There are some players with impressive home run totals over the first two months of the 2012 season. However, who can we expect to come reasonably close to maintaining there early season pace and who should we be looking to sell high on? Let’s take a look at the Top 10 HR/FB (through Monday) and determine who to hold and who to sell:
1. Josh Hamilton – Texas Rangers – 39.2%
Hamilton is having a remarkable season and, while it is nearly impossible for him to maintain this type of power, unless you get an absolute bounty for him who is even going to consider selling? He’s proven that, when healthy, he’s one of the elite players in the game. That is always the caveat, and I wouldn’t blame someone for getting rid of him at his peak value, especially if you can get a package including a player like Matt Kemp or Ryan Braun. However, I wouldn’t be using the HR/FB as an excuse to move him.
2. Adam Dunn – Chicago White Sox – 32.7%
I spoke about Dunn recently (click here to view) and concluded that all of the numbers scream at us to sell him as soon as possible. He has name value, so other owners are going to see his 16 HR and conclude that he’s back to his old form. However, you couple the HR/FB with an inflated strikeout rate, even for Dunn (35.8%), and you get the potential for a fall in power and an abysmal average (as it is he is hitting .241). It makes sense to get value for him while you can.
3. Curtis Granderson – New York Yankees – 31.3%
Yes, the HR/FB is inflated, but there is reason to think that he is going to be able to maintain his power even once it regresses. After hitting 41 HR a year ago, he has 15 this season courtesy of a 36.9% fly ball rate. Over his career he has posted a 44.0% mark and was at 48.0% last season. Assuming that number increases, even when his HR/FB falls he should still hit plenty of long balls. There’s no reason to sell here.
4. Bryan LaHair – Chicago Cubs – 30.3%
An inflated HR/FB is really just the tip of the iceberg for LaHair. If this number wasn’t enough to cause you to run for the fences, he’s also posting an unrealistic .405 BABIP and is striking out a ton (29.3%). So you have a player who is likely going to see both his power and average plummet, while there is a more talented player waiting in the wings to replace him (Anthony Rizzo). Does this sound like a player you want to hold onto?
5. Carlos Beltran – St. Louis Cardinals – 28.8%
Over the course of his career he’s posted a 15.8% HR/FB and his career best is 21.1%. He’s been around long enough that we know he’s not going to be able to maintain this type of mark. With name value, it certainly makes sense to shop him around and see what you can get for him. If you end up “stuck” with him, I wouldn’t be too upset, but if you can get a good return I would take advantage.
6. Dayan Viciedo – Chicago White Sox – 26.3%
We’ve long heard about Viciedo’s power potential and he has really poured it on as of late. Is it impossible for him to maintain this type of number of a full season (though he’s at 30.4% in May)? No, though I also wouldn’t consider it likely. Unless he improves on his 31.1% fly ball rate, I would suspect his power is going to regress as the season progresses. I definitely could see trying to sell high while you can.
7. Mike Napoli – Texas Rangers – 25.7%
Considering he was at 25.4% in 2011, there’s nothing to consider unrealistic about this number. The concern with him is his 33.1% strikeout rate, though seeing him struggle in the average department was always a risk. With a .241 average, though, he’s not really a sell high candidate.
8. David Freese – St. Louis Cardinals – 25.0%
At least this season he has his fly ball rate up, as he’s posted a 33.1% mark after being at 23.1% a year ago. That at least gives you a little bit more hope that he can consistently hit for power, though the 25.0% HR/FB is probably a little bit inflated. However, it may not be a huge inflation and, when healthy, Freese offers value at a position that has been hit hard by injuries in 2012. I also don’t think you would truly be able to sell that high on him, so don’t go too crazy.
9. Adam Jones – Baltimore Orioles – 24.1%
Is he the breakout performer of 2012? He entered play yesterday hitting .307 with 14 HR, 31 RBI, 35 R and 8 SB (and promptly hit two more HR). The numbers also aren’t completely unbelievable, including his .315 BABIP and 35.6% fly ball rate. Obviously, if I was blown away I’d be selling, but there is little that makes me think he is going to completely fall off a cliff. Sure, he may not hit 40 HR, but he’s going to be valuable regardless.
10. Hunter Pence – Philadelphia Phillies – 23.9%
We all know what Pence is at this point, so the numbers are basically irrelevant. His value isn’t going to change, so proceed as you normally would.