One way to identify players who might be in store for a home run boost is to look at the previous season’s Doubles leaders. Even if your fantasy league doesn’t use Doubles as a category, it is a statistic that warrants attention, as a significant percentage of Doubles are hard-hit balls that fall just short of clearing the fence.
So let’s get to it. Here are three players, all ranking in the top-6 in Doubles in 2014, who could post an improved home run total in 2015.
Jonathan LuCroy (53 Doubles in 2014) – For some reason, LuCroy is still underrated in fantasy even though he sports a combined .297 batting average with 43 homers and 209 RBI over the past three seasons. Fresh off a year in which he led the Majors in Doubles, it would not be surprising to see him easily surpass his current single-season home run high of 18.
Michael Brantley (45 Doubles in 2014) – Brantley rewarded his fantasy owners with a career year in 2014, as he recorded personal-best numbers across the board. Is it possible that he can convert some of those 45 Doubles into additional home runs? Perhaps. But taking into account that Brantley managed only five home runs in the second half last year after leaving the yard 15 times prior to the All-Star break, I have my doubts. I’d say that he’s more likely to bat over .300 again than duplicate the 20 home runs.
Adrian Gonzalez (41 Doubles in 2014) – Although it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that Gonzalez could improve upon last season’s 27 longballs considering that he was coming off two straight seasons of fewer than 20 home runs, it’s not a stretch to suggest that he has a greater chance to match last year’s mark than fail again to reach the 20-home run plateau. Keep in mind that while a member of the Padres, Gonzalez put together four consecutive seasons of at least 30 home runs despite playing half of his games at pitcher-friendly Petco Park.