By Fred Zinkie
Special to Yahoo Sports
Home runs are flying out of ballparks at record rates, which means that the few players who are not accumulating long balls are generally lagging in fantasy value. But there are a few non-sluggers who have posted the necessary advanced stats to deserve a much better fate in the homer department.
Here are 10 men who should enjoy some measure of a power uptick down the stretch.
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Tigers
With just five homers across 327 at-bats, Cabrera has been a complete flop in the power department. But his 43.0 percent hard-contact rate is excellent, and he also owns a respectable 31.3 percent fly ball rate. His 6.3 percent HR/FB rate is roughly one-third his career mark and less than half of his rate from a year ago. Although Miggy is no longer a star slugger, he should own a double-digit homer total.
Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B, Indians
Beyond being a massive disappointment, Ramirez has also been among the unluckiest hitters in baseball this year. He currently owns career-best marks in hard contact rate (39.2%) and fly ball rate (47.3%), and his low homer total (13) comes from an 8.2% HR/FB rate that is less than half of his rates across 2017-18. Moreover, Ramirez hasn’t fared much better on balls that remain in the yard (.250 BABIP). His luck has started to reverse in recent weeks, and the buy-low window is closing fast.
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox
Hitting .275 with nine homers and nine steals, Benintendi has been a massive disappointment this year. And while his skills are trending in the wrong direction overall, the outfielder still deserves better than a single-digit home run total based on his lofty 45.3% fly ball rate and respectable 34.2% hard-contact rate. Benintendi should soon see his 7.1% HR/FB rate trend to a more acceptable mark, but that shift may not be enough to get him back into shallow-league lineups.
Joey Votto, 1B, Reds
All good things indeed come to an end, including the absurd skill set of Joey Votto. The slugger’s legendary plate coverage (career 0.90 BB:K ratio) has been reduced to mortal status, but his batted-ball data still profiles as someone who should post a solid homer total. After all, Votto owns a solid 38.5% hard contact rate along with a 25.2% line drive rate and a 39.2% fly ball rate. His 8.3% HR/FB rate is a career-low mark that is less than half of his lifetime rate.
Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals
Wong’s 7.5% HR/FB rate doesn’t seem unusual, as it is nearly identical to his career mark. But a closer look shows that the infielder should be enjoying better luck, as he has made a massive jump in hard-contact rate (35.0%). His 40.2% fly ball rate also dwarfs his career norms. Wong has tallied 14 steals this year and would be on a 20-20 pace if not for poor power fortune.
Jorge Polanco, SS, Twins
Polanco is already trending in the right direction but could be even better. The 26 year old has made massive jumps in fly ball rate (46.2%) and hard contact rate (40.9%) but remains stuck with a single-digit HR/FB rate (9.4%) that doesn’t accurately reflect a potent power hitter. Those who are enjoying Polanco’s low-20’s pace in round-trippers should know that there are potentially even better things to come.
Mookie Betts, OF, Red Sox
Betts is truly spectacular, as even one of his nondescript seasons still has him on pace to be a major fantasy stud. That being said, gamers are surely disappointed that their first-round pick is not going to match his 2018 marks in homers, steals or batting average. But Betts deserves much better luck in the long ball department, as his 42.4% hard contact rate, 21.6% line drive rate and 45.0% fly ball rate should produce a HR/FB rate that is much higher than 11.5%. Betts remains poised for a memorable stretch run from his perch atop a potent Red Sox lineup.
Matt Carpenter 1B/2B/3B, Cardinals
Although no one should have expected a repeat of his memorable 2018 season, Carpenter has been one of this year’s biggest disappointments. And while his plate discipline and batted-ball data have trended in the wrong direction, he hasn’t fallen off to a degree that would warrant an 8.3% drop in his HR/FB rate. The veteran is still logging strong marks in hard contact rate (42.8%), line drive rate (24.5%) and fly ball rate (45.6%). My advice: Buy low.
Ozzie Albies, 2B, Braves
Albies is on pace to match last year’s homer total (24), and his year-over-year HR/FB rate is virtually identical. So, what’s the problem? Well, the youngster has boosted his hard contact rate by nearly 10% this season, and that whopping jump is not reflected in his power totals. Gamers shouldn’t be surprised to see Albies take another step forward down the stretch.
Justin Turner, 3B, Dodgers
Although Turner owns an acceptable 13.3% HR/FB rate, that number is woefully low once we take a deeper look. The veteran has logged a 50.2% hard-contact rate, which ranks fourth among qualified hitters. Nearly every hitter with a similar hard contact rate has a HR/FB rate that is nearly double that of Turner, and no one else with a hard-contact rate of at least 45% has a HR/FB rate below 15%.