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Introducing Earned Home Runs (eHR) – 2019 Outliers (Fantasy Baseball)

There are a considerable amount of expected metrics floating around in the fantasy baseball community. Many of which are extremely helpful for fantasy baseball purposes. Over the last six months or so, I’ve been dabbling with home run park factors using Baseball Savant’s Barrel metric. My goal is to refine the home run park factors to include left, center, and right field because of the intricacies of many ballparks. Using some of the research I’ve done with the home run park factors, I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring and introduce “earned home runs (eHR).” It’s an approach that looks at the number of home runs a player has earned to date or through past seasons. It is descriptive but I will evaluate this further to find out if there is any predictability to the metric. The fundamental variable I consider in my analysis is Barrels. Why? It’s simple, why make things complicated? But the real reason is the strong correlation the Barrels metric has with home runs. 




With a 0.85 r^2, there isn’t a single metric that’s better at determining home runs than Barrels.  You’ll notice several of the outliers on the chart above are discussed below. While strictly using Barrels is a great way to determine earned home runs, we need to be more accurate. I’m no statistician, but several other factors play a role in home runs throughout the year. Of course, I’ve included my Home Run Park Factors along with the following metrics: league AVG HR/BRL%, league AVG non-barreled HR%, league-average HR/FB%, individual pulled fly ball%, AVG exit velocity on pulled, straightaway, and opposite-field fly balls, and league AVG HR/FB for fly balls pulled, hit to center, and hit to the opposite field. The one variable I haven’t figured out how to incorporate yet is the weather. So, while there could be some slight improvements, I believe this gets me remarkably close to providing an accurate earned home run total for each player.

Before we dive into the hitters, the table below provides some background on the relationship between home runs and barrels year-to-year. It’s interesting to note that in 2017, the HR/BRL% was higher than it was in 2019. Additionally, a higher percentage of home runs were not barreled (non-barreled) or “lucky” home runs in 2017 compared to 2019. This seems like an indication that the ball may have been more lively in 2017. The only explanation as to why more home runs were hit this year is due to the higher fly-ball rate and hitter’s propensity to pull more balls in the air resulting in higher home run totals. For my eHR, I am strictly using 2019 HR/BRL% and my 2019 Home Run Park Factors.

Yearly Home Run per Barrel Rates

YearHRBRL%HR BRL%Non-BRL HRHR/BRL
20196776929081.70%18.30%59.59%
20185585845181.25%18.75%53.70%
20176105791579.75%20.25%61.52%
20165610795480.71%19.29%56.93%
20154909694379.69%20.31%56.34%

*HR/BRL% = HR on Barreled balls / Total Barreled Balls
**%Non-BRL HR = Percentage of home runs with quality of contact classification lower than a barrel (i.e. solid contact)

Unfortunate Power Bats

2019 Earned Home Run Under Performers

PlayerHRBRLHR/BRL%NonBRL HReHRDiff
Jose Abreu336347.62%9.09%46.5113.51
C.J. Cron255345.28%4.00%38.4413.44
Avisail Garcia204341.86%10.00%30.7610.76
Andrew Benintendi133330.30%23.08%23.4310.43
Nicholas Castellanos275339.62%22.22%37.0410.04
Dansby Swanson173743.24%5.88%25.998.99
Bryce Harper355957.63%2.86%43.738.73
Yasiel Puig244151.22%12.50%32.528.52
Anthony Rendon345648.21%20.59%42.438.43
Aaron Judge274852.08%7.41%35.148.14
Josh Donaldson376256.45%5.41%45.028.02
Mookie Betts295238.46%31.03%36.987.98
Joey Votto152850.00%6.67%22.957.95
Adalberto Mondesi92437.50%0.00%16.917.91
Yoan Moncada254454.55%4.00%32.577.57
Luke Voit213852.63%4.76%28.397.39
Shohei Ohtani183452.94%0.00%25.087.08
Howie Kendrick173351.52%0.00%24.017.01
Brandon Belt173528.57%41.18%23.936.93
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.152951.72%0.00%21.686.68

Jose Abreu (33 HR; 46.5 eHR)
Abreu had a monster season, there’s no doubt but much of his value was buoyed by a career-high 123 RBI. His 33 home runs tied the second-most of his career, but he “earned” much more. His barrel rate was three percent better than his previous career-best. He also managed career-highs in average exit velocity (AVG EV), hard hit%, maximum exit velocity, and fly ball% (per BaseballSavant). Additionally, Guaranteed Rate Field ranked seventh in my 2019 home run park factors. He’ll be 33 next year, so a skills decline may be in order but he still feels like a lock for 30-35 homers and another 100 RBI season with upside from there. 


C.J Cron (25 HR; 38.4 eHR)
Wow, this one caught me off guard a little bit. Given the crazy home run totals in 2019, a 25-homer output from Cron is going to get lost in the fray. Cron fell just short of 500 PA (499) and played in just 125 games. His home run rate projects out to 30 home runs, matching his 2018 total. However, Cron stepped his game up posting career marks in almost every power metric, similar to Abreu but again without the results to back it up. He even cut his strikeout rate by 4.5%. His 19.5% HR/FB rate was down two percent from 2018 despite a huge boost in his quality of contact. He struggled against right-handed pitching in 2019, which is my only concern with Cron going forward. He’s historically been adequate against them with a 105 wRC+ throughout his career. Cron is going to be a wide-awake sleeper in 2020 but if the balls are juiced again, he has an outside chance at 40 home runs. 

Avisail Garcia (20 HR; 30.76 eHR)
A career riddled with Inconsistent performance due to poor plate discipline and an elevated ground ball rate has kept Garcia from becoming a perennial All-Star. Make no mistake, Garcia is a beast. He hit only one more home run in 2019 compared to 2018 despite increasing his total number of barrels by 13. Interestingly enough, he decreased his AVG EV and fly-ball rate in 2019 but the properties of the ball determined that his power output was unlucky. I can’t say that Garcia is a lock to hit 25-30 home runs next year, especially if the ball is juiced. He’s a free agent, so it will be interesting to see if Tampa Bay decides to give him another look. Regardless, I’d expect similar production in 2020 at a minimum. He’s a decent late-round option.

Nick Castellanos (27 HR; 37.04 eHR)
Here’s a guy I’m going to jump all over in 2020. He’s finally out of Detroit and given his batted ball profile, almost anywhere will be a park upgrade for Nicky C. After being traded to the Cubs, his HR/FB% more than doubled to 23.2%. I won’t let the small samples cloud my judgment but let’s take a look at a spray chart including his line drives and fly balls from 2019. The top chart is overlayed on Comerica Park in Detroit, the second is Wrigley Field in Chicago. 

He’s not a lock to sign in Chicago but Wrigley is relatively neutral for power. I’m expecting a career-high in Castelaloes’ HR/FB% in 2020. I think given his quality of contact, he could post somewhere around 18-20% HR/FB rate and reach 30+ homers for the first time in his career.




Bryce Harper (35 HR; 43.73 eHR)
I’m here for the Bryce Harper discount in 2020. If Harper hit 43-44 home runs as his eHR suggests instead of 35 in 2019, are we talking about Harper as a slight disappointment? The boost in home runs would have given him more runs and RBI and likely increased his batting average to .265. His final line could have been .265-105-43-125-15. If it looks like a top-20 player and it smells like a top-20 player, it’s probably a top-20 player. My concern with Harper lies with his increasing strikeout rate which continues its climb towards 30%. If he can keep it below 25%, there’s value to be had.

Aaron Judge (27 HR; 35.14 eHR)
Amazingly, Judge earned 35 home runs despite just 447 plate appearances. He just straight mashes. I’ll take a discount on Judge in 2020, but based on early drafts, he’s not receiving it with an ADP of 24.3 based on the #2EarlyMocks. I feel that he is a safe second round pick even if the ball is changed to favor pitchers. He managed to somehow provide career-highs in hard hit% (57.1%) and AVG EV (95.9 MPH), ranking first and second, respectively in MLB with a minimum of 50 batted ball events (BBE). Health will remain my only concern with Judge. Even if he manages more than 500 PA in 2020, he has a strong chance to reach 40 home runs.

Andrew Benintendi (13 HR; 23.43 eHR)
There are a few factors to consider with Benintendi. The first being the fact that he’s a left-handed hitter playing half his games in Fenway. Left-handed pull power doesn’t favor left-handed pull power or balls hit to centerfield for that matter. Despite crushing the ball to straightaway centerfield, he only hit one home run to center all year. Here’s his spray chart on line drives, fly balls, and popups to straightaway.

Fenway has odd dimensions and extremely high walls, but he looks to have been robbed by a number of home runs, especially since some of those batted balls were hit on the road. Fenway’s HR/BRL% to centerfield for left-handed batters is just 28.2% compared to 41.2% league-wide. So while Benintendi will always struggle to hit a high volume of home runs to center, he still deserved better in 2019. The other factor is luck, which did not go his way in 2019. He set career-highs in barrel rate, hard hit%, and xwOBA. Not all of his fly balls went to die, he managed to smack 41 doubles and five triples. He sold out a little for power but didn’t reap the benefits. If he continues this approach I see a lower batting average floor, but I think Benintendi is a nice candidate to reach 20 home runs in 2020 at age-25. 

Dansby Swanson (17 HR; 25.99 eHR)
I love me some Dansby Swanson for 2020. Based on his quality of contact and power metrics, he already broke out in 2019. However, thanks to missed time with an injury and his struggles upon his return in September, he’s going to come at a sizeable discount on draft day. He’s essentially undrafted in 12-team formats with an early ADP of 268, but I do suspect that to rise closer to 225 come March. Now, Swanson crushed his pulled fly balls but only 15.6% of his fly balls were hit to left field. Additionally, his home park (SunTrust Park) suppresses home runs. These two factors lost him about three home runs in 2019, BUT that’s factored into my equation and he still underperformed by nine home runs. How? Well, he bumped his barrel rate from a meager 4.1% to 10.1% and his AVG EV jumped three MPH! He’s in the top 30% for both metrics right around guys like Mookie Betts, Mike Moustakas, Gleyber Torres, and Rhys Hoskins. Does that mean I think he’ll hit 30 home runs in 2020? Not necessarily, but it’s not out of the question. Gimme gimme! 

Yasiel Puig (24 HR; 32.52 eHR)
Puig is one of the most volatile players in the league. At times, he’s the hottest hitter in the game and at others, he’s taking on the entire Pirates team in a fight. His volatility not only applies to his performance but also his playing time. He’s had 368, 570, 444, 611 plate appearances since 2015. Would I count on 600 PA from Puig in 2020? Nope, but he did hit 24 homers and steal 19 bases in 2019. My metric shows that Puig should have hit more than 32 home runs. How would we view his season if he went 32/19? I know, I’m asking a lot of questions. Question marks seem to follow Puig wherever he goes. He only hit two home runs in 49 games with the Indians and I’m willing to chalk that up to an adjustment period. I will probably be out on Puig going into age-29 but wouldn’t be surprised if he stays healthy and smashes 30+ homers for the first time. I’ll probably only project him for 500 PA giving him another 23 – 25 HR and 15 steals for 2020.


Joey Votto (15 HR; 22.95 eHR)
As it turns out, Votto wasn’t quite as bad as his numbers indicated. Even still, he’ll be 36 years old and now has back-to-back seasons with under 20 home runs. His metrics are poor and his strikeout and walk rates are headed in opposite directions. While still posting a strong walk rate, it’s not the elite ratio we expect from prime Joey Votto. Despite his eHR showing he earned nearly 23 home runs, I’m not buying into a full power rebound in 2020. I’m OK leaving him on the wire now this he no longer provides elite batting average either.

Adalberto Mondesi (9 HR; 16.91 eHR)
If it weren’t for the shoulder injury with Mondesi, I’d be viewing him as a back-end first-rounder in 15-team formats. Keep in mind that his 16.91 eHR came on just 443 PA in 2019. As the two-hole hitter for the Royals, he’d push 650 PA in a full season. You don’t have to squint too hard to see a 20 HR/50 SB season at some point shortly with a ceiling of 25 HR/60 SB. Now, his plate discipline scares the sh&t out of me, so his range of outcomes is all over the place. With the question marks in regards to the recovery period on his shoulder injury, I’m likely to project Mondesi to miss the better part of the first month of 2020. Based on this stance, he’s a no-no in the first two rounds of 2020 for me. Additionally, the recovery could sap his power early in the season as well. Maybe he still reaches 40 steals but expecting more than 10-12 home runs may be a pipe dream. as much as I want to believe it.

Notable Unfortunate Hitters:  Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, Mookie Betts, Yoan Moncada, Luke Voit, Shohei Ohtani, Howie Kendrick, Brandon Belt, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Fortunate Power Bats

2019 Earned Home Run Over Performers

PlayerHRBRLHR/BRL%NonBRL HReHRDiff
Alex Bregman412684.62%46.34%23.86-17.14
Brett Gardner281687.50%50.00%15.50-12.50
Yuli Gurriel311984.21%48.39%18.86-12.14
Joc Pederson363585.71%16.67%28.17-7.83
Omar Narvaez221888.89%27.27%14.44-7.56
Trevor Story353669.44%28.57%27.98-7.02
Eduardo Escobar353666.67%31.43%27.99-7.01
Nolan Arenado414072.50%29.27%34.16-6.84
Eric Thames252466.67%36.00%18.88-6.12
Jeff McNeil232161.90%43.48%17.67-5.33
Tommy La Stella1614100.00%12.50%10.82-5.18
Christian Vazquez232466.67%30.43%17.94-5.06
Eugenio Suarez495580.00%10.20%44.03-4.97
Freddy Galvis232360.87%39.13%18.14-4.86
Willie Calhoun211687.50%33.33%16.15-4.84
Danny Santana283174.19%17.86%23.23-4.77
Mitch Garver313571.43%19.35%26.28-4.72
Jesse Winker161478.57%31.25%11.44-4.56

Alex Bregman (41 HR; 23.06 eHR)
Yup. Bregman earned just over 23 home runs in 2019. I’ve adjusted for his high pulled fly ball rate and his home park. His 19 non-barreled home runs were the most in MLB which is the main reason for his low “earned” home run total. This may be a skill that Bregman possesses because in 2018, 35% of his home runs were “non-barreled” and in 2017, it was 33% of his home runs failed to qualify as barrels. Even still, adjusting his non-barreled ratio to 33% nets Bregman 13-14 non-barreled homers, not 19. There’s no doubt, his elite plate skills, contact rate, and home park will inflate his home run totals, but nevertheless, he’s a regression candidate in 2020. If the ball is juiced, I’d put him around 34-35 home runs, if it isn’t he’ll be lucky to reach 30 again. For Ss and Gs, here is an image showing Bregman’s pulled home runs overlayed on SunTrust Park (Braves home park).

Brett Gardner (28 HR; 15.50 eHR)
Gardner is another heavy pull hitter (35.4% pulled fly balls) that plays with the short porch to his pull side (right field) in Yankee Stadium. Based on my formula, those factors should have added between three and four home runs to Gardner’s total. In other words, in a context neutral environment, Gardner should have only reached 12 home runs in 2019. His output seems similar to some of the crazy home run totals we have seen from fellow Yankee, Didi Gregorious in the past. I don’t think anyone is actually buying into this power spike at age-36 from Gardner, so you don’t need me to tell you that he’s a huge regression candidate.

Yuli Gurriel (31 HR; 18.86 eHR)
I don’t want to fully dismiss the power gains we saw from Gurriel in 2019 because he made tangible changes. He increased his average launch angle by three degrees which produced more line drives, fly balls, and popups. The popups certainly don’t help but he also increased his pulled fly ball rate by eight percent. This explains why his eHR settled in at 18.8 after totaled just 13 home runs in 2018. It’s interesting to note that his hard-hit rate and AVG EV in 2019 were slightly lower than in 2017 when he hit 18 home runs (and the ball was juiced). Maybe projecting 18-20 home runs for 2020 seems reasonable.

Joc Pederson (36 HR; 28.81 eHR)
While Pederson saw more than 500 plate appearances for the first time since 2015, not much else has changed. He still struggled against lefties (often sitting versus tough LHP). He did increase his barrel rate by two percent but actually hit fewer fly balls. Additionally, he had a disproportionate number of home runs compared to doubles and triples. Typically, (and this far from scientific) the ratio of home runs to doubles+triples is close to one-to-one for power hitters. Pederson had only 19 2B+3B compared to 36 homers in 2019. It’s only worth noting when the discrepancy is this large. Pederson will most likely be with a new team in 2020, but unless he goes to Colorado, Cincinnati, or New York (Yankees) I’m staying away.

Omar Narvaez (22 HR; 14.4 eHR)
An eight percent boost in fly balls combined with a juiced ball is a great way to inflate your home run totals. However, his pulled fly ball rate and home park factors are essentially neutral which makes Narvaez’s 22 home run total a little bit outrageous. His HR/FB rate went up by one percent yet his hard-hit rate on fly balls dipped by six percent. I like Narvaez as a late-round catcher for 2020 thanks to a low strikeout rate and hefty line drive rate but expecting close to 20 homers in 2020 is a mistake. 

Trevor Story (35 HR; 27.98 eHR)
I’m not going to harp on Story too much because it’s possible I’m not properly evaluating Coors Field. You’ll notice Nolan Arenado listed as a notable lucky hitter but on the flip side, David Dahl and Ian Desmond earned five to six more home runs in 2019. So maybe I’m on to something here. Story is a player I’m not worried about. As long as he can maintain a strikeout rate below 30%, the backdrop of Coors Field will allow for a safe batting average floor. His power metrics look a lot stronger than Arenado’s but due to the aforementioned elevated strikeout rate, he puts fewer balls in play resulting in similar home run totals. He’s still in the middle of his prime at age-27 and his hard-hit rate and exit velocity remain elite.




Eduardo Escobar (35 HR; 27.99 eHR)
Escobar is going to be over-drafted in 2020 drafts thanks to a career-year in 2019. He smashed 35 home runs while driving in an amazing 118 RBI! That’s incredible value around pick 200. He’s jumped all the way to 81 overall in the #2EarlyMocks. Before 2019, he had never hit more than 23 home runs or driven in more than 84 runs in a season. Additionally, his career-high batting average is .274. On a positive note, eHR still believed that Escobar earned a career-best 28 homers, but that’s more or less juiced ball aided. Even if you’re buying the fact that he is now a safe 30-100 hitter at age-31 (which I’m not), keep this in mind. Proven commodities such as Jose Abreu, Matt Olson, and Marcell Ozuna are all drafted later.

Jeff McNeil (23 HR; 17.67 eHR)
I’ve been hearing a lot about how Jeff McNeil showed power for the first time in 2018, mostly in the minors. When he finally got a full slate of playing time in the Majors in 2019, he backed his power growth with another 20-plus homer season. I’m usually a sucker for players with great hit tools who manage extremely high contact rates. McNeil is exactly the type of hitter who can develop power with more experience. Why does this blurb feel like I’m down on McNeil then? My only concern with McNeil is that he hit 14 of his 22 home runs in 2018 in just 57 Double-A games thanks to a 50% fly-ball rate. That approach is very different than the Jeff McNeil we’ve seen in the Majors who has a more balanced approach with more ground balls and line drives. Binghamton also plays a little hitter-friendly (The Mets Double-A affiliate). I’m going to have a hard time with McNeil in 2020 drafts. If the ball in de-juiced, he’s a near-empty batting average with decent contributions in runs. If the ball is juiced, I expect another 20 home runs which will help elevate his RBI total becoming a solid 3.5 category hitter. It looks like a deep dive in order this offseason. 

Notable Fortunate Hitters:  Nolan Arenado, Eric Thames, Tommy La Stella, Christian Vazquez, Eugenio Suarez, Freddy Galvis, Willie Calhoun, Danny Santana

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.





Will the Yankees Break the Single Season Home Run Record?

The all time record for home runs in a single season is 264 held by the 1997 Seattle Mariners.  Some things that come to mind as I write this:  The team was comprised of peak Ken Griffey Jr., a hulking Jay Buhner who hit 40 bombs that year, a young stud shortstop named Alex Rodriguez, and this was of course during the steroid era. In fact, prior to 2017, eleven of the top fifteen home run hitting teams played during the steroid era.  There is some debate on when the era began and ended, I’m going with 1991 through 2003 for reference.  In 2017 however, The Yankees led the way with 241 home runs good for 9th all time! The Astros and Rangers were not far behind, both jumping into the top 15.  So naturally the team with the most power in 2017 adds even more power with Giancarlo Stanton in 2018.

The knee jerk reaction to the question in the title is yes, the Yankees will demolish this single season home run record. They added the best power hitter by HR/PA in this generation coming off a 59 home run campaign, so why wouldn’t they break the record?  To get to the answer we first have to look at batting order and plate appearances.  Based on the information above it may not surprise you to know that the Yankees led the majors in plate appearances with 6,354. That comes out to over 39 PA per game, 39.22 to be exact. The average for all teams in 2017 was about 38 PA/game, so it’s really only about 200 more PA over the course of the entire season above the league average.  For reference the Cubs led the league in PA in 2016 with 6,335.  So let’s go with a slight regression for the Yankees in 2018 based off this information to 6,340.  Here’s a table showing the  number of PA by spot in the bating order using our estimated 6,340 as a team in 2018.

Order GS PA % of PA PA Using
6,340
Batting 1st 4860 22678 12.24% 776
Batting 2nd 4860 22136 11.95% 757
Batting 3rd 4860 21632 11.67% 740
Batting 4th 4860 21153 11.42% 724
Batting 5th 4860 20621 11.13% 706
Batting 6th 4860 20110 10.85% 688
Batting 7th 4860 19581 10.57% 670
Batting 8th 4860 18978 10.24% 649
Batting 9th 4860 18406 9.93% 630
Total 185295

I rounded them to the nearest PA to make the math easier. Now we have to figure out the batting order and since we know the same 9 players won’t play all 162 games, we have to adjust for that.  Since this is theoretical, let’s assume 145 games played for all starters and 135 for Gary Sanchez at catcher (but can also DH). For second base I’ve combined Torres and Torreyes not only because their last names are so similar but the position is Torreyes’ until Glayber Torres is healthy and ready to be called up.  That could be in the first few weeks, it could be mid season, I don’t know.  I don’t expect Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier to be on the team all season, in fact, I expect one to be traded before the season starts, so those 250 PA are essentially for one player.  After all is said and done the total number of plate appearance has reached 6,340.

Projected Lineup  Position Plate App.
Brett Gardner CF/LF/RF 695
Giancarlo Stanton RF/DH 678
Aaron Judge LF/DH 662
Gary Sanchez C/DH 603
Greg Bird 1B/DH 632
Didi Gregorious SS 616
Aaron Hicks CF 600
Chase Headley 3B 581
Torreyes/Torres 2B 630
Bench
Ellsbury / Frazier OF 225
Romine C 200
Dustin Fowler OF 95
Tyler Wade SS/2B/3B 120
Total 6340

Finally, let’s get to the home run projections. I’ll fly through the “low power” hitters but will go into more depth for the Yankee Bombers: Stanton, Judge, Sanchez, and I’ll throw Bird in there as well.  The Bench:  Tyler Wade and Ellsbury are speed guys with minimal power; Wade hit a career high 7 in 2017 in 450 PA and Ellsbury has settled into a 7-10 home run hitter (outside of the 2011 season).  Fowler has some developing pop but is only above average based on Eric Longenhagen’s 50 raw power grade.  Frazier has a similar 20 home run power upside but neither of them will get much playing time with the already crowded outfield.  Catcher Austin Romine has never hit more than 7 HRs in a single season.  So, without much analysis I’ve projected this bunch of players to get 640 total PA (by this estimation); which is basically a full season for one player; should only get about 15 HRs.  Working our way up Torreyes; he has almost no power to speak of and Torres while having significant power upside, will only be 21 and has a season career high of 11.  I do expect Torres to get more of the PA, so I’ll put the home run total at 14 for the #9 spot in the order.  Headley, ugh. We have a 33, soon to be 34 year old third baseman with below average power.  He’s averaged 13 home runs over the last 5 years.  I’ve got him at 13, simple.  This isn’t looking good right now.  We are at 42, only 223 to go!  Aaron Hicks is a wild card, he’s a very good player but can’t stay healthy.  Luckily for me in this experiment, he does stay healthy!  Over the course of his career, he’s averaged 1 home run for every 38 PA but had 15 HR in only 361 PA in 2017 or 1 HR every 24 PA.  He’s in his prime and playing in a good hitter’s park, I’ll have him somewhere in between and give him 21 HR.  On to Didi Gregorious.  I don’t like his projections, check out my bust post about him.  In there I have him pegged for 15 HRs, so that’s what we’ll go with.  Brett Gardner was a surprising source of power in 2017 hitting over 20 for the first time in his career (21 to be exact). He did it with a career high 13.5% HR/FB which at age 34 seems high even for a lefty playing half his games at Yankee Stadium. I say he drops back down to around 11.0% and hits 17 home runs in 2018.

This is where things get interesting.  Greg Bird is a prototypical power hitting left handed first baseman. He’ll be 25 during the 2018 season so he’s entering his prime.  He’s not Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton in terms of power but who is?  Given his 24 HR in only 348 PA in the majors, you can expect big things from Bird given a full season of at bats. His 50% FB rate combined with hard contact and Yankee Stadium provides some high hopes. Yes, he will strikeout and hit popups limiting his batting average, but all we care about in this article is home runs.  All that being said, I’ll give Bird 32 home runs in 632 PA.
Gay Sanchez has been a monster since entering the majors in August of 2016 hitting 53 home runs in 177 games! His PA/HR almost matches Aaron Judge’s: 13.8 PA/HR to 14.2 PA/HR. In this experiment I’ve projected less PA for Sanchez due to the wear and tear catchers have to deal with day in and day out.  Now Judge does hit more fly balls and hits the ball harder and a result, his HR/FB% is higher as you’d expect (33.3% to 29.3%).  These are both elite. I do expect both to drop in 2018 because it’s difficult to improve on rates that high even for the best power hitters in the game.  I expect Sanchez to be around 25% and Judge to be around 28-29%. That brings us to 35 home runs for Sanchez and 44 home runs for Judge. 

We have 206 projected home runs for the 2018 Yankees with Giancarlo Stanton to go. He needs 59 to get the Yankees to 265 for the season. Isn’t that a coincidence, he he hit 59 in 2017 and will now be playing half his games at Yankee Stadium.  Although I’ve seen articles that overlaid Yankee Stadium over all his home runs from 2017 and it would have added between 1 and 3 home runs for the entire season.  Why?  Well, because a 475 foot fly ball is a home run anywhere. In 2017 Stanton changed his approach, he changed his stance to where his front foot is extremely closed.  It helps him see the ball better and limits his leg kick creating more contact. It helped cut his strikeouts down below 25% for the first time but did lower his hard contact. That’s OK though because Stanton, along with Judge, can hit a ball at 80% and it be a home run.  I have Stanton hitting 2nd giving him 678 PA which is 14 less than he had in 2017. His 34.3% HR/FB was a career high (not a surprise) but he did have a 32.1% HR/FB% in just under half a season in 2015, so it’s not insanely high for him. His FB% was under 40% and his IFFB% was a career high, so those are bad signs but I do believe in the decrease in strikeout rate.  He cut his SwStr% by almost 3% and his O-Swing% was below 28% for the first time in his career.  Ok, enough with analysis, what’s his HR total for 2018?

I’m going with 50 HR for Stanton in 2018. The Yankees fall 9 home runs short of breaking the record and 8 short of tying it with 256 home runs in 2018.  It’s interesting because on the surface it looks like a virtual lock that the Yankees will break this record in 2018.  It’s possible that Stanton, Judge, Sanchez and Bird all stay healthy for a full season giving 150+ games each and break the record but guys like Bird and Hicks haven’t proven to be healthy for a full season and Stanton has certainly missed his share of time. Sure, the 2018 Yankees could demolish the record by hitting 280 or something like that but if I’m putting money down on it, I’d bet against it. There’s too many variables and things that need to go right for the Yankees for this to happen.  That doesn’t mean I won’t be awed by the spectacle of every 500 foot bomb hit by Judge and Stanton and enjoying the chase for 265.