by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
So much for power being down, as eight players hit at least 40 HR in 2016 and 38 slugging at least 30. Let’s take a look at the players who led the way and determine if they have a good chance of sitting atop the rankings once again in 2017 and beyond:
1. Mark Trumbo – Baltimore Orioles – 47
We’ve long known that the power was there, it was just a matter of it fully presenting itself. While the easy answer would be that it was the comfy confines of Baltimore that led to the breakout, that’s not entirely the case:
Instead it was a career high 24.6% HR/FB, something that was consistent all year long (his worst month was 19.4%). Of course playing in the AL East also brought some friendly road games, with 3 HR apiece coming in Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. A free agent this offseason, it will be interesting to see where he lands. If he stays in Baltimore, he’s a good bet to reach 40+ HR once again.
2. Nelson Cruz – Seattle Mariners – 43
This marked his third straight season of 40+ HR (second straight as a member of the Mariners). Over the past two seasons he’s posted HR/FB of 30.3% and 26.2%, and while you would think he’d start to slow down at his age (now 36-years old) it’s impossible to expect given what he’s been doing.
3t. Brian Dozier – Minnesota Twins – 42
While he was viewed as a powerful second baseman coming into the season, could anyone have really anticipated this type of second half explosion:
He had 5 HR over the first two months, but finished with 23 over the final two months. That said, there are definite warning signs that he may have started to become far too homer happy like his 32.3% strikeout rate in September or 49.1% fly ball rate in the second half. He was never a great average hitter (.246 for his career), but there is risk that things get even worse. It’ll definitely be something worth exploring in the coming weeks as one of two things could happen:
3t. Edwin Encarnacion – Toronto Blue Jays – 42
He’s hit at least 34 HR in each of the past five seasons, with 2016 marking his second of 40+. A free agent, where he plays certainly doesn’t appear to be an issue:
Having developed into one of the premier power hitters in the league, there’s every reason to think that it’s going to continue for another season.
3t. Khris Davis – Oakland A’s – 42
We all knew there was power, but you would’ve thought moving from Milwaukee to Oakland would’ve suppressed it. Instead he flourished, and it’s not like he was swinging for the fences to get there (40.2% fly ball rate). He’s simply one of the premier power hitters in the league, as long as he can stay on the field. The owner of a career 22.3% HR/FB, he’s posted marks of 24.5% and 26.6% over the past two seasons. If healthy he has a good chance to be back among the league leaders, and could potentially take the home run crown.
Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports