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Unforeseen power
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Baltimore's free agent signing of Nelson Cruz turned out to be a stroke of genius as the outfielder has smashed a major league-leading 39 homers this season.

But it's not a complete shock to fans and fantasy owners as Cruz did hit 27 long balls in his suspension-shortened 2013 season and has hit at least 22 home runs in each of the last six years.

We are also not surprised by the outputs of Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout, David Ortiz or Edwin Encarnacion. They are all sluggers and that's what they are paid to do.

What might surprise you as much as it does me are the eight players listed below who put up unexpectedly good power numbers.

Victor Martinez, Detroit - OK, Martinez had reached the 20-HR mark five times in his career, but after seasons with 12 and 14 heading into April, I'm not sure anyone could have predicted this eruption of power. He's mashed a career- high 31 home runs and his .970 OPS is 58 points above his next best season. He'll be a prime candidate to be drafted too early next March as he likely returns to the 20-25 home run level.

Lucas Duda, New York Mets - During his first four major league seasons, Duda hit a home run every 25.1 at-bats. In 2014, the 28-year-old has hit a long ball every 17.2 at-bats. That in combination with increased playing time will likely mean Duda finishes this season doubling his previous career home run mark (15). Strangely, even as I write this he's only owned in 66-percent of all Yahoo leagues.

Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati - I don't know what got into Mesoraco this season, but his hitting totals came completely out of the blue. In roughly the same number of at-bats he received in 2013, the Reds catcher has more than doubled his home run total, nearly doubled his RBI total and improved his OPS by 248 points. He's had minor league seasons like this, but this is the first one at the big league level so I'm not sure it's repeatable.

Corey Dickerson, Colorado - Dickerson hasn't hit this many home runs (23) since Single-A ball playing for the Asheville Tourists. His splits show he is a dominant hitter in the thin air of Colorado and below average on the road, so he's only a solid option as long as his home is Coors Field.

Marcel Ozuna, Miami - Talk about growing into a job. The 23-year-old has become a force with 23 homers, 85 RBI and 72 runs scored after hitting just four homers in 275 at-bats in 2013. Those numbers are while primarily batting down in the Marlins lineup (sixth or seventh). There is no telling what he can produce in the coming years, but I want him on my team.

J.D. Martinez, Detroit - Strangely, the change in scenery from hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park to the large expansive outfield of Comerica Park has been a boon to Martinez. After averaging .251 and eight homers a season for three years in Houston, Martinez exploded in Detroit with 23 homers and a .319 batting average. Must be something in the water ... see Martinez, Victor.

Anthony Rendon, Washington - Heading into this season Rendon had never hit more than seven home runs in any professional season - minors or majors. But playing almost everyday at third base for the injured Ryan Zimmerman, he's become the heart of the Nationals offense, batting .285 with 20 homers, 80 RBI and a league-leading 110 runs.

Steve Pearce, Baltimore - In his first seven seasons, Pearce was just a bit player and never hit more than four homers in a season. He's seen a lot more playing time this season with the AL East Division winners and his 20 homers in just 370 at-bats is something he hasn't done since Single-A ball. I wouldn't expect a repeat performance in 2015.




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


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