Home runs are always going to get a lot of attention in Major League Baseball. When it comes to the top five players who will probably lead the league in homers this year, it should come as no surprise that the big guys play in the American League, although honorable mention goes to Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez and the Arizona duo of Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo.
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
The two-time reigning AL MVP has hit at least 30 homers in seven of his nine MLB seasons. Cabrera (6-1 at Bovada) also led the majors in homers in 2012 while finishing second last year. Even though Prince Fielder is now in Texas, Cabrera should have enough protection around him that he’ll get good pitches to hit. A lack of protection is probably the only way he won’t have a chance to hit 40-plus homers this season. At 30, Cabrera could be in his prime right now.
Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
Bautista (12-1) surprised everyone in 2010, bopping 54 homers to lead the majors. Then, he did it again with 43 in 2011. Since then, he has been slowed by injuries but has still put up solid home run numbers in relation to his number of at-bats. He is 33 years old, so that is a concern, as is his injury history. However, Bautista plays in a park conducive to his power-hitting style, and if he can stay healthy, another 40-homer season is a definite possibility.
Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Davis (6-1) was last year’s version of Bautista, leading the majors with 53 homers. It wasn’t completely out of the blue, as he did hit 33 in 2012. While he might not hit 50 this year, playing in hitter-friendly Camden Yards will keep him among the league leaders. He’s just 28 years old and has looked good in spring training. The potential for a huge contract in the future combined with a desire to prove naysayers wrong (those who think he’s a fluke) could be the perfect motivation for Davis. Don’t be surprised if he leads the league again.
Prince Fielder, Texas Rangers
There is concern about Fielder (12-1), as his home run numbers have declined over the last three seasons. He hit just 25 last year in Detroit. But Fielder should have a chip on his shoulder, as he was traded after just two seasons and ridiculed for a few postseason gaffes. He’s now in a park where fly balls turn to home runs rather easily — especially when it gets really hot in Arlington. Fielder turns 30 in May and could have a couple of big seasons coming up.
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
Encarnacion (25-1) was tied for third in the majors last season with 36 homers, following a 42-homer season in 2012. He is 31 years old and definitely still has some power left in him. However, he’ll have to overcome some early wrist issues. Wrists pains are tricky, as those could linger throughout the season and affect a hitter’s numbers. However, if he is healthy, playing in one of the league’s most home run-friendly ballparks with lineup protection from Bautista definitely will keep Encarnacion in contention.