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Fantasy Baseball Research: Power is getting scarcer

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Ray takes a closer look at the decline in power in baseball.

Alex Goodlett

I wrote a few days ago about the decline in offense in baseball over the last 11 years, 2004 - 2014, and today I will focus on a statistic that is also in a severe decline: home runs.

Here is a look at the number of hitters who hit 50+, 40+, 30+ and 20+ home runs each year over the last decade. The number of 40+ home run hitters include the number of 50+ home run hitters, the number of 30+ home run hitters include the number of hitters who hit 50+ and 40+ home runs. I did this so you could see how much power has dropped over the last ten seasons. It is pretty dramatic.

The decline in power, by year

Year

50+ HR

40+ HR

30+ HR

20+ HR

2005

1

9

27

78

2006

2

11

34

90

2007

2

5

26

86

2008

0

2

28

91

2009

0

5

30

87

2010

1

1

18

77

2011

0

2

24

68

2012

0

6

27

78

2013

1

1

14

70

2014

0

1

11

57

Back in 2005 and 2006, it was not uncommon to see some hitters hit 40 or more home runs, but over the last two seasons, we have seen just three: Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera in 2013, and Nelson Cruz in 2014. What is even more startling is the severe drop in 30+ home run hitters, from 27 just two seasons ago, to just 11 in 2014.

The drop in the number of power hitters makes it more difficult for fantasy owners to find that 30 home run hitter past the second round. In auction leagues, these hitters will see their auction values rise on draft day.

The 30 home run club, 2014

Here is a list of the hitters who hit 30 or more home runs in 2014.

Name

Team

HR

Nelson Cruz

Orioles

40

Giancarlo Stanton

Marlins

37

Chris Carter

Astros

37

Mike Trout

Angels

36

Jose Abreu

White Sox

36

Jose Bautista

Blue Jays

35

David Ortiz

Red Sox

35

Edwin Encarnacion

Blue Jays

34

Anthony Rizzo

Cubs

32

Victor Martinez

Tigers

32

Lucas Duda

Mets

30

Of the hitters who hit 30 or more home runs in 2014, there is a real possibility that three of them could struggle to repeat the feat in 2015. At the top of that list is Tigers DH Victor Martinez who probably had a career year in 2014 at the age of 35. He saw his HR/FB% more than double from his rate in 2013 and 2012.

Astros DH Chris Carter had a career year as well, and there is a chance he doesn't get as many at bats in 2015 with the Astros continuing their rebuild. Red Sox DH David Ortiz is one of the more consistent power hitters in the game, but he will be 39 years of age at the start of next season, and injuries could be in his future.

Some who missed

Some power hitters who just missed the 30 home run level were Adam Jones, Josh Donaldson, Todd Frazier, Justin Upton and Albert Pujols. A few hitters missed due to injury: Diamondbacks outfielder Mark Trumbo and Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Others like Orioles first baseman Chris Davis missed the 30 home run level due to suspension and being very unlucky. Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp struggled to recover from his offseason shoulder surgery, but his power surged in the second half, so he is primed to return to the 30 home run club in 2015, assuming he can stay healthy.

The up-and-comers

So, with power down across baseball, who are some hitters who could reach the 30 home run level in 2015? Here are a few with a quick thought on each:

Mark Trumbo, Diamondbacks

He is the Adam Dunn of the National League, and as stated earlier, he missed a lot of time due to injury in 2014, but he hits in a hitters haven, and should return to hitting 30 or more home runs in 2015.

Oswaldo Arcia, Twins

He has loads of power, and hit 15 home runs in 221 plate appearances in the second half this season.

Corey Dickerson/Nolan Arenado, Rockies

Both are young an hit in Coors Field, one of the best home run parks in the game.

Bryce Harper, Nationals

This wouldn't surprise anyone, as he has the power to hit 30+ home runs for many years. Is 2015 the season he breaks out?

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