Fantasy Sports R Us
But there’s no real sense in being a pessimist about 2015, is there ? Especially when proven sluggers like Fielder, Votto, Wieters, Harper, Tulo and Cargo will be back this Spring, once again hale and hearty. Budding young bashers like Rendon , Springer, Pederson, Myers and Singleton will also be on hand, striving to make their cases as well. No wonder this ol’ crystal ball is glowing a very rosey red mulling the possibility of a significantly expanded 2015, 25+ HR power grid that could go something like this…

1.   Giancarlo Stanton        46   Giancarlo will be charging about $500,000 per long distance call.
2.   Jose Abreu                   42   Turns out those Cuban pinball arcade performance numbers
                                                    weren’t that wacky after all.
3.   Mike Trout                    40   Nothing fishy about this five-tool superstar.

4.   Edwin Encarnacion     36   Steady as she goes… and God bless the Rogers Centre.
5.   Anthony Rizzo             36   Added maturity and better line-up have arrows pointed upwards.
6.   Chris Carter                 34   Godzilla lives ! It’s just the average that’s dead.
7.   Miguel Cabrera            34   If he’s truly healthy again, watch out !
8.   Paul Goldschmidt       33   D-Backs thrilled to have to have their big guy back !
9.   Jose Bautista              33   If he can stay healthy, that is.
10. George Springer         33   Shudder to think how good he can be with a full season in
11.  Chris Davis                  32   Honestly, have no idea where to slot this guy.
12.  Nelson Cruz                 32   Cruz control figures to be turned down at least a bit in 2015…
                                                     maybe more if he lands in Seattle.
13.  Justin Upton                31   Still surprisingly young with maturing power.
14.  Evan Gattis                  31   Regular OF gig gives him lots more ABs. Surprise !
15.  Adam Jones                30   The absolute gold standard for consistency.
16.  Jay Bruce                    30   Plagued by nagging injuries in ‘14. Bounceback candidate.
17.  Devin Meseraco         30   Regular playing time was all he needed to establish creds as
                                                      slugging young backstop.

18. Steve Pearce              29    21 HRs in just 338 ABs. You do the math.
19. Adrian Gonzalez         29    Seems to have rediscovered his longball mojo last season.
20. Lucas Duda                 28    Tough part to play in but power seems legitimate for sure.
21. Prince Fielder             28    Used to be very durable. Used to hit plenty of taters.
                                                    Decent bet to rebound in chummy Texas’
22.  Josh Donaldson         28    Two big power years in a row. I’m a believer.
23.  Matt Kemp                  28     Could well be higher if he can just stay in one piece’
24.  Mark Trumbo              28     Awesome power hitting behind Goldschmidt, but sometimes
                                                     swings and misses. OK, swings and misses a whole lot.
25.  Albert Pujols               27     Fading ever so slightly with age and injuries, but still a HOF force
                                                     to reckon with.
26.  Ryan Braun                 27     He should be fully healthy going into 2015…so maybe 27 a
                                                     bit low here
27.  Joey Votto                  27    OBP monster, Hates to swing at anything outside of his cherished
                                                    strike zone. But here’s hoping he throws caution to the winds
                                                    every now and then in ‘15.
28.  J D Martinez               27    May go higher. Don’t think ‘14 was a fluke.
29.  Corey Dickerson       27     24 dingers in just 436 ABs.…plus he’s a Rockie. Could also go 
                                                    higher, especially since Cuddyer now gone.
30 Evan Longoria              27   Closed strong in ‘14. Will the momentum carry over ? 
31 Marcel Ozuna               27    Young slugger on the rise !
32 Victor Martinez            27    Round trippers could dip, but still could see fewer Ks than HRs.
                                                  Amazing !
33 Kyle Seager                 27    Hits keep a comin’, even in Seattle.
34 Carlos Santana            27    Really came to life in second half !
35 Todd Frazier                26    Likely to continue realizing power potential in Cincy.
36 David Ortiz                  26    How long can Old Man River keep rolling along without finally
                                                  going under ?
37 Anthony Rendon        26    Oh , so young and talented. 26 dingers may well be understating
                                                   his ‘15 output.
38 Matt Wieters                26    Great start last year cut short by injury. With health could come
                                                   career year.
39 Troy Tulowitzki            26    Will he be traded ? Will he stay healthy? Who knows ?
40  Carlos Gonzalez         26   Ditto.
41  Carlos Gomez            26    A true HR/ SB monster !
42  Brandon Moss            26   He often sits vs LH which depresses HRs but helps save BA.
43  Andrew McCutchen   26   This guy truly does it all !
44 Freddie Freeman        25   Great eye, but efficient line drive stroke has depressed HR
                                                           output to date.
45 Adrian Beltre              25   Still elite hitter. Fielder’s return should help rachet up
                                                            HR total in ‘15.

Doubtless the ‘ol crystal ball missed a few here, maybe more: Pederson and Gomes come to mind as do Meyers and Rosario as good buy low candidates. And then there’s Sandoval. Hitting in all those hitter-friendly AL East parks should help. Maybe a lot. But at least we did expand the coveted 25+ HR ranks  on paper from 27 last year to 45 heading into 2015.
Hey, I can enjoy a good old fashioned pitchers’ duel as well as the next fan. But given a true choice, I’ll take that majestic moonshot, that dramatic walk-off two run tater, that three run laser scattering panicked bleacher fans  or, best of all, the grand salami, every time. Chicks ain’t the only ones who dig the long ball !

Mike Russell