In all corners of the baseball universe — including the fantasy game — the importance of a home run cannot be ignored. That holds true even with the wild fluctuation in the volume of home runs over the past few years.
Part of what makes baseball unique is directly tied to the longball. The shape and location of a ballpark obviously have an impact on how easy or difficult it is for a hitter to clear the fence. As always, we can turn to Statcast to help take a deeper dive into these numbers and draw some conclusions to be used to drive our fantasy baseball decisions.
Home Runs – Expected Home Runs: Batters
Below are two tables for Home Runs – Expected Home Runs for batters. The first table is sorted low-to-high by HR-xHR, while the second table is sorted high-to-low by HR-xHR. The columns of Doubters, Mostly Gone, No Doubters and No Doubter % represent the likelihood of a player’s home run in all ballparks across Major League Baseball. Per Statcast, the elevation of the field, wind, weather and other environmental factors have been included in the calculations. The top 25 and ties were used as a cutoff for each table below.
- For anyone who followed the storyline of the Baltimore Orioles changing their outfield dimensions, the presence of Trey Mancini atop this list should be rather obvious. The numbers speak for themselves. He only has six home runs on the year but, based on the location of some of his hits, he could have as many as 12, He does have the same amount of home runs in Baltimore as on the road — and, quite frankly, his overall production is better at home — so we might simply be looking at a function of some bad luck.
- Alex Verdugo continues to appear on these Statcast articles as essentially each of his “expected” numbers are better than his actual outputs. At one point, we have to question if this is nothing more than his trend, where Verdugo hits well enough to have decent production, but he never quite gets there. We should continue to watch him going forward, as the signs of a breakout remain intact.
- Not every number or name on the above list is created equally, as Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge have technically underperformed. We would be nitpicking if we were to complain about either player’s power output, but it is interesting that even batting in the hitter-friendly ballpark of Yankee Stadium, both Stanton and Judge could theoretically have more home runs. Not coincidentally, Judge and Stanton are in the top three on this list for “no-doubters,” where their hits would have left all 30 ballparks.
- The opposite table — batters’ HR-xHR sorted from low to high — tells a relatively obvious story where we see a large number of hitters who play their home games in Colorado, Houston, Chicago, and Cincinnati. The good news for these players is that they will obviously have more opportunities in their home ballparks. Still, someone like Brendan Rodgers has a half-dozen home runs to his name and not a single “no-doubter.” In fact, all six of his home runs were hit in Colorado.
Home Runs – Expected Home Runs: Pitchers
Below are two tables for Home Runs – Expected Home Runs allowed by pitchers. The first table is sorted high-to-low by HR-xHR, while the second table is sorted low-to-high by HR-xHR. The columns of Doubters, Mostly Gone, No Doubters and No Doubter % represent the likelihood of a player’s home run in all ballparks across Major League Baseball. Per Statcast, the elevation of the field, wind, weather and other environmental factors have been included in the calculations. The top 25 and ties were used as a cutoff for each table below.
- Similar to how we ended the hitters’ section of this article, the pitchers start off with a moderate amount of players whose home ballparks favor the batter. This directly applies to the second name in the first chart, Hunter Greene. Greene has allowed 15 home runs on the year, but 60% were questionable in other ballparks or conditions. Kyle Hendricks has given up 11 home runs, but none were “no doubters.” Perhaps these pitchers won’t undergo a major positive correction, but there is a chance that playing in less hitter-friendly ballparks will help stabilize their numbers.
- Compared to the aforementioned pitchers, Julio Urias appears to be an outlier. After all, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles is not commonly mentioned as a hitter’s ballpark. Perhaps that reputation should change. According to Statcast, it is actually the second-best ballpark for home runs over the past few years, and Urias has, indeed, allowed more home runs in Los Angeles than on the road. The bad news for Urias is that some of his divisional road games are in Colorado, so it seems like he won’t get a break from the venue. If he continues to allow too many fly balls — he is currently above his career average, although in line with his last few seasons — he may continue to suffer by the longball.
- Alex Manoah deserves some recognition for his impressive campaign so far. He is 8-1 with an outstanding 1.67 ERA and any possible regression to the mean should still allow him to continue to deliver above-average numbers. The table shown above will only help support that claim. Manoah has allowed five home runs on the year, but even that number is “too high” for what should have happened. It’s scary to think how Manoah’s numbers would look if he limited home runs as per his expectations, and all signs suggest that he could.
- Sandy Alcantara is having an exceptional season in his own right, but he appears on the opposite chart as the aforementioned Manoah. Alcantara currently sports a 1.68 ERA — 0.01 away from Manoah’s in a truly amazing parallel — but he has been somewhat fortuitous in limiting the long ball. Alcantara has given up four home runs on the year but appears to have been spared an additional two thanks to ballpark conditions. He is pitching so well that it is unlikely to see a home run barrage destroy his numbers, but it is worth paying attention to how Alcantara performs in hitter-friendly ballparks where his value might be slightly lowered.
Have something you want me to cover in this space, or do you just want to talk baseball? Feel free to reach out on Twitter @MarioMergola with questions or requests.
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Mario Mergola is a featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros and the creator and content editor of sporfolio, For more from Mario, check out his archive and follow him @MarioMergola,