While rate stats are growing in importance in the eyes of MLB Hall of Fame voters every day, that doesn’t mean totals go unnoticed.
And reaching 500 home runs remains one of the greatest achievements for a hitter, because it means continually supplying power through the years and staying healthy to do so.
It’s an impressive feat, one that few players have accomplished in the history of MLB.
These young stars are already taking over the league, and while it’s premature to talk about them as potential 500-homer batters, they can very well reach the milestone when all is said and done.
3. Fernando Tatis Jr.
San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is on the fast track to 500 home runs.
At the moment, projections have the uber-talented hitter easily surpassing the number, as he is still 22 (he will be 23 by the time 2022 Opening Day rolls) and already has 81 dingers.
He hit 42 in 2021 in just 130 games, and one has to think he will average close to 40 for a few more years.
If he hits 35 per year until he is 34, he will reach 500.
If his banged-up shoulder holds up, which is a feasible expectation given the fact he will have the entire offseason to rest it, that projection may actually be conservative.
If Tatis starts a sharp decline in his mid-30s, there is still a chance he reaches 600 home runs.
He is under contract for the next 13 seasons, as he will have ample time to add to his home run tally.
2. Ronald Acuna Jr.
Ronald Acuna Jr., the star of the Atlanta Braves, just turned 24 years old, and hasn’t even sniffed the age that the baseball universe has known as the “prime years”, between 27 and 30.
And guess what?
Acuna already has 105 home runs to his name.
He hit 26 in 111 games as a 20-year-old in 2018, then peaked at 41 the following year.
He hit 14 in 46 games during the shortened 2020 campaign, and added 24 in 82 2021 contests.
He should be good to go for the 2022 spring training after tearing his ACL in July, so one would expect him to approach or surpass 40 for several more years.
Acuna has explosive wrists and generates a lot of power with his swing, and barring a serious health issue, he could reach 500 by the time he is 35 or 36.
— MLB (@MLB) April 15, 2021
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
After changing his swing path before the 2021 season, Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. finally delivered on his immense potential, and would have been the easy MVP choice if it wasn’t for Shohei Ohtani’s historic campaign.
He has 72 career home runs, but is the youngest of the trio of “Juniors”.
He will play the 2022 season as a 23-year-old, and now that we know he has 40-homer game power (he hit 48 in 2021, so it’s really 45-homer power), we know that he should be able to surpass 500 at some point in the future.
His father hit 449 homers in his playing career, but the son could leapfrog him within the next 10-12 years and reach 500 in his mid-to-late thirties if his health holds up.
If vlad keeps doing that he could hit 500 homers by the time he is 32 if he stays healthy he will be interesting to follow
— Jonathan Hamilton (@John18Hamilton) November 6, 2021
That’s a conservative projection: if he keeps hitting 45 per year, he could be one of the youngest players ever to reach 500 dingers.