Players to Target for Home Runs (2020 Fantasy Baseball)
The 2019 baseball season will forever be known as the year of the long ball – there were a total of 6,776 home runs across the entire MLB, a whopping 671 more than the previous high. An astonishing 53 batters hit at least 30 home runs last season, more than doubling up the 26 batters that crested the 30 home run threshold in 2018. 30 is the new 20 – fantasy owners hungry for power need to target batters with 30+ home run upside.
Let’s discuss a few players who should be in store for a powerful 2020.
Yordan Alvarez (OF/DH – HOU): Overall ADP 41
He will not come cheap in drafts, but Alvarez is going to hit a lot of home runs this season. He whacked 27 long balls in just 87 games last season, which projects to a pace of 50 home runs over a full 162 games. Alvarez’s Statcast batted ball metrics last season were elite – 10.3% rate of barrels per plate appearance (eighth among all hitters), 17.2% rate of barrels per batted ball event (sixth), 49% rate of hard-hit balls with an exit velocity faster than 95 MPH (14th), and a 92.2 MPH average exit velocity (13th). 30 home runs will be a breeze for Alvarez and 40 should be well within his realistic outcomes. I can’t even rule out 50 long balls – Alvarez is only 22 years old and has limitless upside.
Miguel Sano (1B/3B – MIN): Overall ADP 130
Despite setting a new career-high with 34 home runs last season, Sano has not been garnering much buzz this offseason – his Expert Consensus Ranking is just 164th. Do people realize that Sano hit those 34 home runs in just 105 games played? Injuries have been a major issue for Sano throughout his career, but he is healthy right now and will no longer be playing at the hot corner (the Twins signed Josh Donaldson to play third base). Sano should have an easier time staying healthy playing first base and DH.
No player in the entire league hit a higher percentage of balls greater than 95 MPH last season – Sano’s 57.2% hard-hit rate was tops in all of baseball. His 21.2% rate of barrels per batted ball event also was best in all of MLB. If Sano can stay healthy this year, the home runs will be plentiful.
Franmil Reyes (OF – CLE): Overall ADP 150
Reyes will come relatively cheap on draft day for a player that hit 37 home runs last season – his Expert Consensus Ranking is just 141st. Reyes hits the ball hard – his 93.3 MPH average exit velocity ranks fourth among all hitters (trailing only Aaron Judge, Miguel Sano, and Nelson Cruz). Reyes had a bit of adjustment period after a midseason trade from the Padres to the Indians as he only hit 10 home runs in 51 games with Cleveland, a far cry from the 27 that he hit in 99 games with San Diego. A full offseason to acclimate in Cleveland can only help his 2020 outlook. Reyes has light-tower power and will be the full-time DH in Cleveland – 40 homers is well within reach.
Khris Davis (DH – OAK): Overall ADP 168
Krush may have had a season to forget in 2019, but fantasy owners should not forget the prodigious power that he demonstrated in the three years prior when Davis smacked 48, 43, and 42 home runs, respectively. You can get Davis extremely cheap on draft day (167th Expert Consensus Ranking), which is a major tumble from the top-50 ranking that Davis had last offseason. Davis was hampered by fluke injuries all last season but should be fully healthy in 2020.
Additionally, Davis had extremely poor fly ball luck last season. Check out his home run to fly ball rates over the last five seasons:
- 2015 – 24.5%
- 2016 – 26.6%
- 2017 – 26.9%
- 2018 – 24.1%
- 2019 – 18.3%
I expect a few more Krush fly balls to leave the ballpark this season and when that rate positively regresses, he should be back to hitting home runs like the real Krush Davis.
Jarad Evans is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jarad, follow him on Twitter @jarad_evans.