Home Run Record Shattered
Vladimir Guerrero broke a home run record on Friday. He may break a lot of records for his personal exploits during his career but this one was a league-wide effort. MLB teams combined to hit 1,135 home runs in the month of May, which broke an all-time record for the most longballs in any month of any season in baseball history. The previous record was 1,119 homers in August of 2017. Guerrero's home run in Coors Field on Friday was the 1,120th dinger of the month around baseball. 15 more homers were hit later in the evening and a total of 40 balls left the yard on the day.
Three players hit 12 home runs in the month -- Josh Bell, Alex Bregman and Derek Dietrich. Bell had 94 total bases in May, which is the first time anyone has done that since Willie Mays in 1958. Dietrich accomplished the feat in only 69 at-bats. He ranks fifth in the majors with 17 homers in just 123 at-bats this year as a part-time player.
The record for home runs in a season is 6,105 in 2017. So far this season there have been 2,279 home runs hit, which puts the league on a pace for 6,395 dongs this year. There is plenty of evidence the baseball is juiced this year but the home run binge is not a recent phenomenon and there are many reasons for it. Home runs levels have been growing for decades and were reaching record levels even before the new baseballs hit the field. Sabermetrics has shown that the best way to win a baseball game is to hit home runs, so teams are instructing their players to adjust their launch angles to improve their chances of going deep. Gone are the days of "small ball" -- putting the ball in play and spraying the ball to all fields. This is the epoch of "grip it and rip it" to the pull side. Players are bigger and stronger than ever before. Pitch velocities are up, which leads to higher exit velocities off the bat. All these factors create a perfect storm for increased power.
From a fantasy perspective there are two philosophies for dealing with the home run binge. Some owners feel like they don't have to invest so heavily in the best home run hitters because it is possible to find plenty of dingers in cheaper players later in the draft and even off the waiver wire during the season. When there are dozens of players putting up big home run numbers (48 players hit 25 or more bombs last year) why pay big prices to get sluggers like Khris Davis, who lead the majors with 48 dingers last year? Or Joey Gallo, who cracked 40 bombs but had a .206 batting average? On the other hand, if you don't invest early and often in sluggers you could find your team deeply buried in the power categories by the teams who do grab those players. As always in fantasy baseball, balancing categories to maximize point totals is key and you can't afford to fall too far behind in any category if you want to win the championship.
Storybook Season in Progress
Trevor Story bolstered his MVP-caliber stats by going 3-for-4 with two homers, seven RBI and four runs scored as the Rockies topped the Blue Jays 13-6 on Friday. He blasted a two-run bomb off Blue Jays starter Edwin Jackson, who was rocked for 10 runs in the game. Story then cracked another two-run shot off reliever Sam Gaviglio in the seventh frame. Story has 10 hits, including six for extra bases, in his last three games, and his OPS stands at .923 on the season. He is slashing .294/.362/.561 with 15 home runs and 42 RBI. He leads the major leagues with 52 runs scored. He has stolen 10 bases as well. Story is ranked number three overall on the Yahoo Fantasy Baseball player rankings, behind only Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich. Story ranks ahead of Josh Bell and teammate Nolan Arenado, both of whom have hit the ball slightly better but they don't steal bases, which leaves them looking up at the top three players. Story is just 26 years old and has already proven himself to be one of the most consistent all-around fantasy studs in the league.
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Goodrum Has Best Game of Career
Niko Goodrum hasn't proven much of anything yet in his career but he had a monster day at the dish on Friday, going 5-for-5 with two home runs, four runs scored and three RBI as the Tigers topped the Braves 8-2 in Atlanta. He slugged a solo home run off of Mike Foltynewicz in the third inning, drove in a run with a single in the fifth, and added another solo tater off Josh Tomlin in the eighth. He also doubled in the ballgame. That is a powerful day at the plate for a leadoff hitter. It was the first five-hit game of his three-year career. The great game boosted his line to .230/.316/.399 with six home runs, 17 RBI, 29 runs and four stolen bases in 50 games. He is just 17%-owned in Yahoo leagues. His track record shows a guy with some power and speed who strikes out a lot and struggles to hit for average. Given that he is widely available in most leagues he makes for a good pickup to replace an injured player in fantasy lineups
Bruce Hits Number 300
Jay Bruce connected for the 300th home run of his career on Friday against the Angels. He drilled it to straight-away center field over the head of Mike Trout in the seventh inning. Bruce is the 148th player in major league history to hit 300 home runs. He is currently tied with Hall of Famer Chuck Klein and needs one more to tie Rogers Hornsby. Bruce ranks ninth among all active players -- Albert Pujols is first with 642 and is followed by Miguel Cabrera with 467. Giancarlo Stanton is eighth with 305 taters and Bruce could catch him while he is on the injured list with multiple ailments. Bruce is only 32 years old and has a realistic shot of reaching the 400-homer plateau before he retires. Only 55 players have ever hit 400 home runs and only two of them are active.
NL Quick Hits: Joey Votto went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored Friday against the Nationals. Votto has 13 hits in his last five games and seems to be coming out of his season-long slump... Christian Walker went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer, a walk, and two runs scored in a loss to the Diamondbacks. He's homered in back-to-back games and seems to be coming out of his deep slump as well... Yu Darvish spun six innings of one-run ball against the Cardinals. His ERA improved to 5.02 on the season. He is trending in the right direction and is back to being a worthy fantasy option... Miles Mikolas was handed a no-decision despite allowing just one run in seven innings against the Cubs. He has pitched well of late after a poor early portion of the season... German Marquez moved to 6-2 by limiting the Blue Jays to two runs over seven innings... Raimel Tapia went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and four runs scored against the Blue Jays... The Diamondbacks announced that Luke Weaver was diagnosed with a a mild right flexor pronator strain and a mild right UCL sprain. He won't need Tommy John surgery but he is still going to miss a lot of time. He was the key piece of Ariona's return in the Paul Goldschmidt trade... Patrick Corbin was rocked for eight runs (six earned) over just 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Reds. He ERA climbed to 3.46 on the season... Reds catcher Curt Casali went 3-for-4 with a homer, four RBI, and two runs scored against the Nationals... Juan Soto finished 3-for-4 with a solo homer and two runs scored in a loss to the Reds... Starling Marte went 3-for-5 and scored three runs against the Brewers... Kevin Newman went 2-for-5 and drove in a pair of runs. He is slashing .341/.398/.471 in 85 at-bats... Mike Yastrzemski went 2-for-4 with his first major league homer and two runs scored against the Orioles... Chris Archer got a win against the Brewers, letting in four runs in seven innings. He owns a disappointing 5.66 ERA and 1.47 WHIP to go with his 2-5 record on the season... Jhoulys Chacin gave up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Pirates. He has a 5.74 ERA and 1.48 WHIP on the season... Mike Foltynewicz gave up five runs on seven hits over his five innings in a loss to the Tigers. He has a 6.10 ERA and 1.28 WHIP on the season... Rockies optioned LHP Kyle Freeland to Triple-A Albuquerque. He finished fourth in the Cy Young voting last year. He is 2-6 with a 7.13 ERA in 12 starts.
AL Quick Hits: Trevor Bauer surrendered six runs — two earned — over seven innings in a loss to the White Sox. He falls to 4-5 with a 3.87 ERA in 13 starts... Dylan Covey shut down the Indians with six innings of one-run ball. It was his first win of the season to go with a 4.73 ERA... Edwin Jackson was slammed for 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Rockies at Coors Field... He has a 13.22 ERA in his four starts with the Blue Jays... Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went 3-for-4 with a homer and a walk against the Rockies... Joey Gallo smoked a go-ahead grand slam in Friday’s 6-2 victory over the Royals... Adalberto Mondesi went 1-for-3 with a single, a walk, and two stolen bases Friday against the Rangers. Mondesi is now up to 20 steals on the year to lead the majors... Miguel Cabrera will undergo an MRI on his injured right knee on Saturday... Andrew Cashner walked away with the victory despite yielding six runs over five innings against the Giants... Dwight Smith Jr. slugged a grand slam against the Giants... Chris Sale struck out 10 batters while allowing four runs over six innings in a loss to the Yankees. Boston’s big-money ace now sits at 1-7 with a 4.35 ERA through 12 starts... J.A. Happ tossed five innings of one-run ball in a 4-1 victory over the Red Sox.