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MLB home run record: 15 current sluggers who could be next to make push for a 60-homer season

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Aaron Judge has a season for the ages. We already knew about it, but on Tuesday night he went ahead again and it was number 60. He is now the sixth player in MLB history to hit 60 home runs in a single regular season.

One of the many topics we are thinking about is who else will be able to surpass this sacred figure here in the relatively near future?

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Giancarlo Stanton came close to that in 2017, one notch behind at 59 years old. We saw Ryan Howard score 58 in 2006. Luis Gonzalez scored 57 points in 2001 and Ken Griffey Jr. scored 56 twice (in 1997 and 1998). We could even mention Jose Bautista’s 54 in 2010 or Pete Alonso’s 53 in 2019. That is, even if we wanted to pretend that players like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and A-Rod didn’t exist, there is a relatively decent frequency in the wildcard era of players going over 50 homers and gradually approaching 60 .

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Reaching 60 is extremely rare, but close enough to make us think about it? Not so much.

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With that in mind, let’s see which player could be next to make a 60 run – not necessarily get to 60, but get close enough or hit at a pace that makes us think it’s possible. Simply put: which player will be next to make us think about 60?

Here are some selected candidates (listed in alphabetical order) with my guess as to their chances of one day challenging 60.

1. Pete Alonso, Mets

They are listed alphabetically by last name, not ranked. However, if I were to rank them, Pete would also be at the top of this list. As already noted, he is already 53 years old. In 2020, he scored 16 points in 57 games (162 games from 45 home runs). He has a 40 chance this season as he played his 37th Tuesday night. He’s big and strong. He still has a few years of prime. What’s not to like?

Chance of calling 60: From decent to good. He is one of the best players here.

2. Jordan Alvarez, Astros

He’s got a high home run career this year, though he’s still under 40. But there are some pretty big caveats to this offer. Alvarez is only 25 years old. As a rookie, he hit 27 home runs, but that was in just 87 games. He has only played 122 games this season and still has 37 homers. His contact skills have improved and he hits the ball just as hard as everyone else. Namely, Judge leads the Majors in average exit rate this season (shocking, I know), with Alvarez in second place.

It has all the features you need.

Chance of calling 60: Like no one else.

3. Byron Buxton, Gemini

Judge him by his subtle body at your own risk, because his punch has serious power. Buxton hit 47 home runs in 153 games in 2021/22. If we fixate on his 2020 season, his 162-game home run pace over the past three seasons is 51.

Of course, Buxton doesn’t stay on the field. Even in the 60-game 2020 season, he only played 39 games. In 2021 it was 61 and this season it is 93.

He is 28 years old and has the ability. We can just say “if he just stayed healthy” so many times before it doesn’t make any sense.

Chance of calling 60: Low, to the point where I almost didn’t turn it on due to my injury history.

4. Oneil Cruz, “Pirates”

Have you seen his highlights? The Pirates’ rookie hit the hardest ball in history. This is true, statistically, at least in the Statcast era. He has several hardest hitting balls this season, including one hardest hit at 192.4 mph. He has 17 home runs in 74 games as a rookie at age 23. There is bound to be growth at his age, and with such raw talent, the proverbial sky is the limit.

He’s also hitting just .220 in 118 strikeouts against 21 walks in 304 plate appearances. Of course, these are not direct home runs, but poor ball batting skills and poor plate discipline make the error for batters very thin.

As I said, there will definitely be some growth, but if it doesn’t seriously eliminate the shortcomings, the ceiling will probably be somewhere in the mid-40s.

Chance of calling 60: Moderate? Probably lower, but it’s hard to say now. He has the advantage, but holes hold back his chances.

5. Raphael Devers, Red Sox

He hits the ball very hard. This season, he is in the top 5 in terms of average exit speed, and this is no exception. He has always been one of the best there. He is also only 25 years old. Devers hit 38 home runs last season, though a terrible second half of the year saw him back down.

The incredibly short porch to right field at Fenway helps lefties here and the Green Monster in left field. could help – but can also turn hard lanes into doubles instead of home runs.

I would have liked him better after 2019 (32 homers, 54 doubles at age 22, I thought a lot of those doubles would turn into home runs with age), but he’s still young enough to have at least one great run.

Chance of calling 60: Short. External shot.

6. Nolan Gorman, Cardinals

The former first-rounder had 15 bombs in 34 Triple-A games before being called up to the Majors this season. He scored 14 goals in 89 games for the major league Cardinals. That in itself isn’t confusing when we’re talking about a foray into the mid-50s and up, but Gorman is only 22 years old and just learning how to pitch in MLB.

As with Cruz, the low average, low walk rates, and high strikeouts are certainly a concern, but there are plenty of upsides as well.

Chance of calling 60: We’ll say the odds are slim for now, but he can quickly prove that it isn’t.

7. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Blue Jays

It’s easy to choose here, isn’t it? Vlad turned 48 in 2021 at the age of 22. He’s taken a decent step back this season, but we’ve already seen the skill set needed to move up to the mid-50s and beyond.

It is still incredibly difficult to cross the 50-year mark and continue to work in one season. Besides, there’s always the chance that last season was a standout for Guerrero’s career, but what’s so interesting about thinking like that?

Chance of calling 60: Decent.

8. Aaron Judge, Yankees

So he already did it once. If we wanted to count the season in which he hit 52, he came close to 60 at least twice. Now the question is, can he make another run?

Of course he could. He has already shown that he can.

The most reasonable bet is that Judge will never have a season like this again. He’s had so many opportunities this season and, to be clear, he’s created most of those breaks for himself. Changes and improvements are evident throughout. This is truly a season for the ages.

Things to keep in mind: The judge is 30 years old. He’s had injury problems before.

It is interesting to consider whether the judge is signing somewhere else. Contrary to popular belief, Yankee Stadium isn’t great for home runs, especially for right-handed hitters. Overall, it sits roughly in the middle of the pack, and that short right-hand porch mostly benefits lefties. A change of home stadium could benefit him.

Chances to challenge again 60: Pretty good, but I feel like we’re seeing a year of his career. I will say that he will not turn 50 again. If he somehow signs a contract with the Rockies, I will change this position.

9. Shohei Otani*, Angels

It’s an asterisk! On Otani?

Yes, and that goes for his chances of approaching 60 as well as pitching.

I don’t think he can seriously surpass the 46 points he scored last season while he’s still in the rotation. It’s too much physical work for the guy to hope that he can challenge a figure like 60 home runs in a season.

If not for this, all the ingredients are there.

Chance of calling 60: If it stops pumping, I’d say hard, pretty hard. For now, no. On the other hand, Otani has basically already shown that he’s betting against him doing something stupid, so don’t take my word for it.

10. Austin Riley, Braves

Riley’s first full season at the MLB level was in 2021 at age 24. He hit 33 home runs, 18 of which came in his last 69 games. This year he will be 36 years old, and he has a chance to be among the 40-year-olds. This is good progress for a strong player who hits the ball very hard on a regular basis.

Riley feels like the guy who’s going to hit 35 to 45 home runs in a season for a long time to come. Sometimes these guys never make it to 50 in a year (even Hank Aaron never made it! His career peak was 45). Sometimes there is one big jump.

Chance of calling 60: I’ll say it’s low. Riley feels like a mid-level hitter who will sit permanently in the 30s with a dash of over 40 seasons of homer. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either.

11. Julio Rodriguez, The Sailors

Future AL Rookie of the Year leads the Mariners to the playoffs. He is only 21 and we have seen many examples of players who are already players at that age and develop great home run power at the major league level. He’s already in the top 10% in average exit speed and doesn’t have the same concerns about strikeouts and cymbal discipline as other youngsters.

Plus, he’s already progressing at the MLB level. In 12 games, he hit .136 with .159 slugging and 22 strikeouts in 44 at-bats. He didn’t hit a single home run in April. September was his best month of the season. Simple: it’s a direction to all sorts of good places.

Chance of calling 60: I may be a little overzealous here, but I like his chances of getting into the stadium at least once. Even if it only peaks around 55, it will venture into territory where we’re talking about 60.

12. Giancarlo…


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