Can Marlon Byrd's power surge continue?
I spent a reserve bench pick on New York Mets outfielder Marlon Byrd in the LABR NL-only auction the first weekend of March, hoping the guy would just make the team. After all, the goal late in a one-league format is often to simply find playing time, and the Mets seemed oddly committed to Byrd, a fellow who was awful for the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox in 2012, hitting .210 with three extra-base hits in 47 games. It wouldn’t have surprised me if Byrd was out of baseball by the All-Star break, but of course I’m quite pleased that his grand slam in San Francisco late Tuesday night was his 14th home run of the season, putting him on pace to obliterate his career mark with 26 blasts at age 35. Makes perfect sense, right?
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiMarlon Byrd has five times as many strikeouts as walks but also a career-best .500 slugging percentage.
Fantasy owners in mixed leagues continue to seem rather cautious in adding Byrd, as he’s available in roughly three-quarters of standard leagues, even though he’s showing no signs of curtailing this power surge. Byrd is hitting .333 in July and has three consecutive multihit games and five in his past eight starts. After all, even when Byrd was in his prime -- he’s certainly past that now -- he wasn’t hitting for this kind of power. Byrd played for the Texas Rangers for a few seasons, and only once did he hit more than 12 home runs. That was 2009, when Byrd mashed 20 blasts and knocked in 89 runs for a team in a clear hitter’s park. Last year, Byrd hit one home run. He was a mess. Somehow he’s already hit 10 home runs off right-handed pitching alone, and not only has he kept his starting job for a team going nowhere, he’s now tied for the team lead in home runs, with one more than Home Run Derby captain David Wright.