MLB fans live and die for the home run: no matter what the league says, we all love tape-measure dingers and raucous crowds celebrating them.
Forecasting who will be the home run leader in 2022 is a difficult task, given the number of premier sluggers in the game at the moment.
Ronald Acuna Jr. already has a 40-homer year under his belt and is a good bet to finish in the National League’s top five; Aaron Judge set the world on fire as a rookie in 2017 and hit 52 homeruns; Giancarlo Stanton had 59 in the same year with the Miami Marlins; and Shohei Ohtani had a historic season in 2021, hitting 46 dingers.
However, they may not be the favorites.
Here are the three most obvious candidates to pace MLB in taters in 2022.
3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was, for years, at the top of prospects lists.
Scouts always loved his hitting ability and power potential.
However, during his first two seasons in the majors, he didn’t deliver on that future projection and finished with disappointing power numbers.
Before the 2021 season, however, he stayed in shape and he worked a lot on his swing, trying to lift the ball more.
The results were marvelous, as he led the majors in home runs last year, with 48, and is perfectly capable of doing it again.
He is one of the few sluggers equipped to have a high batting average, and is one of the premier offensive weapons in MLB.
Guerrero Jr. is here to stay.
2. Pete Alonso
The Polar Bear is as powerful as they come: he surpassed Judge’s record for a rookie in 2019, hitting 53 bombs and establishing a new mark.
A true Home Run Derby king, Alonso also has incredible game power and is a solid bet to be among the leaders in all the power categories in 2022.
Last year, Alonso knocked 37 balls out of the park for the New York Mets, in 152 games.
He now has 106 career home runs in 370 games, an impressive ratio.
His swing is geared for power, and while he won’t post the highest batting averages, that doesn’t matter for this particular exercise.
Here's Pete Alonso's rookie record-tying 52nd homer, which also gave him 119 RBI on the season. He's five away from matching the Mets' franchise record, shared by Mike Piazza and David Wright.pic.twitter.com/8wuAhN6xtL
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 27, 2019
Alonso has become the Mets’ premier power threat and one of the most impressive sluggers in MLB.
1. Fernando Tatis Jr.
Tatis Jr. could have led MLB in round-trippers in 2021 if he hadn’t missed 32 games, mainly while battling a shoulder subluxation.
He hit 42 anyway, enough to rank fifth, and should start the season healthy, locked, and loaded.
Tatis is in a league of his own: it’s not easy to hit 42 home runs in just 130 games, and he was limited by his troublesome shoulder in most of those contests.
He doesn’t have the prototypical slugger’s body, but with quick hips and explosive wrists, he generates easy power to all fields.
— MLB (@MLB) September 5, 2020
He also happens to be one of the single most exciting players in MLB, so fans want him to take the home run crown in 2022.
With better health, we can imagine him busting out this upcoming season: 50 homeruns are not out of the question.