I broke down some of the common stats of MLB home run leaders in the Statcast era (since 2015) below. Although I included the 2020 short season, I’m not going to focus much on that data, (I’m OK if you just want to throw 2020 out). This year I am using Statcast numbers more than I have in the past to bet home run leaders. I am mostly looking at average exit velocity, Max EV, launch angle degree, barrel% and HardHit%. All the Statcast data is available at Fangraphs.
Using recent Statcast data, here are eight players I bet to lead MLB in home runs in 2022:
Yordan Alvarez 40/1 and 20/1
Alvarez is one of the best pure power hitters in baseball -- and one of my favorite players. His 2021 Statcast numbers are in line with what I am looking for out of previous winners: 93.2 average exit velocity, 116.4 Max EV, 14.1-degree launch angle, 15.9% barrel rate and a 54.2% hard hit rate. He does everything all the previous winners have done and he’s hitting cleanup on what should be a playoff-bound Astros team. Alvarez checks every box off for what I’m looking for in a home run leader.
Corey Seager 200/1 and 100/1
You might not be surprised to find that several of my bets are on players I have made wagers on before. Corey Seager is another one of my favorite players, and after only playing 95 games for the Dodgers in 2021, he moves to Texas where he’ll be batting second in the Rangers’ everyday lineup, sandwiched between Marcus Semien and Mitch Garver -- that is a lot of power at the top. In 2020, while healthy and winning a World Series MVP on the Dodgers, Seager’s Statcast numbers were: 93.2 MPH average exit velocity, 113.1 Max EV, 11.9-degree launch angle, 15.8% barrel rate, 55.4% hard hit rate. These are the Statcast numbers of a potential home run champion.
Jorge Soler 100/1
Soler is hot off winning the 2021 World Series MVP and moves from Atlanta to Miami where he slots into the No. 2 spot in the Marlins’ batting order. Miami has put together a talented roster despite its unwillingness to spend money. He will get 550-plus at bats batting second every day, and with that many at bats he’ll have a chance to contend for the home run crown if he can return to his 2019 barrel rate of 16%. Don’t forget in 2019 Jorge Soler hit 48 home runs in Kansas City and finished third in the majors, trailing only Eugenio Suarez (49) and Pete Alonso (53). Soler also goes from Kansas City and their 0.83 home run park factor, and Atlanta with its 1.02 home run park factor, to Miami where he should get a slight boost playing in a park that played to a 1.33 home run park factor in 2021.
Soler 2021 Statcast numbers: 91.1 MPH avg. exit velocity, 117.9 max EV, 15.7-degree launch angle, 12.4% barrel rate, 45.7% hard hit rate.
Cody Bellinger 100/1
I probably should have skipped this one. Bellinger is a much different player at the moment than the 2019 version that won NL MVP and hit 47 home runs. I think I might have wasted $500 on this one. Let’s move on.
Luke Voit 150/1
I was very, very negative about the 2021 San Diego Padres -- and they proved me right. I am a lot more optimistic about the 2022 team, and I like the moves they have made this offseason. There wasn’t any room for Voit to get consistent at bats with the Yankees and I guess leading the league in home runs in 2020 didn’t really matter much-- or it was a “What have you done for me lately?” situation in New York. Combined with Fernando Tatis Jr.’s poor motorcycle handling skills, Voit finds himself out of New York and the cleanup hitter in San Diego.
San Diego is a slightly worse hitting park than Yankee Stadium, but I think Voit’s game translates well to the West Coast and he’ll have no problem launching home runs through the marine layer early in the season in San Diego and LA. Voit’s game is power and his Statcast numbers are competitive with other home run leaders.
Voit 2021 Statcast numbers: 90.7 MPH avg. exit velocity, 110.9 Max EV, 15.9-degree launch angle, 15.8% barrel rate, 51.8% hard hit rate.
Bobby Witt Jr. 300/1
I don’t have minor league Statcast numbers, unfortunately. I bet this at 300/1 at Westgate (they opened it 500/1), they moved it to 100/1 and now its at 60/1. The last rookie to lead MLB in home runs was Pete Alonso in 2019. Alonso and Witt Jr. are no match for body types, but I actually think Witt Jr. is a better hitter, and a quick look at their Triple-A advanced numbers leave me thinking that I’ve made worse bets at 300/1 before.
Ryan Mountcastle 200/1
Mountcastle hit 33 home runs in 144 games in his 2021 rookie season. I think he can improve on those numbers and if he can get the hard hit rate and barrel% up a bit, he can contend for a home run title in the same park that produced four home run title winners in the past 10 years. (Mark Trumbo, Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis twice).
2021 Statcast numbers: 89.1 average exit velocity, 114.6 Max EV, 16.3-degree launch angle, 11.8% barrel rate. 39.7% hard hit rate.
Seiya Suzuki 300/1 and 250/1
Another guy without Statcast data. Various projection systems that I trust have him projected for between 19 and 29 home runs, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he blew through those numbers. Wrigley Field is a great home run-hitting ballpark and Roster Resource has Suzuki projected hitting fifth in the lineup. I think he’ll be hitting second and he’ll have a lot of opportunities to hit home runs when the weather warms up this summer in Chicago. I am also going to look for a home run over/under prop on Suzuki and likely bet over if I can get anything in the low 20s.
Home Run Leader (total, player, team) in the Statcast Era
(Exit Velocity, maxEV, launch angle degree, Barrel%, HardHit%)
2015: 45, Chris Davis, Orioles
92.1 MPH, 113.2 MPH, 17.5 LA, 16.8%, 46.2%
2016: 47, Mark Trumbo, Orioles
92.7 MPH, 117.2 MPH, 15.2 LA, 14.7%, 44.7%
2017: 59, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
91.9 MPH, 122.2 MPH, 11.1 LA, 16.9%, 45.5%
2018: 48, Khris Davis, A’s
92.5 MPH, 112.8 MPH, 18.2 LA, 16.7%, 47.5%
2019: 53, Pete Alonso, Mets
90.7 MPH, 118.3 MPH, 14.8 LA, 14.6%, 42.2%
2020, 22, Luke Voit, Yankees
88.9 MPH, 111.7 MPH, 15.2 LA, 13.1%, 40%
2021: 48, Salvador Perez/Vlad Guerrero Jr, Royals/Blue Jays
Perez: 93.0 MPH, 114.4 MPH, 15.9 LA, 16.3%, 55.9%
Guerrero Jr.: 95.1 MPH, 117.4 MPH, 9.4 LA, 15.1%, 55.2%