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Home Run Power and Outages

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - We're 20+ games into the season and players are approaching 100 at-bats which means we now have a significant sample size to evaluate the season to date. And there are plenty of surprises.

Jose Bautista (ADP 35), he of the "career year" in 2010 with 54 home runs, is proving it wasn't a fluke. With nine homers in 23 games, he's currently on pace to match his previous total.

Of course, my question to American League pitchers is, "Why are you still pitching to him?"

Robinson Cano (ADP 9) continues to add home run power to his resume which already includes being a lifetime .300 hitter and the "best second baseman in the game today."

Adrian Beltre (ADP 46) has forgotten that he's not supposed to hit in a "non- contract year" and is carrying the Texas Rangers offense in the absence of Josh Hamilton.

Ben Zobrist (ADP 103) is tied for third in home runs?

Zobrist had one of the best fantasy days ever on Thursday when he went 7- for-10 in a doubleheader with three doubles, two homers, a steal and 10 RBIs. He's not hitting for average, but where did all the power come from?

Yes, Ryan Braun and Albert Pujols are in the top-five in National League home runs, but in a "blast from the past" we also see Alfonso Soriano (ADP 179) and Lance Berkman (ADP 285) there too.

Soriano's nine home runs have barely been covered by the media. Did you know he's still available as a free agent in one-in-five leagues (79% owned)?

As for Berkman, I was one of many who didn't think much of St. Louis' addition of the "Big Puma." His knees were bad and he looked every bit his age (35) last year with Houston and the Yankees, but he's playing great for the Cardinals. His knees are still bad, so trading him while his value is at it's zenith is probably the optimal strategy.

Meanwhile, youngster Jason Heyward, in his second year in the big leagues has added power to his game. He hit 18 homers as a rookie, but with seven long balls in 27 games, he could double the total in 2011. In keeper leagues he should not be traded under any circumstances.

At the other end of the power spectrum, you and I have as many home runs as Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez!

As a regular in the top-three in ADP over the past few years, Ramirez is a huge disappointment so far this season, batting just .210 with three steals a four caught stealing for you "net stolen base" guys. You can't get full value for him at this point in time, therefore you might as well keep him and wait out this cold spell.

But "Han-Ram" isn't the only top-10 ADP star who forgot to show up for the start of the season.

Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez is equally disappointing. The No.1 outfielder off the board in many leagues, has not found his batting stroke, hitting just .216 with a single home run and 14 RBIs. Compared to the outfielder selected just behind him, Braun (10 HR, 23 RBI, 3 SB OPS 1.168), it sure looks like a bad choice.

Like Ramirez, you can't get full value for "Car-Go" so you should keep him until he turns it around. Hopefully you have already survived his slump and when he gets hot he'll carry your squad to a title.

Other home run hitters currently not pulling their weight include; Adrian Gonzalez (1), Nick Swisher (1), Jason Bay (1), Aramis Ramirez (1), Carlos Pena (0), Alex Rios (0), Jack Cust (0) and Aaron Hill (0).

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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