The Candidates To Bust Balboni’s Record
Mike Moustakas—to me, Moose is the clear favorite to break the team home run record in 2017. Moustakas led all of minor-league baseball 36 blasts at age 21 in 2010 (across AA and AAA). He’s got the right batted ball profile in that he’s a natural pull hitter. He’s learned how to take pitchers the opposite way to prevent them from pounding the outside corner against him.
As a result, Moose has slammed 5, 7, and 7 home runs in his last three full months of play. Double that to get to a full season, and he’s been on pace to blast 38 home runs.
Of course, Moustakas tore his anterior cruciate ligament (knee) last season and will have to come back healthy to challenge the record. While hitting 37 or more home runs would be a big jump from his career-high of 22 set in 2015, Moose has the chops to do it. He’ll also play most of next season for the KC Royals at age 28, which puts him right in his prime seasons.
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Eric Hosmer—Hoz hit a career-high 25 dingers in 2016. But, the problem is he hit 58.9% of his batted balls on the ground. It’s hard to see him hit enough balls in the air to put 12 more over the fence in 2017. However, Hosmer hits the ball hard enough. He ranked 14th in average exit velocity among all major-league hitters in 2016. Notice that 15 players hit more than 37 home runs last season.
Clearly, Eric Hosmer has enough boost to eclipse Balboni’s mark. He just needs to make some kind of an adjustment that keeps the ball out of the dirt. At age 27, he’s in his prime plus in he’s in his walk year. He’s got every incentive to put up a big season.