2022 Category Breakdown: Home Runs

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

HRs dropped by 729 to 5215, a 12% decline from 2021.

The league SLG fell to .395, the first time below .400 since 2014.

Aaron Judge led the league with 62 HRs, easily outpacing the NL leader, Kyle Schwarber, and his 46.

Two other players hit 40+ with Mike Trout and Pete Alonso (40 each) joining Judge and Schwarber, giving us four hitters with 40+ HRs, down from the five in 2021.

Six players hit 35-39: Austin Riley (38), Yordan Alvarez (37), Christian Walker (36), Paul Goldschmidt (35), Mookie Betts (35), Rowdy Tellez (35). Down from 14 in 2021.

13 players hit 30-34: Shohei Ohtani (34), Matt Olson (34), Corey Seager (33), Anthony Santander (33), Manny Machado (32), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (32), Anthony Rizzo (32), Willy Adames (31), Eugenio Suarez (31), Giancarlo Stanton (31), Nolan Arenado (30), Kyle Tucker (30), Rhys Hoskins (30). Down from 24 in 2021.

22 players hit 25-29 (not going to list all of them, figured it was worth highlighting the 30+ guys, though). Down from 27 in 2021.

26 players hit 20-24. Down from 32 in 2021.

All told, we lost 31 hitters in the 20+ HR group, dropping from 102 in 2021 to 71 this year.

In the 10-19 HR class, there was an 11 player jump from 2021 with 133 reaching that mark this year.

There were 5 guys who hit 30+ HR in the 400-599 PA range: Trout, Alvarez, Tellez, Rizzo, and Stanton. Looking at the 600 PA pace doubles this group with Cal Raleigh (hit 27; 39 per 600 PA), Hunter Renfroe (29; 33), Joc Pederson (23; 32), Julio Rodriguez (28; 30) and Brandon Drury (28; 30) joining the party.

If the 200-399 PA player group got 600 PA, we’d have seen 10 new 30+ HR hitters: Byron Buxton (28; 44), Albert Pujols (24; 41), Danny Jansen (15; 36), Jazz Chisholm Jr. (14; 35), Joey Meneses (13; 33), William Contreras (20; 32), Isaac Paredes (20; 31), Jack Suwinski (19; 31), Trayce Thompson (13; 31).

Obviously, there are limitations with this exercise as some of these guys just won’t ever get 600 PA for any number of reasons, but also the simple fact that 200-399 PA is a pretty small sample that can have a lot of noise in it so extrapolating it and taking that number at face value is dangerous. Paredes, for example, has some intriguing pop but he also managed 3 multi-HR games (3, 2, 2) and was completely all or nothing v. righties: .196/.297/.404 with 13 HR in 276 PA. He could improve and make himself a 600 PA guy, but as-is I don’t see the Rays committing to him every day.

There are some standouts I’d like to highlight:

I think Jansen (15; 36) finds his way out of Toronto as they focus on Alejandro Kirk and Gabriel Moreno, but he needs to find some health to maximize the skills we have seen from him the last two seasons: .243/.321/.496, 26 HR, 72 RBI, 66 R, 19% K, and 9% BB in 453 PA. I’m willing to bet on the skills of the 28-year-old.

Jake Fraley (12; 29) was someone I really liked coming into the season given the excellent park upgrade after being traded from Seattle to Cincinnati. A long-term knee injury limited him to 68 games, though he was able to show a lot of the upside in that time, posting a .259/.344/.468 line with 12 HR and 4 SB in 247 PA. His plate skills (22% K, 11% BB) flattened a bit which made sense as his 17% BB in 2021 felt inflated due to an almost passive approach that also helped push his K rate up to 27% K despite his solid 10% SwStr. His 0.48 BB/K is still strong and firmly above the 0.36 league average. I still think there is big upside here as he should retain a full-time role heading into 2023 and hold it as long as his body allows (4 IL stints since 2020).

The Cardinals had three young standouts in rookies Juan Yepez (12; 26) and Nolan Gorman (14; 27) as well as 2nd-year fan favorite Lars Nootbaar (14; 24). Gorman went off in May, Yepez in June, and Nootbaar in July and August so the Cards regularly had a young bat supporting their superstar core. Yepez and Gorman fell out of favor down the stretch, both getting sent to the minors and Yepez suffering a forearm injury in mid-July. There is a path for all three to start in 2023, but Nootbaar is probably the most certain right now. He batted 1st/2nd in the final week and led off both playoff games.

There could be some hope for Pirates with four notable bats emerging in this exercise with three rookies – Oneil Cruz (17; 28), Jack Suwinski (19; 31), and Diego Castillo (11; 23) – as well as second year switch-hitter Rodolfo Castro (11; 24). Cruz and Suwinski led the Pirates in ISO at .218 and .209, respectively, but both have an all-or-nothing approach (>30% K, sub-.300 OBP) that will need to be reined in for them to breakout. Castillo and Castro struck out less, but still too much (both at 27%) while also posting sub-.300 OBPs. Cruz and Castro would’ve posted a double-double in 600 PA with 18 and 11 SB paces, respectively.

Is there value in a category rundown like this? If so, I’d be open to doing ones for a group of counting categories (R, RBI, SB, Ks, not Ws & SVs, sorry!). I figured the write-ups on players with some power upside would give it some forward-looking value as opposed to being solely a review app. Let me know what you think in the comments, even if it’s not for you that’s more than OK to share, too!

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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3 months ago

Oneil Cruz’s splits are intriguing – if you buy that his September/October stats (29.8% K, .359 OBP) represent a real adjustment to major league pitching, he’s already started to breakout.