Over the course of a long MLB season, it can be a fool’s game to try and use “on-pace” statistics to figure out whether a player is living up to expectations, underperforming them, or doing just about right. That is especially true for thinking about whether a player will be able to reach a certain milestone based on how far away from said milestone they were before the season. For MLB home run futures, that’s a big consideration.
In this piece, we’ll look at a few big-name players who prior to the 2022 season — seemed to be well within striking distance of significant home run-related achievements but, due to injuries or other factors, just haven’t been slugging as well as expected.
Some of the bigger underachievers are on the most disappointing MLB teams while others are still having good seasons overall but they have been lacking in the power department. Let’s take a look.
When Freddie Freeman was essentially pushed from the Atlanta Braves and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers this past offseason, there were some questions about how the 32-year-old would fare in a new city with a loaded supporting cast around him. The answer is pretty good as Freeman is having a trademark great season that is close to in line with his previous yearly outputs. A .306/.388/.486 slash line — translating to a .874 OPS and 141 OPS+ — will play in any lineup.
Interestingly, though, Freeman hasn’t been all that impressive in terms of home runs and the chances of him getting to 300 career dingers by the end of the season are looking very low. He entered the year at 271 home runs in his illustrious career and with his personal MLB home run futures over/under set at 31.5, the odds had him as likely to reach that total. A “yes” bet on Freddie getting to 300 in 2022 was -130. But, now, with him sitting at just eight home runs through half the season, it would take a miraculously powerful stretch for him to knock 21 more long balls.
He’s an example of someone who is playing well but has probably been hurt by both a home stadium change, it’s not easy to hit it out of Dodger Stadium – as well as a situation change in that he simply doesn’t need to hit for power as much in such a loaded Los Angeles lineup. 300 homers might have to wait another year.
It was somewhat surprising when Kris Bryant decided to sign with the non-contending Colorado Rockies in the fall, agreeing to a seven-year, $182 million contract. After a solid 2021 campaign split between the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants, Bryant rebuilt his value a bit and it seemed like playing at Coors Field would be a great boon for his quest to reach 200 home runs as a 30-year-old.
Bryant started the year 33 homers away from 200 and, after just about half the regular season, Bryant…is still 33 away. He, shockingly, has yet to hit a home run as a Rockie, in large part due to how he has only played 20 games due to injury. Still, Bryant’s Denver tenure has gotten off to a rough start as he has just four RBIs and a .657 OPS.
Granted, Bryant was only a +140 bet before the season to get to 200 long balls in 2022 with “no” being -180. Still, it’s stunning just how far away he is from that number. Prior to this season, in all five years in which he has played 140+ games in his career, Bryant hit 23 or more home runs. Of course, you can’t predict injuries, but there was good reason to think he could have 30+ at altitude in Denver. Plus, Bryant’s over/under MLB home run futures was 29.5 which is all but impossible right now. A disappointing year all around.
We’ll finish up with an all-time great who is wrapping up his incredible career this season. When the St. Louis Cardinals signed Albert Pujols before the season, it was presumably a move made to give the Cardinals a solid DH option. But, in reality, it was clear that St. Louis wanted him to get his 700th home run in red-and-white.
If you’re betting on MLB games, taking Pujols to get to 700 wouldn’t have been a bad bet. He entered the year at 679, just 21 homers away from one of the sport’s most exclusive clubs. However, Pujols’ physical decline has been apparent and he only has four home runs in 136 plate appearances. It would take a stunning resurgence for Pujols to knock 17 dingers out in the Cardinals’ final 80 and, with him firmly announcing his retirement, the dream of 700 is fading away.Follow us on Twitter