Fan of the long ball? AAA Sports posted better than +$17,000
units in the 2016 MLB season and they'll be looking to even better that mark
this season. In this week's MLB article, AAA Sports takes an early look at the
odds to win the regular season home run race.
Baseball was in trouble in the mid-1990s.
The 1994 strike which forced cancellation of the World
Series for just the second time had crippled interest in the game, TV ratings
were in the trash can and MLB was proving Yogi Berra's meme that "If people
don't want to come out to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?"
Then came Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Brady Anderson and
finally Barry Bonds. Commish Bud Selig saw home runs, didn't see (or saw and
chose not to act on) steroids, and the long ball brought back interest.
Things leveled off after MLB reluctantly instituted drug
testing, but the last few years have brought another huge surge in homers. The
number of long balls in 2015 increased by 17 percent over the previous year,
and last year HRs increased by another 15 percent.
There has been lots of speculation about the freakish
increase. Some believe the ball has been tinkered with (this was the prevalent
theory before the steroid cheaters were exposed), other think that players are
swinging from their heels and don't worry about strikeouts, and still others
think it is a byproduct of the death of small ball.
Whatever. No one believes balls will stop flying out of the
parks. Here is a look at some of the big guys, and their odds of leading the
majors in homers:
Kris Bryant 15/2 - The Cubs slugger hit 39 last year and
with good health should at least match that this time around.
Chris Davis 8/1 - Davis is in the prime of his career, and
Camden Yards is the perfect park for long balls.
Mark Trumbo 8/1 - Raise your hand if you thought Trumbo
would lead the majors (with 47) last year. Bear in mind his stats usually fade
in the second half.
Giancarlo Stanton 10/1 - A groin injury cost him a full 1/3
of the season in 2016. Probably would have had about 40 had he stayed healthy.
Edwin Encarnacion 10/1 - At least 34 in every year since
2012 and 42 last year, but Encarnacion has turned 34 and at some point bat
Bryce Harper 20/1 - Were the 42 he hit in his 2015 MVP
season what we can expect, or should we figure him for closer to the 20 he has
averaged in his other four years in the bigs?
For more of Art Aronson click here.