middle of it. I love him at this price.
Hunter Renfroe (254.79 ADP) was a guy who I liked earlier in the offseason compared to now. The Rays have far too many players to play everyone regularly and as a result, I have a hard time projecting playing time. I’ll be passing on Renfroe this year.
When the Tigers signed C.J. Cron (262.12 ADP) it presented a fantastic buying opportunity. He should get full playing time and he has enough power to be a viable CI option in 2020.
Renato Nunez (278.88 ADP) does not provide much outside of power but he should play every day and in a small park like Camden Yards he is a solid option for a CI or bench spot.
Randal Grichuk (290.09 ADP) is a prime example of a player who has significantly more fantasy than real-life value. Yet what he does best is hit for power and if given a full complement of at-bats he should be able to eclipse 30 homers. While he is a drag on average, he is a solid complement to a lower power average helper.
There are two players, Kyle Seager and Jonathan Schoop, who are going outside of the top 300 draft picks projected for 26 home runs. Both are pretty similar players and have fairly unimpeded paths to playing time. Both have had previous seasons with above-average contributions but in the end, are below average in the category now. If I had to choose I would take Schoop over Seager.
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