Mike Trout Deserves Consideration For This Non-MVP Player Prop

He's the favorite to win the AL MVP, but should also hit a lot of homers once again in 2020

Keith Allison, Flickr

Fret not, baseball fans! Spring training has commenced, the sun has begun to shine, and MLB will be back in full swing sooner than you can accurately recite Abbott & Costello’s Who’s on First? With a turbulent & shameful offseason, MLB and the rest of us are eager to turn the page over (not necessarily forgive) with the arrival of the 2020 season. And what is it that everyone (even the questionable non-baseball fans) loves about baseball? No, not the hot dogs, not the Cracker Jacks, not even the garlic fries: the towering home runs! 

Coming off the 2019 campaign wherein the single season total homerun record was (once again) raised to 6,776, the public is surely craving more. Luckily for us, this generation of MLB superstars packs some serious pop. In an age where the long ball is more frequent than ever, who will you be placing your money on to lead the majors in homers for the 2020 MLB regular season?

According to DraftKings, Mike Trout & Joey Gallo share the best odds  at +900. Following those two are Giancarlo Stanton and the reigning home run champion Pete Alonso (53 in his historic 2019 rookie season) at +1000. Cody Bellinger boasts the fifth-best odds, respectively, at +1600. Although any of these sluggers are more than capable to claim the homerun crown, do not deter from placing a bet on Aaron Judge at +1800, Nolan Arenado at +1800, or Christian Yelich at +2500.

Instinctively, it’s hard not to agree with DraftKings in their assumption that Trout will lead the majors in HRs. However, in attempt to best predict the upcoming season’s home run leader, this article will proceed by focusing on the three players with the most favorable odds (Trout, Gallo, Alonso), while considering 2019 advanced statistics from FanGraphs like ISO, hard hit % and fly ball %. 

We are now left with CF Mike Trout, LF/1B Joey Gallo, and 1B Pete Alonso: three ham & eggers that sure know how to tear the cover off a baseball.

ISO

For those unfamiliar with "ISO" (short for Isolated Power), it is basically the number left over when you subtract a player’s batting avg. from their slugging %, leaving you with a better representation of that player’s raw power capabilities. With that in mind, Mike Trout led all players last season with .353 ISO, followed by Christian Yelich and Nelson Cruz: somehow not very surprising. Although Gallo only played 70 games last season, he boasted an impressive ISO of .344, while Peter Alonso ranked fifth in ISO at .323. 

Point: Trout.

Hard-Hit %

Next up, we have “hard hit %”, with “fly ball %” on deck. Hard hit % is computed to better give a representation of a player’s likelihood of solid contact. This category was led by Nelson Cruz and Christian Yelich at 52.2% and 50.8%, respectively, and all the way down at 39th is Mike Trout (43.8%). Pete Alonso checks in at 54th with a hard hit % of 42.2, while Joey Gallo ripped 51.9% of pitches he connected with. Despite only playing half the season, this stat leans toward Texas.  

Point: Gallo.

Fly Ball %

One key reason we have seen such an influx on home runs in this modern epoch of baseball is hitters adjusting their launch (swing) angle in attempt to apply better lift on the ball; Fly ball % is a reliable representation of this. Led by Rhys Hoskins of the Philadelphia Phillies at 50.4% last year, Trout was second in MLB at 49.2%, Alonso was 29th at 42.2%, while Gallo put 47.2% of contacted pitches into the air. 

Point: Trout.

Your 2020 HR King Will Be...

Admittedly, this article only focuses on three HR-related statistics while many other factors will come into play through the season: a player’s durability, age, league, division, home ballpark etc. With all that considered, it’s easy to make the claim that Mike Trout (+900) could easily become the 2020 home run king with upside for 50-plus dingers.

But for you bettors, keep a keen eye on Yelich; he’s young, provides plenty of pop, plays (partially)indoors, and has significant upside in his odds at +2500.

One thing is for sure, however; April cannot come soon enough.

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