Homeruns are not only one of the most exciting events at a baseball game but are also one of the most exciting to take place in the fantasy realm as well. The homerun shares to multiple stat categories all in one mighty swing. Depending on the league format you are in, a long ball can produce in more than just the HR category but in the runs, RBI, total bases, batting average and slugging percentage departments as well, to name a few. Due to the multiple category influence of the homerun, the big power hitters of the game have the most influence and predicting who will hit the most each year can pay big dividends towards the total performance of your fantasy team.
The league is already about to enter its second month. Below a few of the names that litter the top of the HR list are profiled and a view is given on whether you should expect the same output, expect more, or in some cases expect the HR pace to diminish. Barring any major time lost due to injury, below are some predictions.
Carlos Pena (TB): Pena hits atop the HR list as of April 26th with 8 homeruns crushed in the month already. This should not come as a huge surprise as Pena put up a whooping 46 HRs in 2007 before slipping to 31 HRs last season. Pena's power is legitimate and though its batting average is in the .250 and below range, its power numbers can make up for it. Pena is seeing the ball well and is getting pitches to hit thanks to a lineup that also features guys with last names like Longoria, Crawford and Upton. Expect Pena to put up 40+ this season as he sees locked into his power so far, with the possibility of him hitting 50 still remaining very realistic. He will strikeout a ton and his average will be nothing to write home about, but barring a major setback plan on seeing his name among the leaders in homeruns all season long.
Adrian Gonzalez (SD): Gonzalez has hit 7 long balls through the first three weeks of the season and is flexing his power numbers. He has seen a rising trend in his power numbers the past couple seasons, hitting 30 in '07 and 36 in '08. He is off to a quick start here in '09 but Gonzalez unfortunately I do not see finishing as the HR champ in the MLB or even in just the National League. His power is very real and is far from being a fluke, and I would plan on seeing another 35-40 HR year. However, due to playing at pitcher friendly Petco Park in San Diego half of the year, Gonzalez's homerun numbers will suffer and he will continue to be overlooked as one of the game's most powerful hitters.
Albert Pujols (STL): Pujols is another National Leaguer with 7 homeruns to his name and is looking like his usual unstoppable self. Potentially the best hitter in the league and possibly one of the best hitters ever, Pujols can do just about everything at the plate and that includes its fair share of homeruns. Throughout his first 8 complete seasons in the majors, Pujols has hit no fewer than 32 homeruns in a given year. His best year was 2006, where he hit 49 homers. Pujols is typically a safe bet to accumulate he will get near or to 40 homers year in and year out. A key difference between Pujols and others is that he seems to always have an upside, and this case is no difference. Pujols is expected to hit 40ish homeruns, yet his upside is that he has the potential to hit 50 or even more.
Carlos Quentin (CHW): Profiled in some of the other articles I have written, Quentin was a homerun machine in 2008, hitting 36 before succumbing to injury which ended his season prematurely. He has set out to prove his stats in 2008 were not a fluke and has gotten off to a quick start swatting 7 past the fence through the first few weeks of the year. Quentin has mammoth homerun potential well beyond the 40+ in a year range and closer to the 50 in a year range. If his wrist is cured from the injury he sustained in '08, Quentin has the potential to win the HR crown for both his American League and for the MLB as a whole.
Others to Watch:
There are a ton of players to watch when talking about the season long homerun race. Some have started off quick (Pena – 8 HRs) and others have started off slow by their own merit (Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard, 3 HRs each).
The previously mentioned Fieller and Howard both have 50 HR potential, but I think only Howard will near that mark this season and Fielder will have to settle for a number below 40.
Others to follow inclue: Nelson Cruz of Texas, Jermaine Dye of the White Sox, Ryan Ludwick of the Cardinals, Ryan Braun of the Brewers and Adam Dunn of the Nationals to name a very select few.