Here are the AL East's best pure power hitters

May 8th, 2020

Frank Robinson was considered an old 30 when the Reds traded him to the Orioles after the 1965 season. That proved to be wrong. Robinson immediately gave the Orioles power and run production the following year, showing American League opponents early that he had the best power on the team. It was May 8, 1966, that Robinson hit a ball completely out of Memorial Stadium -- an estimated 541 feet -- off Indians right-hander Luis Tiant.

“My goodness, what a blast. Oh, my goodness,” exclaimed Chuck Thompson, the Orioles' play-by-play voice that day.

There is no substitute for power, and Robinson ended up winning the Triple Crown and the AL MVP Award while leading the Orioles to a World Series title that year.

This week, we asked our AL East beat writers to pick the best power hitter for each of the five teams in the division.

AL East players with the best tools: Hit | Batter's eye

Blue Jays:
It's another week of Vladdy Jr. nabbing the top tool in the Blue Jays' organization, but there's a reason he was baseball's No. 1 prospect prior to making his debut in 2020. Guerrero's power tool trails behind his 80-grade hit tool, but both are rare, and that 91-homer performance at the 2019 Home Run Derby was no fluke. Improving his launch angle is key for Guerrero but, once he does, that natural hitting ability will lead to even more natural power, says Blue Jays hitting coach Guillermo Martinez.

"I’ve always told him that he’s a hitter first who tends to hit for power," Martinez said. "He’s not a power hitter. I want him to be a hitter with power.” -- Keegan Matheson

Trey Mancini led the Orioles with 35 homers a year ago, but let’s use this forum to highlight the light-tower power of Núñez, who broke out for 31 dingers in his first season as a big league regular. Núñez didn’t always connect, but when he did, his plus power was plain to see. The Orioles were banking on their everyday DH growing into more during his age-26 season.

Of his 31 homers, 25 traveled at least 400 feet, per Statcast, easily the most of any Orioles hitter. He also led the club in average home run distance (413 feet) and average exit velocity (107.3 mph) on homers, while slightly besting Mancini in barrel rate. Núñez accounted for half of Baltimore’s four farthest homers in 2019; he is the only player on the roster who can boast a shot of at least 450 feet. -- Joe Trezza

It didn’t take long for Renfroe to impress his new teammates with his power. During his first batting practice in Spring Training, Renfroe launched multiple homers over the left-field fence and into the players' parking lot at Charlotte Sports Park.

“I’ve been in the outfield when he’s hitting, and there aren’t many balls to be caught because most of them are flying over the fence,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “Obviously, [there’s] the number he put up last year, but I think he’s just getting better and better. That power is going to be big in our lineup.”

Renfroe has hit over 25 home runs in each of his first three big league seasons, including a career-high 33 dingers in 2019. Though he set a new career high in homers last season, Renfroe believes he could’ve finished with more had it not been for some nagging lower body injuries that required offseason surgery. The Renfroe trade, which sent Tommy Pham to the Padres, came as a surprise over the offseason, but his ability to put up a 40-homer season is a big reason why he’s a member of the Rays. -- Juan Toribio

Red Sox:
The master of the launch angle, Martinez has emerged as the most reliable home run hitter in the game in recent years. From 2017-19, Martinez has belted 124 homers, the most in the Majors. Nelson Cruz is second with 117. Martinez’s pop is impressive because he can go deep with ease from foul line to foul line. He is naturally an opposite-field hitter, but knows exactly when to take advantage of a good pull opportunity at Fenway when ahead in the count.

Martinez is hardly just a slugger, as evidenced by the fact that he has hit over .300 in each of the last four seasons. Instead of swinging for the fences, Martinez’s power just kind of flows naturally. -- Ian Browne

The Yankees have no shortage of players who can put on an batting practice display -- Aaron Judge, Gary Sánchez and Luke Voit each take their turns putting baseballs in the seats on a regular basis -- but in terms of pure, awe-inspiring power, Stanton is the player who instantly commands his teammates' attention every time that he steps into the batting cage.

The 2017 National League MVP with the Marlins, Stanton paced the Majors with 59 home runs that season and has slugged 41 blasts through his first 176 games with the Yankees, though injuries kept him off the field for most of last season. Stanton is said to be at full strength after sustaining a calf injury this spring, and whether it's at the plate or in the weight room, any Yankee attempting to match Stanton in the muscle department will have a challenge. -- Bryan Hoch