There is nothing more pure in baseball than a home run. The sound off the bat, the noise in the crowd, the triumphant trot around the bases.
Last year was a historic year for one home run hitter in particular, as Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees went yard a staggering 62 times, breaking Roger Maris’ single season American League record in the process. Three other hitters managed to eclipse 40 homers, with none coming close to Judge. Kyle Schwarber of the Philadelphia Phillies hit 46 while Pete Alonso of the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout each hit 40.
With the 2023 MLB season getting underway, BetCalifornia.com decided to look at Fangraphs' 2023 Steamer projections to develop hypothetical odds on which player will lead the league in home runs this year.
While there is no legal California sports betting, keep it here for more hypothetical odds pieces like this.
2023 MLB Home Run Leader Odds
California Teams Well Represented
Looking at the projections shows Judge is yet again expected to pace the league, although his historic 62 from last season is more likely to be an outlier than something he will achieve again. The other three players to hit 40 or more last year are expected to do about the same and be in the top five, with Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. also expected to join them in hunting down Judge.
The California teams are well represented here, with Trout of course leading the way.
With a projected 39 home runs, Trout’s hypothetical odds of leading the league in home runs are +800. Trout’s career high is 45 homers, set in 2019 when he played 134 games. If he is able to reach that amount of games played this year, he could threaten 50 homers, considering he managed 40 last season despite only playing in 119 games. Those +800 odds would be a great value if bettors could assure themselves about Trout’s health, however that is not the case and playing enough games will be his biggest challenge when it comes to leading the league in home runs.
Trout’s teammate Shohei Ohtani, who struck out Trout to clinch the World Baseball Classic for Japan last month, also comes in high on the projected list, with 35 projected home runs, giving him hypothetical odds of +1400.
He had 34 home runs and 95 RBI across 157 games last year, putting him well in line to challenge the 40 home run mark this season. He managed 46 home runs in 2021, so he no doubt has the pop to lead the league, and somehow does it all while also being a top pitcher.
What To Make Of Tatis?
Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres also checks in with hypothetical odds of +1400 and the same projection of 35 home runs, but there's reason to be wary of this young slugger. Tatis hit 42 home runs in 2021, his first MLB season with more than 100 games played. But while hurt last season he was suspended for PED use, and still has another 20 games to serve this season before he can rejoin the Padres on April 20.
If he can stay healthy and be in the lineup for more than 130 games, his ceiling may be unmatched. But keep that PED suspension in mind when analyzing those +1400 odds.
It will take a monster season to top Judge this year, especially if he brings anywhere close to the amount of pop he had off the bat last season. But this trio of California-based sluggers all have the potential to take over from Judge and lead the league in home runs. Trout and Ohtani have shown in the past they have what it takes, and Tatis’ ceiling has yet to be fully explored.
BetCalifornia.com — your source for California sports betting promo codes — will keep tabs on all three California sluggers as the MLB season moves along.