Home runs are everywhere in 2020. With the way power production has spread across the league the past couple years, you can count on all but a handful of players to contribute them in some measure.
So I had to make some rules for myself in limiting this list to only 10 names. To qualify, a hitter had to offer either considerable home run upside, like the capacity for 35 or more in a full-length season, or considerable value, meaning virtually no cost in a standard size league.
I could, for instance, call J.D. Davis and Luke Voit home run sleepers, but it's more their all-around potential that appeals to me than their home run ceiling specifically. And there are some noteworthy boppers being drafted 100 picks later — some even more than that.
We analyzed Khris Davis and other later-round home-run guys Tuesday on the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast. Subscribe to the podcast here.
I also excluded players like Hunter Renfroe and Rougned Odor, believing they're too much of a drag on everything else to make the home run investment worth it, especially with home runs being so prevalent.
Please note that only hitters with an ADP of 160 or later, according to FantasyPros, were considered.
Kyle Tucker RF
HOU Houston • #30 • Age: 26
There's a lingering playing-time question, sure, but the prospect fatigue for Kyle Tucker is so high that it's like everyone has forgotten just how good he could be -- at everything, not just hitting home runs. It's like he's being punished for moving so quickly up the minor-league ladder that the talent-rich Astros couldn't find a spot for him. But now, he's coming off a year in which he hit 38 homers in 146 games between the majors and minors and has off and on demonstrated the ability to elevate the ball like an elite power bat.
Khris Davis DH
OAK Oakland • #11 • Age: 35
Khris Davis' case is more about bouncing back to a previous standard, but what a standard it was, with him delivering three straight seasons of 40-plus homers. In fact, he was such a good home run hitter that he was getting drafted in the first five rounds last year based solely on that one talent. He hit 10 of last year's 23 homers in his first 17 games, too, which has led many to suggest that last year's decline was the result of a hip injury suffered soon afterward. It's not an open-and-shut case, given his age, but the ADP makes him low-risk.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #24 • Age: 28
The price tag here is just nutty to me. Finally getting a chance last year, Willie Calhoun showed himself to be Mike Moustakas, basically, elevating the ball at a rate that almost guarantees he'll be a good source of home runs while also making enough contact that it doesn't totally sink his batting average. He was on a 42-homer pace last year, but a 35-homer pace would still be a bargain here and is highly bankable, judging from the batted-ball profile.
Justin Upton DH
SEA Seattle • #8 • Age: 35
Sort of like with Khris Davis, the case for Justin Upton is less about what happened last year than what happened the several years leading up to it. Upton has been a steady Fantasy contributor for over a decade now and averaged 32 home runs in the three years prior to 2019, when he was plagued by turf toe early and patellar tendinitis late. Again, it's not a risk-free investment, but at just 32 years old, he shouldn't be done yet.
Mark Canha LF
NYM N.Y. Mets • #19 • Age: 34
I could find other hitters in this same range who profile for bigger power than Mark Canha does, but the discount is too good to pass up and the power good enough to make it worthwhile. His 162-game pace last year was 33 homers, after all, and from the time he inherited an everyday role -- basically June 26 on -- he was Kris Bryant, up to and including the elite on-base skills. Yeah, don't be surprised when Canha also shows up in my sleepers for the run category.
CIN Cincinnati • #44 • Age: 28
We're about to the point where the cost for these sleeper sluggers is next to nothing, so it should go without saying that some additional risk is attached. But the potential payoff is big enough to make waves even in a power-saturated environment, and that certainly goes for Aristides Aquino, who has a newfound path to playing time with the DH coming to the NL. The 26-year-old hit 47 homers between the majors and minors last year, selling out for power with extreme pull and fly-ball tendencies. He won't help much in batting average, but he will run a little.
Ian Happ LF
CHC Chi. Cubs • #8 • Age: 28
If you'll remember, folks were also excited about Ian Happ's power potential a couple years ago, when he was coming off a rookie season in which he homered 24 times in just 364 at-bats. But the strikeout rate was too excessive for him to make good on it, which is why it's notable he had a modest 25 percent strikeout rate (comparable to Max Muncy) upon returning from the minors late last July. And you can see his home run rate hasn't slowed at all.
Sam Hilliard LF
ATL Atlanta • #14 • Age: 29
Sam Hilliard had 42 homers and 24 steals between the majors and minors last year, which basically sums up the sleeper argument right there. Given that he was a September call-up last year (late August, technically), he wouldn't have gotten the seven home runs he did if the Rockies weren't committed to using him, at least against right-handers, down the stretch. And now it'll be even easier with the DH in the NL. Of course, Hilliard may not stick if the strikeouts pile up the way they did in the minors, but the BABIP-inflating Coors Field environment should help counteract the effect.
Austin Riley 3B
ATL Atlanta • #27 • Age: 25
Austin Riley was the talk of Fantasy Baseball when he homered nine times in his first 18 games after getting called up last May, so it's amazing he's a total afterthought now, even while pushing for a spot in the Braves opening day lineup. Let's not forget he's a 23-year-old with a top prospect pedigree and has acknowledged he became preoccupied with the slider during his time in the majors, making him late on fastballs. He has an elite power profile -- the kind that earned him a 70 grade from Baseball America a year ago -- so it's not unthinkable he could end up leading the Braves in home runs.
STL St. Louis • #27 • Age: 27
Tyler O'Neill has been pushing for a spot in the Cardinals lineup for so long that it's easy to forget he's only 24. It's just that the power came so naturally to him at such a young age. The most stunning display came in 2018, when he homered 26 times in just 64 games for Triple-A Memphis, back before the juiced ball was introduced to that environment. He elevates well and puts a forceful swing on the ball, so there won't be any more excuses to hold him back with the DH coming to the NL.