Aaron Judge nearly clinched the home run crown early last summer on his way to an American League-record 62 home runs — more than any other in the majors 16 more players.
But as the focus shifts to 2023, it’s worth noting that no players Leading MLB into more than a decade with consecutive seasons of home runs. So will someone overturn Judge this season or will he win again?
We asked five MLB.com writers to pick their 2023 Home run kings, here’s what they’ve chosen:
2010- Jose Bautista of the ’11 Blue Jays is the only player this century to lead the majors in home runs in two consecutive seasons. So while predicting another home run title for Judge might seem like an obvious choice at first glance, this actually is an anti-cereal choice, people.
After his monumental 2022 campaign, Judge is the only one Active major league player with multiple 50-home run seasons. Since making his debut in 2016, only Nolan Arenado (229) has gone further than Judge (220), and the reigning AL MVP has made more cricket appearances than the Cardinals star during that period. Almost 1,000 times less. Even in Judge’s injury-shortened ’18 and ’19 seasons, he was hitting about 40 home runs per season. Only four players hit the 40-homer plateau last season, and that’s basically Judge’s floor.
Predicting that Judge will cross 60 again is foolish. However, as if he needs any help, the 2023 schedule appears to be working in his favor. A balanced format can benefit all AL East teams, and after beating the National League last year with 10 home runs and a 1.313 OPS over 20 games, Judge should enjoy those extra league matchups. There’s one such series to circle your calendars right now: Judge will make his first visit to Coors Field July 14-16, right after the All-Star break. –Brian Murphy
Last year, Trout hit 40 home runs in just 119 games, becoming just the fourth homer in less than 120 games A player who hits 40 home runs. Since 2015, he has three 40-homer seasons, tied for the most in MLB during those stretches. He hits the ball hard and in the air — two key components to hitting a home run. Trout’s best batting average has been above the MLB average in each of the eight years Statcast has tracked — meaning he’s been making straight and fly ball contact. Check. His slugging percentage is also above the MLB average. Check again. In 2022, he’s out of the barrel at 19.7%, the highest he’s been tracked by Statcast. The barrel is the ideal combination for hitting the ball, with launch angle and exit velocity, often resulting in extra base hits. By then, 38 of Trout’s 40 home runs had been hit. , he is Mike Trout. We know he can do it. –Sarah Lance
Pop Quiz, Top Shots: Which player has hit the most home runs in baseball over the past four years? Well, here’s the Polar Bear, whose 146 — including a rookie record in 2019 and an MLB-high 53 — totaled nine more than Judge’s 137. Alonso is also averaging 46 runs per 162 games, and his strikeout rate has dropped from 26.4 percent in his debut season to 18.7 percent last year. Oh, and the two-time home run derby champ still has the ability to hit the ball as hard as anyone (see: 116.5 mph max out from 2022).
Another key factor to consider? Unlike Judge and Trout, who were selected first and second in this “draft”, Alonso has no injury problems. In fact, he played 530 of 546 games over his four seasons — the third-best mark in the majors at the time. As he enters his age-28 season, Alonso has the strength, past performance and stamina to claim another home run crown. –Jason Catania
Full disclosure, I’ve been considering Ohtani as my pick to lead all pitchers in strikeouts this season — but instead decided to play with him Base hit leader. That alone speaks to the absurdity of his talent, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Focus only on hitter Ohtani, who has 80 home runs over the past two seasons. Only Aaron Judge (101) had a better hit rate during that stretch.
and Ohtani’s home run is no bargain. He’s hit eight homers with at least 115 mph over the past two seasons, second only to Giancarlo Stanton (13). Even Judge, who has 21 total home runs, has only six such homers in that stretch. Ohtani’s home run average was also 412 feet, the third-best among players with at least 50 home runs. Only CJ Cron (423 feet) and Kyle Schwarber (413 feet), who play at home at Coors Field, averaged longer.
Home run chase in 2023 if both Ohtani and Trout stay healthy It’s possible the battle could play out entirely on the Angels’ roster — though Judge and Co. are sure to figure out something to say about that. –Paul Casella
I chose Alvarez when we did this exercise last season, although it didn’t quite work out – thanks, judge – Alvarez Nor did Stanley do anything to hurt the idea of having a home run champion in his future. First, his Baseball Savant page is all red: the 100th percentile for average ball velocity, slugging percentage, barrel percentage and expected slugging percentage. Few have made higher-quality contact than Alvarez, and he’s given himself more chances by reducing his strikeout rate by more than 5 percentage points. Or you could ignore all those numbers and just cycle through Alvarez’s huge off-field homer in Game 1 of the ALDS to get the same impression.
In any case, Alvarez is only 25 years old, has extraordinary talent and Beat baseball records. If he can stay healthy throughout the season (and Judge doesn’t create another historic campaign), he’ll be in it. –Andrew Simon