Towers of power: Fantasy's surprise home-run threats

By R.J. White |

Brian Dozier has been one of this season's most surprising mashers. (USATSI)
Brian Dozier has been one of this season's most surprising mashers. (USATSI)

Ten major-leaguers take the stage at Target Field Monday for the 2014 Home Run Derby. A few of the participants are having surprisingly excellent seasons in the power department, providing a better-than-expected boost to Fantasy lineups in the first half of the season. Let's look at a few guys who have hit like they've been auditioning for the Home Run Derby this season and take a few guesses at whether the party will continue.

2B Brian Dozier, Twins

Dozier was able to collect 18 home runs in his first full season last year, and he's stepped it up a notch this season, matching those 18 homers in the first half alone and earning an invite to the home-field Home Run Derby. The second baseman never flashed this level of power in the minor leagues, and while this season's 14.6 percent homer-to-flyball ratio is a little high, it's not outlandishly so. One thing working against him is his average home-run distance of 378.8 feet, which is the third-lowest mark among all players with at least 10 home runs. With increased stolen-base production as well, he's a darkhorse 30/30 candidate if he can keep clearing the fence on his flyballs.

3B Todd Frazier, Reds

Including this year, Frazier has hit 19 home runs on the nose in three straight seasons. The difference this year is while he hit a home run once every 22.2 at-bats in 2012 and once every 27.9 at-bats in 2013, he's knocking balls out of the park this season at a rate of one every 19.1 at-bats, leading to his first opportunity to participate in both the All-Star game and the Home Run derby. While he'll have a difficult time keeping up his pace in the second half, especially if he can't bring his flyball rate back up, he's turned into a five-tool fantasy player, hitting .290 with 14 stolen bases while racking up 110 runs and RBI combined. He's a fine buy-high candidate.

OF Marlon Byrd, Phillies

Byrd turned in a career-high 16.4 percent homer-per-flyball ratio while jacking up his flyball percentage last year, and he's been able to maintain that ratio this season while seeing another increase in his flyball percentage. His 18 home runs put him on track to blast through his career high of 24 (set last season). Byrd is a prime trade candidate this month thanks in part to his surprising power numbers over the last year and a half, and his final destination could have a pronounced affect on whether he can continue to hit bombs at this elevated rate.

OF Michael Brantley, Indians

Brantley owners have become accustomed to good batting averages and stolen-base numbers over the last two years as he's developed into a good-but-not-great fantasy option. That's changed this season, as his batting average has jumped to elite levels while Brantley has smacked 15 home runs, easily passing last year's full-season-best of 10 home runs. While the other guys on this list may have seen a small uptick in homer-per-flyball rate, the Cleveland outfielder is a much more extreme case, posting a 17.6 percent mark after never delivering a ratio above seven percent. He's a clear regression candidate and a great player to try and sell high during the break.

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