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Anthony Santander
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Homer Report

Santander Goes A-Sluggin'

by Brad Johnson
Updated On: October 5, 2022, 5:52 pm ET

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Due in part to a series with Toronto that had playoff implications, Aaron Judge recorded just one home run in 15 at-bats last week. He walked 11 times. He's in a tie with Roger Maris for the non-steroids-era home run record. Or the American League home run record. Whichever mental gymnastics you wish to perform to increase the momentousness of Judge's accomplishment. He has five games to deliver a 62nd dinger. The good news – neither the Orioles nor the Rangers have any particular reason to walk him intentionally.

Today marks the final episode of the Homer Report for the 2022 season. Moreover, this is likely the final issue of the column. Ever. I've had the pleasure of guiding us through an incredible era in home run history. Among the most memorable moments, we saw a leaguewide record shattered in 2019, the bizarre COVID campaign, Judge's historic performance, and the final flourish of Albert Pujols' storied career. Rob Manfred's administration is actively combating the surge of the Three True Outcome game. Home runs will remain a big part of the real and fantasy sport, but it does appear as if balance is returning to the force baseball.

Weekly Leaders

Anthony Santander, 6 HR
George Springer, 4 HR
5 Others, 3 HR

Santander dominated the early portion of last week, delivering three two-homer games over the span of four days. He's set career-highs in most categories including 33 home runs and 631 plate appearances. His previous highs were 20 home runs and 438 plate appearances. His success comes at a good time for his career. With a history of fringy outfield defense and fairly modest offensive output, Santander entered the season as a future non-tender candidate. Now that he's cemented himself as a league-average player, he should have a 2023 role – either in Baltimore or elsewhere via trade.

Springer was on the initial Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders list. Though he was mostly healthy this season, compiling 571 plate appearances, his 25 home runs were a modest disappointment. He still had a typical season overall, batting .263/.340/.473. He even contributed 14 stolen bases – by far the friskiest he's been since 2015.

The leftovers this week included a handful of the usual suspects: Matt Olson, Jose Altuve, Hunter Renfroe, Pete Alonso, and Marcus Semien. At one point, Semien looked toast. He's salvaged his season line in the second half with an overall performance of .253/.309/.441, 26 home runs, and 24 steals. It's just a tad shy of his wild 2021 (45 homers), but it still represents a remarkable fantasy performance. Especially with the uptick in steals.

Alonso never fully took off this season. Instead, he performed at an extremely steady pace en route to 40 taters. His rookie campaign of 53 home runs in 2019 still stands as his career best. It likely will remain so until he changes home venue. Renfroe fell afoul of a couple minor injuries which interrupted his bid for 40 home runs. He's at 28 in 504 plate appearances, a pace of 36 over a full season. Altuve, with 28 long balls, has given himself a chance to match his career-high of 31 homers, set in both 2019 and 2021. He also could post a career-best offensive season relative to league average. His 160 wRC+ matches the number he posted in 2017. Last up is Olson who recently set aside a Galloian slump just in time for the postseason. He's been particularly hot over his last five games. He wound up having a typical season in his first campaign on the east coast.

My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders

Aaron Judge, 62 HR
Kyle Schwarber, 43 HR
Pete Alonso, 42 HR
Mike Trout, 40 HR
Austin Riley, 39 HR
Yordan Alvarez, 38 HR
Christian Walker, 37 HR
Paul Goldschmidt, 36 HR
Mookie Betts, 36 HR
Shohei Ohtani, 35 HR

Just three percent of the season remains. My projection tools aren't designed to work on five-game samples so this section really isn't all that relevant. Generally, among top sluggers, everyone is expected to hit one more home run. There was no change in the names this week, though there was some minute shuffling. Alonso and Trout inched up, Alvarez fell back.

Rowdy Tellez projects for 35.20 home runs compared to a 35.23 projection for Ohtani. My tool is nowhere near this precise so we can comfortably consider that a dead heat. Santander, Corey Seager, and Anthony Rizzo have the next-best chance to crack to actual Top 10 when the dust clears. Incidentally, they're ranked 12th-to-14th at the moment.

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Injured

New

Ketel Marte, undisclosed, out for season
Luis Robert, wrist, out for season
Kerry Carpenter, back, out for season
Mickey Moniak, hand, out for season
Darin Ruf, neck, out for season

By dint of the schedule, all new injured list placements will miss the remainder of the regular season. As it happens, none of their teams are headed to the postseason.

Existing

Julio Rodriguez, back, October
Tyler O'Neill, hamstring, October
Ramón Laureano, hamstring, out for season
Trevor Story, heel, out for season

Ozzie Albies, finger, out for season
Brandon Lowe, back, out for season
Jorge Polanco, knee, October
Lourdes Gurriel, hamstring, October
Franchy Cordero, ankle, out for season
Mike Moustakas, calf, out for season
Brett Baty, thumb, out for season
Brandon Belt, knee, out for season

Jared Walsh, shoulder, out for season
Byron Buxton, hip/knee, out for season
Joey Votto, shoulder surgery, out for season

Matt Carpenter, broken foot, October
Miguel Sano, knee, October
Alex Kirilloff, wrist, out for season
Kris Bryant, foot, out for season
Adam Duvall, wrist, out for season
Mitch Garver, TJS, out for season
Jorge Soler, back, out for season

Trevor Larnach, abdominal strain, October
Jazz Chisholm, back, out for season
Austin Meadows, both Achilles, out for season
Mike Zunino, shoulder, out for season
Royce Lewis, torn ACL, out for season

The Rockies gave up on Bryant in a disappointing first season of a big contract. The Red Sox decided to shelve Story.

Larnach's rehab hit a stumbling block. He still wants to return in time for the final game. Polanco and Sano are still in play for the final series too, supposedly. Carpenter is also striving to return for the final series, though he might face a bunch of live batting practice on the back fields instead. Ditto Gurriel. Rodriguez and O'Neill should return before the final game without a rehab stint.

Returned

Ryan Jeffers, thumb
Anthony Rendon, wrist
Nick Castellanos, oblique
Willson Contreras, ankle

Rendon was activated and is currently serving a five-game suspension. He'll have a chance to play a couple games once it's complete. Contreras is putting in his last tour of duty at Wrigley while Castellanos is trying to earn his contract with big performances in the biggest games. He's hitting .417/.417/.417 in 12 plate appearances since returning, albeit with mostly very soft contact (76.9 average exit velocity).