MLB Players With Best Chance of Hitting 50 Homers in 2018
Odds for players to hit 50 home runs during MLB’s 2018 season come via Westgate and are accurate as of Monday, April 30. Please note that we’re limiting our field to the five players who are laying the top odds, and not necessarily looking at the league’s home-run leaders. This is done to ensure we’re analyzing names who are guaranteed offerings at sportsbooks.
5. Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees (+500)
Giancarlo Stanton is laying the best odds of anyone in the league to jack 50 homers—and, well, he shouldn’t be. Not anymore.
The 28-year-old is struggling mightily in his first season with the New York Yankees. His slugging percentage and on base percentage will go down as career lows if they don’t improve, and he’s hit just five four-basers through nearly 110 plate appearances.
As of now, Stanton is on pace to hit somewhere between 28 and 32 homers—and that’s if he plays in every remaining game, which we can safely assume he won’t do.
His odds are worth monitoring, because he’ll be a nice surprise long-shot play if they ever reflect his current slump. He’s an MVP talent and capable of running of homers in bunches for weeks at a time. But, right now, it appears he may need half the year, if not more, to adjust to playing in his new digs. And that would preclude him from reaching the 50-homer marker for a second consecutive year.
4. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles (+1800)
Will Manny Machado ever cool off?
It’s a fair question. The Baltimore Orioles’ third baseman and shortstop is currently batting an MLB-best .361 after the first month of the season. And while he’s not hitting homers at a crazy rate, he’s on track to destroy his career-best slugging percentage mark.
Durability also serves him extremely well. Machado made 630 plate appearances last year. If he matches that number, his current home run rate would put him at 52 or 53 long bombs.
Still, he’s never hit more than 37 since entering the league. Though 25-year-olds like himself are no strangers to supreme leaps, a 13-spot home run jump feels a little ambitious. If nothing else, his batting average and slugging percentage are just too dang high to sustain for the entire year. Invest in him with caution.
3. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (+800)
Aaron Judge is laying the second-best odds of anyone on this list, behind only teammate Giancarlo Stanton. Ironically enough, he and Stanton were the only two players who cleared the 50-homer threshold last season. And ironically again, he, like Stanton, got off to a slower than projected start.
Unlike Stanton, however, Judge is on the up and up. He’s batting over .315, and his OPS—combined measurement for on-base percentage and slugging percentage—is right in line with last year’s performance, which included him going yard an MLB-best 52 times.
Seven home runs through 101 at bats isn’t anything spectacular. Not by judge’s standards. If he musters the same number of plate appearances as he did last year (542), that would put him at around 38 homers. But we have to expect he’ll go yard more often as the season progresses. Pitchers cannot work around his at bats as often with Stanton, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorious in the Yankees’ lineup. Something, somewhere has to give—and we’re betting it’s his below board home run rate.
2. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (+1500)
Bryce Harper has only cleared 30 home runs once in his career—his MLB-lording 42-shot performance from 2015, at the age of 22. Injuries and general lackluster slugging percentages have prevented him from getting back to that level since.
Harper is currently on pace to send out 52ish home runs—and that’s while leading the league in total walks through his first 28 appearances. If pitchers cease trying to throw around him, his projection could actually elevate.
Granted, health is the caveat in all this. Harper is not posting career best slugging percentage numbers. He’ll need to play in 155 games or so to really have a shot at sniffing 50 homers. And he has only ever come close to doing that once, again in 2015, when he made 153 cameos. But with the relative struggles of the big guns in New York, plus the total untenability of Manny Machado’s performance thus far, he’s the no-brainer choice for this No. 2 slot.
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (+1800)
How has Mike Trout never even had a 45 home run season before this one? Like, seriously, he has the build and swing of a deep-ball hoarder. That his career high sits at 41 (during the 2015 crusade) is almost a letdown.
That might not matter for much longer. Trout is tied with the Seattle Mariners’ Mitch Haniger and the Yankees’ Didi Gregorious for the league’s lead in home runs with 10. If he keeps up his current going-yard frequency, he’ll end the year with 57 or 58 homers. That is not a misprint.
To be fair, this would be predicated on him playing in all 162 of the Los Angeles Angels’ games. That’s not going to happen. He missed 16 games total between 2013 and 2016, but he sat for nearly 60 last year. Pegging him for somewhere around 150 appearances feels right, even if it’s a little conservative.
And that should be enough. At his current pace, he’ll see around 553 at bats should he play in 150 games. That, in turn, puts him around 53 or 54 home runs if his current hitting tendencies hold. And there’s no real reason to believe they won’t.
Trout is 26, going on 27, so he’s in the thick of his baseball prime. That he’s notching what would be the highest slugging percentage of his career is hardly something worth doubting—especially when his batting average (.291) is the third lowest of his professional tenure.
*All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are accurate leading into games being played on Tuesday, May 1 unless otherwise cited.
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