MLB's HR leader in 2024? 10 sluggers with a case

February 23rd, 2024

Home run milestones have been a top story the past two MLB seasons. 's pursuit and capture of the American League home run record led to one of the most iconic moments of 2022.

We saw the home run record book change again in 2023 as the Braves slammed 307 homers, tied for most in AL/NL history. 's MLB-best 54 dingers had a lot to do with that amazing power display. He and , who clubbed 44 dingers for the Angels en route to his second unanimous AL MVP Award, led their respective league in homers for the first time.

Who will be the king of clout this season? Here are five of the top candidates to lead the Major Leagues in home runs -- and five dark horses -- as picked by a panel of experts.

1. , CF, Yankees
2023 HR: 37 (T-10th in MLB)

Judge hit 37 home runs in just 106 games last year, the most by a player who missed at least 50 of his team’s games in a season. And the year before that? He set an AL record with 62 home runs. He was the obvious choice here for the No. 1 favorite. Judge slugged .613 last season but had an expected slugging percentage of .712. That means he should have had an even higher slug based on the quality of contact he made. That’s a home run leader.

-- Sarah Langs

2. , DH, Dodgers
2023 HR: 44 (4th in MLB)

Ohtani is taking it a little easy this spring as he recovers from right elbow surgery, but he remains on track to play come Opening Day. And starting with his first batting practice session, Ohtani's power stroke looks ready for the games to begin. The Dodgers will probably give their newest superstar a few more rest days early in the season. That's fine; Ohtani's AL-leading 44 dingers last year came in only 135 games. Few players routinely make louder, more damaging contact, and being a part of the Dodgers' lineup may turn the two-time MVP into an even better hitter.

-- Brian Murphy

3. , RF, Braves
2023 HR: 41 (5th in MLB)

Acuña has played two full, healthy Major League seasons (2019 and ’23) and hit 41 homers in both of them, which gives you an idea of the sort of long ball talent we’re talking about here. But is that the 26-year-old’s ceiling? Doubtful. Few in the game hit the ball harder or farther than Acuña, who knocked 13 more barrels than anyone else in 2023. (Among those with 25-plus dingers, he ranked second behind Ohtani both in average exit velocity and distance on those homers.) Truist Park is also a relatively hitter-friendly launching pad, and the Braves’ stacked lineup will give Acuña lots of chances as long as he stays on the field once again.

-- Andrew Simon

4. , 1B, Braves
2023 HR: 54 (1st in MLB)

If a guy who had 176 home runs over six Major League seasons can have a “breakout” campaign, that’s what Olson had last year when he slammed a Braves-record 54 homers to lead MLB. He also paced MLB with 139 RBIs and the NL with a .604 slugging percentage. He set career bests in barrel rate (16.4%) and hard-hit rate (55.5%), among other quality-of-contact metrics, and at 29, he’s still in his prime. The question isn’t simply whether he’ll lead the Majors in homers for the second straight year, but also whether he’ll become the first NL player to eclipse the 60-homer milestone since Barry Bonds hit a record 73 in 2001.

-- Manny Randhawa

5. , RF, Rangers
2023 HR: 39 (T-7th in MLB)

Major League Baseball is currently spoiled with incredible power hitters, and García has more than earned the right to be counted among them. His 16.1% barrel rate in 2023 ranked seventh in MLB, barely behind Olson and (47 HR in '23). He’s had no trouble converting on that raw power, either -- his 39 homers last season gave him 97 since 2021, tied with for the 11th-most over that span. Assuming good health in the future, it kind of feels like it’s only a matter of time before García makes good on this prediction.

-- Shanthi Sepe-Chepuru


A dark horse could be defined in a number of ways, but our panel worked with this simple limitation: No seasons of 35-plus home runs from 2021-23. Thirty-three hitters reached that mark at least once during that span, so they are excluded from our picks here.

1. , CF, Mariners
2023 HR: 32

Rodríguez has cemented himself among the best players in baseball in just two seasons in the Majors. And earlier this week, he expressed disappointment with some of his results from last season. That was a year when Rodríguez became the second player to rank in the 90th percentile or better in batting, baserunning and fielding value in a season under Statcast tracking. We’ll take a highly motivated young superstar any day of the week, especially one who finished in the 95th percentile in hard-hit rate last season.

-- Sarah Langs

2. , 3B, Twins
2023 HR: 15

A torn right knee ligament as well as left oblique and hamstring strains have limited Lewis to only 70 big league games since debuting in 2022. But when his career hasn’t been star-crossed, the former No. 1 overall Draft pick has displayed serious pop. His 15 home runs in 2023 came in just 58 games -- that’s 42 dingers over a 162-game season. He went deep 11 times in his final 26 regular-season games and added four more clouts in a record-tying postseason performance. Lewis’ 114 mph maximum exit velocity and 11.7% barrel rate from 2023 demonstrate his fantastic raw power and his ability to make optimal contact. With a dash of injury luck, Lewis could deliver a huge stat line.

-- Brian Murphy

3. , 1B, Tigers
2023 HR: 31

Torkelson fits the criteria here, but in some ways, he is the furthest thing from a dark horse. He was a slugging sensation at Arizona State, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 Draft and a consensus top-five prospect who climbed quickly. Yet adjusting to the highest level was a big-time struggle for Torkelson, who hit just eight homers (with a .604 OPS) in 110 games as a rookie. He started slow last year, too, but went deep 16 times in his final 48 games, tying Judge for second in MLB over that span. Still just 24, Torkelson has the raw power (94th-percentile hard-hit rate, 89th-percentile barrel rate) to ascend the home run leaderboard as he continues to refine his game at the plate.

-- Andrew Simon

4. , SS, Rangers
2023 HR: 33

Seager has hit 33 homers in each of the past two seasons. The difference between 2022 and ’23? He needed 116 fewer at-bats to do it in ’23. The Rangers shortstop had a career year despite being limited to 119 games by injury, setting career highs in RBIs (96), slugging percentage (.623) and OPS (1.013). If Seager, who finished runner-up to Ohtani in AL MVP Award voting, can stay on the field for 150 games or more in ’24, his trajectory suggests he could eclipse the 40-homer mark for the first time. As far as his home run ceiling goes, who knows?

-- Manny Randhawa

5. , INF/OF, Cubs
2023 HR: 26

Morel generates a ton of power, as evidenced not only by his batted-ball data (15.9% barrel rate, 50.0% hard-hit rate in 2023) but also by his arm, which averaged 96.6 mph on competitive throws last season. To this point, he’s been streaky -- he hit 26 homers in 107 games last year (a 39-HR pace over 162 games) but started with a truly ludicrous nine in his first 12. At 24 years old, he’s also still very much on the front end of his development curve. Who's to say where his ceiling is?

-- Shanthi Sepe-Chepuru