The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by MLB.com lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and national editor Matthew Leach. To hear the rest of their discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.
Leach: We return again to 2017's surprising sluggers, and a couple of these guys we've talked about a few times, but you frame this in an interesting way. Logan Morrison, Mike Moustakas, Justin Smoak, Jay Bruce. All on pace for 40ish or more home runs. From here to the end, who do you like for home runs?
And my answer is actually the guy with the fewest home runs on that list, Jay Bruce. My reasoning is he's the one guy who's done this before. He's hit 32, 34, 30, and 33. He hit 33 last year. So, if you're asking me who I trust the most, essentially who maintains the most of what he's doing for the rest of the year, I'm going with Bruce pretty easily, even with as much as he ebbs and flows. He is an extremely streaky guy. He can look awful and he can carry an offense, but I still won't be surprised if any of the other guys tail off some because even though this is a very home run-friendly environment, the season of 2017, none of these guys have done it before at this level, and Bruce has. Do you like one of the other guys more?
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Zinkie: I like Smoak more, you wrote a good article about Smoak and his overall improvements at the plate, not just his power improvements. I have obviously watched Smoak a lot, so I'm a pretty big believer in him at this point, and I'm a pretty big believer in Logan Morrison. I think he can keep this up. I was actually going to take Bruce to hit the fewest, but it wasn't really contradictory to any of the points you mentioned.
My one thought on Bruce is it's pretty well-documented that the Mets need to move either him or Curtis Granderson between now and the Trade Deadline. Assuming they get that done, I think his opportunities ... we'll just see where he ends up. He should end up in a full-time role even if it's with another team, but I wonder if the acquisition cost would be so low on someone like Bruce or Granderson because they're pending free agents, that maybe he does end up on a team that doesn't have a huge role for him, and he has some days off, and that throws him off his pace. Plus, home park and everything else, comfort level, he really tailed off when he joined the Mets last season. It took him a while to get comfortable there. So that was a bit of a deterrent for me.
But what I wanted to mention with these hitters is that they're really interesting because if you strongly believe one of them can keep up their 40-home run pace, you can probably still buy them at a reasonable price because they aren't big names, yet. And if you own one of them and don't believe he's going to keep up his pace, you can probably sell them for a reasonable price or help in another spot, so they're really interesting values right now.
Leach: Tell you about a player, hitting .306 with a .390 on-base. If you pro-rate out his stats to 162 games: 30 home runs, 32 steals, 115 runs and 95 RBIs. That's a guy you'd be interested in, real interested in. That's also a 29-year-old player who has spent, before this year, 136 games in the big leagues: Tommy Pham. Pham to me has long been one of the most interesting guys because I covered him the day he was drafted. He was a fairly late pick, and the Cardinals were super excited about when they drafted him out of a high school in Las Vegas. They thought they had hit a total steal in the 16th round. So, he's a guy I've been following for a long time.
He's a really interesting player who at various times has done some very exciting stuff in the Minor Leagues, so I don't think the question is can he keep this up, because I think the answer to that is pretty clearly, no, that's not going to happen. But, it's a fair question of how much of it can he sustain. He has stolen bases in the Minors before, he has hit for some power in the Minors before. He is a guy who at various times, rarely showing all at once, but at various times shows a lot of different skills. So, which of those are you buying, because that affects in what formats and what rosters you're adding him.
Zinkie: I'm not buy the batting average, his BABIP is really high. I think the batting average comes down, maybe he's more like a .260, maybe a .270-type hitter, but I am buying the power-speed combo. I think also on a Cardinals team that's really been looking for answers on offense, he's already done enough to cement himself in a regular role. He can probably ride a bad week and stay in the lineup every day.
Now I'm going to say something that's totally non-statistical analysis, but I feel like these things happen with the Cardinals, maybe you can answer that better than me. The Cardinals and the Orioles are two of the teams where I find that hitters sometimes, they don't come out of nowhere, but these hitters get hot and then stick with these teams. We saw Aledmys Diaz last year. Absolutely no buzz around him, then he goes out there and has a really great year, and is a huge fantasy value pick. I feel like Pham should be owned in every league and he's still available in a lot of them.