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Power hitters are notoriously streaky. Many will pile up a ton of home runs in a short stretch and struggle to drive the ball throughout the rest of the season. Take Jay Bruce who has 18 home runs. Of those home runs, 17 came in a 41 game stretch between May 8 and June 22. He’s played 91 games this year which means he hit just one home run in the other combined 50 games.
Bruce is just one example and with so many players on pace for around 40 home runs it’s important to take a look at which ones have sustainable power that will keep them hitting in the second half and which ones are just hoping another hot streak comes along. Let’s take a look at this season’s 40 home run candidates and which ones have a realistic shot at touching that number. Obviously Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis are going to hit above 40, so we’ll just look at the others.
Adam Dunn (24): Dunn hit 41 home runs last season, his first healthy season on the White Sox. He hit 38 in each of his two seasons with the Nats between 2009-2010, in a considerably harder park to hit home runs in. He only needs 16 more so even if he hits a cold spell he would only need to hit eight less homers than he did in the first half. SJN’s AccuScore Projections have Dunn hitting 14 the rest of the way which would put him very close at 38 home runs.
Fearless Prediction: 41
Carlos Gonzalez (24): My biggest worry with CarGo is that he always gets dinged up and has missed a combined month of play in each of his last two seasons. My other concern is that his home run percentage is far higher than anything we’ve seen from him. In his first full season in hitter-friendly Coors Field, CarGo had a 4.1 HR%. In his last healthy season in 2010, he had a 5.4% and a 4.8% and 3.8% in the two subsequent injury slowed seasons. This season he has a 6.5 HR% which is higher than what Miguel Cabrera had last season en route to a Triple Crown. I don’t feel that’s a sustainable number for anyone short of Miggy this season. SJN’s AccuScore Projections have him hitting 12 homers the rest of the way and that sounds about right.
Fearless Prediction: 37
Edwin Encarnacion (23): If you had asked me last season if Encarnacion could hit over 40 I’d have laughed at you. Coming into last season, he had never hit more than 26. Then in 2012, he went all Jose Bautista on the league and finished at 42 HR. Unlike a lot of the other guys on this list, his HR% is actually lower this season than it was last season (6.0% this year, 6.5% last year). That makes me think that not only is he likely to hit another 17 home runs, he may actually have some in the tank for an even bigger second half. SJN’s AccuScore Projections have him hitting 16 HR the rest of the way, I think that’s pretty close.
Fearless Prediction: 43
Domonic Brown (23): Brown has a lot going this year but for the purposes of this list he has a lot working against him. For one, he’s never played more than 56 games in a Major League season and has never played more than 114 games in minor league season. It’s hard to expect him to sustain over his very first 162 game season. He also meets the criteria for extremely streaky. Of his home runs, 17 came over a 38 game stretch between April 27 and June 8. That means he hit just six over the other 54 games. He can’t be relied on to put up sustainable power production which makes me doubt his ability to even come close to 40. SJN’s AccuScore Projections have him hitting 11 the rest of the way and that sounds about right.
Fearless Prediction: 34
Pedro Alvarez (23): Alvarez is another guy who has fluctuating months. In April, he hit four home runs. In June, he hit 10. Over his career, June and July have always been his best months. In four seasons, he has hit 34 home runs in the months of June and July while hitting 39 over the other four months. While he’s still developing, there’s no way he sustains his June-boosted 7.2 HR% and I don’t think he surpasses last season’s 30 home runs over 149 games by much. SJN’s AccuScore Projections have him hitting 13 HR the rest of the way and I think that’s close.
Fearless Prediction: 35
Raul Ibanez (22): How many guys top out at 34 home runs in their peak and then suddenly hit 40 when they’re 41? How many guys have a 2.5 HR%, 3.5 HR%, and 4.5 HR% in their last three seasons and suddenly have a 7.8%? Either way, in April he hit just two homers, in June he hit 10. It’s hot and a lot of guys are heating up right now but there is zero chance Raul Ibanez puts up another 18 home runs the rest of the way. SJN’s AccuScore Projections have him hitting 13-14 the rest of the way but I think even that’s generous.
Fearless Prediction: 32
Nelson Cruz (22): He will likely be suspended after the All-Star break for his connection to the Biogenesis case so this is pretty much moot. But, let’s say a miracle happens and he stays, then what. Throughout his career, Nelson Cruz has always been a first half guy. Over his career, 89 of his homers have come in the first half compared to a combined 63 in the second half. At the same time, that wasn’t the case last season but he only hit 11 in the first half and 13 in the second half so it’s hard to equate 24 home runs with 40. His 5.9 HR% is right around what we’ve seen from him in 2008 (5.3%), 2009 (6.4%), and 2011 (5.7%) so it seems fairly sustainable. Too bad we won’t get a chance to find out.
Fearless Prediction: 37*
Robinson Cano (21): Last season, Cano hit 33 home runs and I thought that was a lot for him. He’s on a torrid pace this season but he definitely slowed down in June when he hit just three homers. Last season, Cano hit 22 home runs in the first half, compared to 13 in the second. SJN’s AccuScore Projections have him at 13-14 the rest of the way and that sounds right on the money.
Fearless Prediction: 34
Paul Goldschmidt (21): It’s hard to predict what Goldy will do since he’s still young and hit just 20 homers over his first full season in 2012. He’s already surpassed that total through 91 games. The most he ever hit in the minors was 35 over 138 games. Still, his 5.3 HR% isn’t that crazy and he’s improved every other part of his game as well – BA (.313 this year, .286 last year) and OPS (.957 this year, .850 last year). I’m not sure he will hit 40 but if anyone has a chance to hit 19 the rest of the way it might be him. At the same time, SJN’s AccuScore Projections have him hitting just 12 home runs the rest of the way but that’s based on past production and I don’t think that accounts for the huge growth we’ve seen from him in just his second full year in the league.
Fearless Prediction: 37
Jose Bautista (20): No one on this lest knows more about hitting 40+ home runs than Jose Bautista. He hit a league best 43 in 2011 and an ungodly 54 in 2010. Although he was injured for a couple months last year and “only” hit 27 HR, his HR% remained steady at 6.8% (6.6% in 2011). This year he only has a 5.3 HR% which makes me think he has a lot more pop left in the tank. In 2010, he hit 24 home runs in the first 88 games and then stepped his game up to a new level, hitting 30 HR over 73 games. He would have to double his production in less than half a season but if anyone can do it it’s Joey Bats. SJN’s AccuScore Projections have him hitting 18-19 the rest of the way, which sounds right.
Fearless Prediction: 39
Adrian Beltre (20): The only time Beltre has hit more than 40 home runs was in 2004 for the Dodgers. At the same time, the 34-year-old hit his second highest season total last year with 36 and his current 5.2 HR% is lower than his 5.5% last year and 6.1% the year before. Beltre also has second half power. In 2011, he hit 19 home runs over the first 92 games of the season. He got hurt in the second half but still put up 13 homers over just 32 games. Last year, he hit just 15 home runs over his first 82 games and went on to hit 21 over his next 74 games.
Fearless Prediction: 38
Mark Trumbo (20): Trumbo has really solidified himself as a true power hitter but, unlike Beltre, he’s a first half power hitter. In 2011, he hit 17 home runs in the first half and just 12 in the second. In 2012, he hit 22 home runs in the first half and just 10 in the second. He would have to raise his current 5.2 HR% significantly to double his current production and I don’t think he has it in him. SJN’s AccuScore Projections have him hitting 14 home runs the rest of the way which seems fair, give or take a couple.
Fearless Prediction: 34 HR
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