Well, well, well. The league received a jolt of power this week. Eighteen players launched three or more big flies. All told, 243 baseballs left the yard, increasing the seasonal pace from 5,180 to 5,228. That's quite the jump this late in the season. At this point, we know this will be either the 11th- or 12th-most homertastic season in Major League history. The number to beat is 5,207.
Daulton Varsho, 6 HR
Bo Bichette, 5 HR
Mike Trout, 5 HR
Aaron Judge, 4 HR
Carlos Correa, 4 HR
Eloy Jimenez, 4 HR
Seth Brown, 4 HR
11 Others, 3 HR
We usually spend some time talking about the three-dinger crowd, but enough happened to brush them under the rug this time. Some of the more unusual names in the “others” group include T.J. Friedl, Aristides Aquino, Elvis Andrus, David Villar, Lewis Brinson, and Tyrone Taylor. Andrus is in the midst of his best season since 2017. In his 14-year career, this is just the third time he's posted an above-average batting line (106 wRC+). Assuming he doesn't blow it.
Varsho was in the Power Spotlight last season thanks to a fly ball-oriented swing path and more than enough power to supply dingers. He's tallied up 24 on the season, a quarter of which came this week. In the future, he should be considered a regular 25-30 homer threat. Especially if he spends most of his time in the outfield – as is the plan given his gold glove caliber defense.
From the start of the season through August 3, Bichette was having a miserable time – at least by his usual lofty standards. He was batting just .256/.300/.412 with 14 home runs in 454 plate appearances. He was also a brutal 7-for-14 on the basepaths. He's reportedly gotten back to having fun. His 138 most recent plate appearances include a .341/.384/.651 triple-slash and nine home runs. He had a three-homer game on Monday – those have been surprisingly rare this season. They were quite common from 2019 through 2021.
Trout joined Bichette in the five-homer crowd. He's hit one in five straight contests. As a reminder, the record is eight consecutive games with a home run which is shared by Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly, and Dale Long. Although the 30-year-old is finally showing some cracks in the foundation (and I'm not referring to his injury issues), he's having a ho-hum season by his standards – a .277/.366/.619 line good for a 174 wRC+.
With just under a month to go, Judge is only six homers shy of a tie with Roger Maris for the American League and pre-steroids era home run record. To date, he's averaged nearly 11 home runs per month. His current 203 wRC+ puts him in rarified territory. Only Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Mark McGwire, Frank Thomas, and Jeff Bagwell have had better seasons relative to the then-league average.
Correa is picking a good time to heat up. He kind of drifted through much of 2021. After the last week, his batting line is on par with his excellent 2021 campaign. That should help him to confidently opt out of his contract with the Twins after the season.
Jimenez has really struggled to take the field this season. Also, as a Sox fan, you really don't want to see him on defense anyway. When he is available, he's slugging a robust .306/.374/.502. He has 12 homers in 246 plate appearances with a third of that production happening in the last week. After Yordan Alvarez, Jimenez might be the next-best true designated hitter.
Next up is Brown who is not at all like the other big sluggers of the week. That's not to say he lacks power. He's popped 41 home runs over his last 772 plate appearances. He's the sort of perfectly acceptable, not at all star-caliber outfielder the Athletics specialize in producing. All told, he's a roughly league average player with above average power, poor on base skills, and decent defense.
My Top 10 Projected Home Run Leaders
Aaron Judge, 61 HR
Kyle Schwarber, 42 HR
Austin Riley, 40 HR
Pete Alonso, 40 HR
Paul Goldschmidt, 40 HR
Shohei Ohtani, 38 HR
Mike Trout, 38 HR
Mookie Betts, 38 HR
Christian Walker, 38 HR
Yordan Alvarez, 36 HR
Judge is finally projected to tie Maris. As we discussed above, his pace is such that he should easily shatter the record. That said, he has almost no chance to catch McGwire (70) or Bonds (73). Trout's big week propelled him back into the Top 10. He took Anthony Rizzo's spot. The Yankees first baseman did not make a plate appearance as he deals with back soreness and migraines.
Franchy Cordero, ankle, out for season
Willson Contreras, ankle, mid-September
Anthony Rizzo, head, mid-September
Nick Castellanos, oblique, mid-September
Dylan Carlson, thumb, late-September
Lourdes Gurriel, hamstring, late-September
Cordero suffered two sprains in his right ankle and will miss the remainder of the season. Contreras also has an ankle issue, but he should return sometime around next Tuesday. Rizzo's issues were noted in the previous section. The Phillies hope Castellanos won't need to miss much more than the minimum. The silver lining is they can roll with a better defense in his absence.
Carlson and Gurriel haven't hit for power this season, but they either have in the past (Gurriel) or project to do so in the future (both?). They'll need a little more than a minimum stint to recover from their respective ailments. Carlson might shift into a bench role for the postseason run, especially if Alec Burleson is thriving (presently 0-for-6 with a walk).
Patrick Wisdom, finger, early-September
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, early-September
Joey Votto, shoulder surgery, out for season
Matt Carpenter, broken foot, early-October
Miguel Sano, knee, early-October
Alex Kirilloff, wrist, out for season
Kris Bryant, foot, late-September
Adam Duvall, wrist, out for season
Ryan Jeffers, thumb, late-September
Mitch Garver, TJS, out for season
Jorge Soler, back, early-September
Trevor Larnach, abdominal strain, mid-September
Jazz Chisholm, back, mid-September
Austin Meadows, both Achilles, out for season
Ozzie Albies, foot, mid-September
Anthony Rendon, wrist, out for season
Mike Zunino, shoulder, out for season
Royce Lewis, torn ACL, out for season
Albies could return any day now. Notably, he wasn't hitting well at the time of his injury, and he's struggled in 18 rehab plate appearances. Meanwhile, Vaughn Grissom is killing it. The Braves may soon have a tough decision to make. Soler is expected to go out on rehab soon. There's been no update for Chisholm. Reading between the lines, he's probably done for the season. Larnach is also nearing rehab-stint status. Wisdom is on track to return this week.
Vinnie Pasquantino, shoulder
Ramón Laureano, oblique
Wander Franco, hamate
Yoan Moncada, hamstring
Brandon Lowe, triceps
It was a good week for returnees. Moncada and Lowe had brief trips to the shelf. On Thursday, Moncada had his best game of the season – and possibly his career. He went 5-for-6 with a double, two homers, three runs, and five RBI. Franco offers the Rays a sizable upgrade over Taylor Walls at shortstop. Laureano is playing for a trade. He's been rusty after nearly a month missed. Pasquantino doubled in his return on Friday. Prior to injury, he was on a two-week heater that included a .362/.444/.702 line, five home runs, and nearly twice as many walks as strikeouts over 54 plate appearances.