Fantasy Baseball Today

With homers on the wane, power hitters more valuable than ever

By Chris Towers | CBSSports.com

Giancarlo Stanton's prodigious power is more valuable than ever. (USATSI)
Giancarlo Stanton's prodigious power is more valuable than ever. (USATSI)

In early April, Chris Cwik and I took a look at a distressing trend that appeared to be sweeping the league after the first few weeks; the disappearing home run ball.

Balls were leaving the yard at a slower pace than any season in decades. Even once you accounted for the fact that power totals tend be muted by the cold weather of the season's early months, the home run-per-game total was lower on April 11 than any season in the last 10 years.

With nearly three months and more than 2,000 games behind us, it is time to take another look at league-wide home run numbers. Was this just a small-sample size blip, or is this the new normal?

YearHR/G
20140.90
20130.95
20121.01
20110.93
20100.94
20091.03
20081.00
20071.01
20061.10
20051.03
20041.12

That HR/G mark was just 0.84 when we last checked in, so at least we can see the upward trend we would expect as the weather has gotten warmer. Unfortunately, 2014 is still lagging well behind the past decade in this regard, continuing a larger trend that has been clear since the homer-happy days of the Barry Bonds era.

It was true when we said it in April, and it still is today; in today's MLB, power hitters can no longer be taken for granted. Players like Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Abreu are valuable not just for what they provide your team every week, but also for how far ahead they can put you of the competition.

With some usually dependable power hitters like Robinson Cano, Jay Bruce, David Wright and Mark Trumbo not contributing what we expected so far, there might an owner in your league scrambling to catch up in homers and RBI. If you took a chance on Abreu and Victor Martinez and have power to spare, this might be the time to fleece them.

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