Pitchers and catchers are reporting for duty across MLB spring training this week and with the crack of the bat and pop of the mitt comes some MLB futures.
I plan to mow through any in all futures in an attempt to snatch value on some awards such as the Cy Youngs while taking a stab at win totals for all 30 teams and division odds and breakdown for all six divisions across the league
To start, however, I’ll look towards the long ball and some home run futures.
As I do with most of these types of futures, I’ll look to make a pick at different odds values as the list is both lengthy and chock-full of value potential.
To be clear, players like Aaron Jude (+900) and Mike Trout (+1100) surely carry value as they’re likely to hit plenty of dingers in 2020, and these picks are just fine too.
That said, these picks will be aimed to making some more money than that with some more under-the-radar names, because it’s just funner that way.
Let’s dive in and check out some value picks to pace the majors in home runs in 2020.
*Odds courtesy of BetOnline
MLB Home Run Leader Value Picks
Nolan Arenado (+1800)
This one is a little tricky because we aren’t quite sure where Arenado will suit up for the 2020 season as his name continues to spin in the rumor mill as his relationship with the Rockies continues to sour.
That said, if he somehow ends up staying with the Rockies for the 2020 season, he will, of course, be taking his home swings in the MLB’s most hitter-friendly venue at Coors Field in that thin Colorado air.
If not, I believe he could end up with a team like the Braves or Rangers, both of whom will have hitter-friendly home venues as well with the hot and humid conditions in Atlanta and Texas, the latter of whom is opening a brand new building for the 2020 campaign.
Nevertheless, he’s fully established as one of the most feared bats in the game at this point.
Over the last four seasons, only Nelson Cruz has hit more home runs than the 157 Arenado has launched while Arenado’s .271 isolated power (ISO) in that span checks in at ninth.
Of course, we should probably check into his “Coors Field Effect” throughout his career to see if he has a shot if he were to play elsewhere next season.
Indeed, Arenado owns a .211 ISO on the road versus his .290 mark throughout his career while he’s hit 98 home runs on the road compared to 129 at home in almost the exact same amount of games.
As a result, it would appear that Coors Field indeed played a factor in his gaudy power numbers over his career, but not to the extent that we can’t call him a power threat elsewhere.
I’m also of the opinion that if he gets dealt he could become a man on a mission, and at 28 he’s right in the prime of his career and owns some quality value to pace the bigs in long balls this season.
Bryce Harper (+3300)
Harper and the Phillies didn’t get off to the start they were hoping for after the signed a 13-year mega-deal during spring training of 2019 with the Phils missing the playoffs and Harper largely posting numbers below career norms.
Still, he didn’t disappoint much, if any, at all in the home run department as he clubbed 35 homers in the 2019 season which marked the season-highest total of his career behind the 42 he launched in his MVP 2015 campaign.
Harper will almost certainly need to set a new career-high in dingers to win the title in 2020, but I’m not sure sure it’s out of the question, especially if he can slug em’ like he did after the All-Star break last season.
In 90 games before the break, Harper hit 16 home runs, but hit 19 in just 67 games post-break.
If he could follow a similar home run-hitting pace to his post-break mark in the 2020 season, Harper would hit approximately 46 home runs in a full 162-game season.
Whether that would be enough to win the crown would be fairly close as nine players have hit more than 46 homers in a season over the last five years, but it would have a shot.
We know he’s capable of being the best player in the league in a given season, and he came close to a home run title in 2015, finishing third behind Chris Davis (47) and Nelson Cruz (44).
At these odds, I see value in a roll of the dice on the second-year Phillie.
Khris Davis (+4000)
After a down 2019, you wonder if Davis has the ability to rebound back to the form that saw him hit 40 home runs in three straight seasons.
Indeed, from 2016-2018, Davis hit the most home runs in baseball, and it actually wasn’t even close:
- Davis – 133
- Giancarlo Stanton – 124
- Nelson Cruz – 119
- Nolan Arenado – 116
- Edwin Encarnacion – 112
The interesting part of all of that is that Davis played half his games at the O.Co Coliseum in Oakland, a notorious pitcher-friendly ball park with spacious gaps and difficult home run-hitting dynamics.
Davis hit a career-high of 48 in the 2018 season which goes down as the third-highest total over the last five seasons behind the 59 Stanton hit while winning the 2017 NL MVP with the Marlins and the 52 Judge smacked as a rookie in that same season, before they became teammates of course.
As a result, there’s quite a reasonable chance that Davis wouldn’t even have to set a new career-high in home runs to cash in some serious value here.
The concern, however, is the 23 home runs he plummeted to in the 2019 season. He missed 29 games in 2019, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot as he simply wasn’t the same hitter with his ISO going from a whopping .302 in 2018 to just .166 a season ago.
Still, it’s hard for me too believe that he’s done hitting home runs with the best of em’. In fact, he was one of the favorites to win the home run crown in 2019, and we’re getting the same player at much more value here this time around.
He’s proven himself as an elite power hitter with one home run crown under his belt over the last two seasons, so I will look to claim some extra value on the 2018 home run king for the 2020 campaign.
Kris Bryant (+5000)
Like Arenado, this one has a wrinkle to it as we aren’t quite sure where Bryant will play his 2020 season as he too has been heavily rumored to be dealt this winter.
Like every other name on this list, Bryant has a mammoth home run season under his belt already with a 39-homer campaign in his NL MVP-winning 2016 season.
He slipped to 29 the following year and bounce back somewhat to 31 in the 2019 season after an injury-riddled 2018 campaign.
Two season removed from that injury-filled 2018 season, I’m looking for Bryant to re-establish himself as one of the top power hitters in baseball, perhaps outside of Wrigley Field in Chicago.
I was interested to dive into Bryant’s home/road splits as well as right-handed hitters can be aided by the jet stream blowing to left field at Wrigley in the summer as that’s a venue that is much more difficult on lefties in terms of the long ball.
However, Bryant hit 16 homers on the road to 15 at home in 2019 and logged 20 fewer plate appearances on the road as well.
That said, Bryant has hit more home runs at home (78) in his career than on the road (60) despite more than 50 fewer plate appearances at home.
Still, that’s tough to say if it’s the favorable jet stream or simply hitting for more power on your home turf as the majority of big leaguers that’s led to that home split.
At the end of the day, Bryant is also just 28 years old at this point and if he had it his way, he would have a career-year at the plate and one that would bring a ton of value to the table if he can hit for more power than ever before.