One potential HR champ on every team
Quick: Who hit the most home runs in the American and National Leagues last year? You might know that the answers are Jorge Soler and Pete Alonso, respectively, but it’s fair to say that no one would have predicted those two heading into the 2019 season. There are home runs everywhere in baseball these days, so many that it can be easy to lose track. It can seem like every team has a monster slugger somewhere on its roster.
Thus, today we take a look at the most likely next home run champ on every team. There have been some funky leaders in the past, players who come and go. We are only three years removed from home run champ Mark Trumbo, four years removed from home run champ Chris Carter and six years removed from home run champ Pedro Alvarez. Who’s your team’s best bet to lead their league in home runs?
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B: The plate control wasn’t quite there for him in his rookie year, but the power clearly was. Get those two things back in sync, and look out.
Orioles: Trey Mancini, OF: There obviously aren’t a lot of candidates here, but Mancini walked into 35 in 2019, and since the Orioles apparently are not trading him, they should bat him second this season and let him just swing for the fences as much as possible.
Rays: Austin Meadows, OF: He hit 33 last year in 138 games. If he can improve the rate a little bit and stay healthy, he could raise that by 10 at least.
Red Sox: J.D. Martinez, DH: Martinez, somehow, has never led his league in home runs, but he topped 40 in two of the last three years.
Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton, LF: This is the year Stanton stays healthy and goes insane at Yankee Stadium. Right? It has to be. (And yes, Aaron Judge is a perfectly acceptable answer, though it should be noted that he has hit a total of 54 homers over the last two years after mashing 52 as a rookie in 2017.)
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Indians: Jose Ramirez, 3B: The home run total dropped like everything else did in 2019, but not in the second half. If he’s back, he will be very, very back.
Royals: Jorge Soler, DH: Amazingly, the Royals never had a player with a 40-homer season until Soler swatted 48 last season, and he’s a decent bet to lead the AL again.
Tigers: C.J. Cron, 1B: It’s unlikely that any hitter who plays his home games in spacious Comerica Park is winning any home run titles, but Cron will at least hit more than 15 in 2020. (No Tiger in 2019 did.)
Twins: Nelson Cruz, DH: Cruz actually led the Majors in homers in 2014 with 40. His home run totals since then: 44, 43, 39, 37, 41.
White Sox: Eloy Jimenez, OF: His nine homers and 1.093 OPS in September are signs of things to come.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Mike Trout, CF: He reached his career high last year with 45, and of course he missed almost 30 games. A 50-homer season is pretty much the only thing he’s missing on his individual resume.
Astros: Alex Bregman, 3B: He does so many other things well that you almost forget 40-plus homers are also on the table every year. (He hit 41 last year, making excellent use of the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park.)
Athletics: Khris Davis, DH: He had his first down season in awhile in 2019 after hitting 40-plus homers from 2016-18, which means a bounce back in 2020 would be particularly exciting.
Mariners: Daniel Vogelbach, DH: The only demand here is that every at-bat be at least a dramatic attempt to hit a home run.
Rangers: Joey Gallo, OF: He was well on his way to a home run title last season before an oblique injury and then a broken hamate derailed his breakout campaign.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Ronald Acuña Jr., OF: The scariest thing about Acuña is that you still feel he’s only starting to scratch the surface of what he can do.
Marlins: Jesus Aguilar, 1B: He hit 35 just two seasons ago.
Mets: Pete Alonso, 1B: The joy he has brought to Citi Field almost makes up for everything else Mets fans have to deal with.
Nationals: Juan Soto, LF: A massive power surge seems like the next achievement he’ll unlock, no?
Phillies: Bryce Harper, RF: Last season, Harper recorded his second-highest home run total … at 35. Here’s betting he passes that this year.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: Christian Yelich, OF: At this point there is nothing he cannot do … as long as foul tips avoid his knees.
Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B: This is still probably the answer for the Cardinals, as Goldy quietly ended up with 34 dingers last year, one more than the season before.
Cubs: Javier Báez, SS: The one Cub who has to feel pretty safe about not being traded has incredible power, to go along with everything else.
Pirates: Josh Bell, 1B: It might get a little lonely for Bell in this lineup, but he has the brawn.
Reds: Aristedes Aquino, OF: He wasn’t really on anyone’s radar last year when he was called up on Aug. 1, and then he became the first first player to hit 10 homers in his first 16 career games. He’ll either win a home run title or be back in the Minors by June. It doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of middle ground here.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Eduardo Escobar, 3B: You realize he hit as many homers as Bryce Harper last year, right?
Dodgers: Cody Bellinger, OF: The swing feels like it was genetically engineered to hit 50.
Giants: Brandon Belt, 1B: The Giants are moving in their fences in center and right-center a few feet for 2020, which is great news for Belt, who has lost more homers to Oracle Park’s “Triples Alley” than anyone. That said, he’s still a long shot. Did you know that Barry Bonds hit 160 homers in the eight years he played in this park, and that no other player has hit more that 66 there (Pablo Sandoval)? Belt has 47 homers at home in nine seasons with the Giants.
Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr., SS: He was on pace for around 40 last year. Wait until he really figures it out.
Rockies: Nolan Arenado, 3B: He may do this quietly, and alone.