Boom or bust. Home run or strikeout. That’s an exaggeration, but it’s not too far off how the game of baseball is played today. Teams are looking for the instant offense. They’re learning that, with the strength of pitching today, it’s difficult to string together hits and work in runs. A home run erases that difficulty.
While this does lead to almost every player being able to hit the long ball (the formerly impressive plateau of 30 in a season seems pedestrian now), some stand out more than others. Here they are, in no particular order:
Nelson Cruz, RF/DH, Minnesota Twins
No one has hit more home runs in the length of Cruz’s career than Cruz. Since 2009, Cruz has knocked 395 pitches out of the park. That includes 41 in his age 38 seasons in 2019. He’s got the fourth-most home runs among active players all-time. The others, including Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, and Edwin Encarnacion, haven’t displayed the longevity that Cruz has. Those three have experienced the age falloff that Cruz has yet to experience.
J.D. Martinez, RF/DH, Boston Red Sox
Martinez, like a lot of players, struggled in the COVID-19 altered 2020 season, hitting just seven home runs across the 60-game season. Don’t let that distract you, though, Martinez has been a prolific home run hitter for quite some time. From 2014-2019, he was 5th in the league with 217. He played several fewer games, though, than his counterparts and would rank 3rd with 221. He can hit, and I’m confident he’ll remind you next season.
Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
The name on this list you probably weren’t expecting was Suarez. However, in the last three seasons, he’s second with 98 home runs. He posted a whopping 49 home runs in 2019. Suarez also was among the league leaders in the COVID-shortened season last year with 15 home runs. He is one of just 17 total players to eclipse 15 home runs last season.
Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees
Judge, formerly the rookie home run leader, is usually among the league leaders in home runs when healthy. In 2017, he led the American League with 52 as a rookie. Last season, in the first 17 games (before injury) Judge was leading the league with nine long balls. He ranks 9th in home runs since entering the league in 2017, with 44 fewer games played than the next closest guy above him. His 115 puts him at 9th, but if he had played 500 (a rough average of everyone above him), that would put him atop the list with 144.
Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels
Speaking of home runs, that “next closest guy” I mentioned? Yeah, that’s Mike Trout. He’s played the second-fewest games out of the top nine home run hitters since 2017. If he played 500 games, he’d be blowing everyone else out of the water with 152; he’s third in the league with 297 since entering the league in 2012. There’s a lot of reasons to consider Trout the best player in the league; this is another one of them.