April stats are always blown way out of proportion. Especially home runs. Only a few players who had big power numbers last April were able to maintain their pace throughout the season. Let’s finish up the list (started yesterday) of this year’s surprising power performances and see who’s for real and who you should sell high.
Once a consistent all-star, Andruw Jones seemingly fell off the face of the baseball world. He was only two seasons removed from hitting 41 home runs and three seasons removed from 51 home runs. Never a player that was known for his work ethic, Jones packed on weight and began to fall in love with his new home run swing. That player was a far cry from the center fielder known just as much for his defense as his bat.
The Dodgers, who had just signed Jones to a two-year contract, couldn’t take another season of disappointment and released Jones. That off season Jones signed a much smaller contract to join the Texas Rangers. He spent the offseason getting in shape in hopes of resurrecting his career at age 32. That season he hit 17 home runs in 281 at-bats, good for a 16.5 AB/HR rate. However, his low AVG kept him from getting regular playing time.
That scenario seemed likely to repeat itself this season with the White Sox. However, Jones is off to a hot start and the rest of the White Sox offense is struggling. That has bought him a full time gig. If he keeps hitting home runs, he should stay a full time player, just don’t expect him to hit .290 this season. Jones has a very good career AB/HR rate of 17.6, which translates to about 31 home runs over 550 at-bats. Given his AB/HR rate last season, there is a good chance that Jones hits at least 20-25 this season with a chance for more should he continue to get everyday at-bats.
Colby Rasmus (6)
Since recommending an add of Rasmus seven days ago, all he’s done is go 9 for 17 with three home runs and two stolen bases. Rasmus continues to show greatly improved patience at the plate, even though he continues to strikeout a bit too much. Inevitably, Rasmus will see a regression in his average because of his very high .367 BABIP and strikeout rate of over 30 percent. However, he should still end up somewhere around or above .265-.270 with 20-25 home runs and double digit stolen bases. That means he’ll have fantasy value as a third or fourth outfielder, but it also means that this might be a good time to see what you can get for him in the trade market.
Ty Wigginton (6)
Interestingly enough, Wigginton had hit 20-plus home runs every season from 2006 through 2008 before seeing a big drop off in power last year. His pace so far in 2010 is surely unsustainable, but there is no reason that he can’t hit .270-.280 with 20-25 home runs if he gets the at-bats. The Orioles have been using him at second and third lately, batting him fourth and fifth. He’s not going to be a start-level player, but he has the position flexibility to be a useful fantasy option, even if that means having him on your bench to fill in when necessary.
Alex Gonzalez (5)
Gonzalez doesn’t draw many walks and swings at a lot of bad pitches, which has led to a career line of .248/.294/.399. Four of his five home runs came in a five game span April 7th through the 11th. That is a hot streak, but not indicative of his true power potential. While I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gonzalez approach 20 home runs, I’d bet against it happening. If there is still a chance to sell high on him, get the deal done, because in reality he’s an AVG killer with only limited power upside.
Dustin Pedroia (5)
Pedroia has hit five home runs in a month twice in his career before 2010 and hit six home runs once. He has never done so in April, however. That makes his early season power surge reasonable, but at the same time overblown a bit. Given Pedroia’s track record, he may have one other nice power month, but he is just as likely to have several months in which he only hits one or two homers. It was only two season’s ago when Pedroia hit 17 homers and his 15 last season came in a season where he only hit .296. Pedroia is going to have a good season, a “bounce back” if you will, but he’s not going to all of a sudden turn into a 25 home run machine.
Casey McGehee (5)
I was not a proponent of Casey McGehee last season or this pre-draft season, but the guy is doing his best to make me a believer. He brings a solid plate approach, in which he draws a decent amount of walks, displays good pitch selection and makes above average contact. Even his HR/FB rate of 19.2 percent isn’t as drastic as some of these other names. Still, McGehee has benefited in the AVG department from a lot of groundballs finding their way to the outfield. His AB/HR rate last season was 22.2, which would translate to about 25 home runs over 550 at-bats. Given his eligibility at 2B and 3B, McGehee should be a solid fantasy value all year long, even if his AVG drops below .300.
Scott Rolen (5)
At an age where players usually begin to tail off, Rolen has started the season by channeling his 2006 form. Keep in mind, however, that Rolen hasn’t stayed healthy enough to see over 500 at-bats since that 2006 season. At age 35, the chances of him keeping this pace are slim.