The halfway point of the season seems like a good time to check in on my home run derby status. As regular readers will remember, back in the first week of April I posted my 15-man squad for the annual fantasy contest I take part in (see April 3, 2016, "Picking a Winner").
My wife's brother-in-law, Todd, runs the derby, and indicated at the outset that I had picked one of the most conservative teams, unlike in years past when I've gone with some risky picks and foregone obvious winners. Only the top three contenders finish in the money, and I knew I wasn't as geeky about analyzing my picks as some of the other guys are, but I felt confident I could finish in the Top 10. I'm thinking of my pride this year.
Three days into the season, however, one of my picks, the Cubs' Kyle Schwarber, was injured in an outfield collision. The next day, April 8, the team announced he had torn his ACL and LCL (and the heart out of my chest) and was done for the season. Great, I thought, I now have a 14-man roster. Of course, plenty of other guys in the derby also had Schwarber on their teams. I had to hope that the rest of my guys could out-perform the full rosters of those who hadn't picked the Cub outfielder/catcher, and that players on others' rosters whom I didn't have, would get injured (but not too badly, of course).
For most of the past 13 weeks I've stayed at or above the league average, ranging between 7 and 22 home runs per week. Let's break down my team:
**American League East**:
ADAM JONES -- He was on my team last year and hit 27 home runs. After a slow start this year, he's ramped it up lately, with 16 round-trippers, putting him on pace to surpass last year, if he can stay healthy.
MARK TRUMBO -- Also on my team in 2015, he hit 22 big flies last year in 142 games. He has already passed that mark, with 24, leading the American League.
**American League Central**:
MIGUEL CABRERA -- Another returning player, Cabrera tallied 18 home runs last year while missing roughly a quarter of the season. He's at that number right now, which bodes well for the rest of the season.
JUSTIN UPTON -- Yet another guy from last year's squad, he's one of my biggest disappointments so far. He hit 26 taters last year and was projected to hit that many this year, but so far has only 8.
MIGUEL SANO -- New to my team and only in his second year, Sano this week came off a long stint on the DL. His 18 home runs in 80 games last year were impressive; he was predicted to hit between 32 and 38 this year, but has only 12 so far.
**American League West**:
GEORGE SPRINGER -- He was also on my team last year, but parked only 16, as he missed 60 games. He has 19 right now, which means he's got a great chance of surpassing the predicted 26-28 home runs this year.
KYLE SEAGER -- I didn't know much about this guy, still don't, but he belted 26 homers last year. His 16 at this point means he could approach 30 this season.
**National League East**:
GIANCARLO STANTON -- So much talent here. He played in only 74 games last year, but still hit 27 dingers. He's young (26) and was projected to smash in the 40-45 range this season. If he's gonna do that, he's gotta ratchet it up, as he only has 15 right now, and is batting only .216.
NEW YORK METS:
LUCAS DUDA -- He missed 27 games last year and still hit 27 home runs. He's been on the DL for more than a month, and has 7 home runs. Predicted to hit 25-30 this year, Duda is more likely to be a 15-18 guy.
MAIKEL FRANCO -- Never heard of this guy before this year, but I liked the fact that he hit 14 round-trippers last year in limited action. He's only 23, but hit 9 homers during spring training. He's cooled off a bit lately, but has lost 15 balls this season, so he's still on target to hit the two dozen or so that experts figured.
**National League Central**:
KRIS BRYANT -- Didn't choose him last year when just about everybody else did, and he hit 26 gopher balls. He's projected to hit at least 30, and with 24 already, I'd say he's likely to push 40.
KYLE SCHWARBER -- Out for the season. He's only 23 years old, but hit 16 round trippers last year in limited action. Baseball pundits had him in the 25-27 range this year. Wait 'til next year....
JOEY VOTTO -- He's not young --- 32 years old -- but hit 29 last year. After a somewhat slow start, he's picked up the pace lately and stands at 14 HR's. Still on target for two dozen or so.
CHRIS CARTER He doesn't hit for average, but smashed 24 HR's last year. He has 20 this year, although he has slowed down of late. Likely to at least reach the 28-30 range predicted this season.
**National League West**:
LOS ANGELES DODGERS:
ADRIAN GONZALEZ -- Last, and also least, is the Cooler, so called by Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe because "Gonzalez in [2010-2012 was] part of historic folds by the Padres, Red Sox, and Dodgers." I opted against him last year because of the bad taste in my mouth after his less-than-stellar tenure with the Red Sox. He hit 28 big flies last year, though, and was projected to hit 25-28 this year, so I chose him. Production to date: 6 home runs.
So, with 13 weeks down and 13 to go, I stand in 13th place out of 45, with 214 home runs. Unlucky 13? Perhaps. Maybe the second half of the year will fall apart for me; maybe one of my guys will take part in the home run derby and then see his numbers fall off in the second half.
I'm 20 home runs out of first place. Barring major injuries to players on the 12 teams in front of me that somehow don't affect me, I won't make up that distance. But I'm confident I won't drop all the way down either, as 35 round trippers separate me from the dungeon. Not bad for a guy who finished last in 2015, and who is fighting with one player tied behind my back. Stay tuned for another update or two the rest of the way.