MLB

MLB Betting: Who Will Hit the Most Home Runs in 2023?

Scott Edwards Jr.
Scott Edwards Jr.@ScottEdwardsJr

As the MLB takes a break for All-Star festivities, it's a perfect time to look at what kind of season it's been and what may happen next.

While many major statistics of yesteryear have become somewhat obsolete compared to the new advanced metrics, one stat that will always remain important is the home-run ball.

So far, through the first half of the year (and then some), the home-run race has heated up more and more.

Here's a look at the top 10 in home-run leader odds, per the MLB odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Player
Odds
Shohei Ohtani-125
Matt Olson+230
Pete Alonso+800
Mookie Betts+1700
Kyle Schwarber+2700
Luis Robert+3100
Ronald Acuna+6500
View Full Table

Let's break down the top five and look at their rest-of-season (ROS) projections.

ZiPS (ROS) and Steamers (ROS) projections from FanGraphs.

Shohei Ohtani, Angels

FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: -125

Home Runs: 32

Shohei Ohtani is your odds-on favorite to lead baseball in dingers after an incredible June that saw the Japanese superstar hit 15 (!) home runs in one month, which resulted in Ohtani getting to 32 homers for the season.

The 32 home runs put Ohtani 3 jacks ahead of anyone else, and he's currently just one homer behind Aaron Judge's pace from a year ago when Judge broke the American League home run record.

But can the two-way stud keep it going?

Ohtani has a number of career-best marks through the halfway point, and one of those is his 40.9% fly-ball rate. His Statcast barrel rate isn't as high as it was in 2021 -- 22.3% compared to 18.3% -- but his hard-hit percentage is right there at 51.5%, signaling that every other at-bat is seeing him drive the ball to all parts of the field.

Both ZiPS and Steamer have Ohtani projected to hit 18 home runs the remainder of the way, and both projection systems have Ohtani finishing as the home-run leader. The way Ohtani has been going, it's tough to pick against him, but he does bring more injury risk to the table than the other guys due to his pitching workload.

Matt Olson, Braves

FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +230

Home Runs: 29

When people talk about the Atlanta Braves, the names Ronald Acuna and Spencer Strider, get brought up a lot -- and for good reason as those two may go home with the NL MVP and Cy Young awards at the end of 2023. But there's no doubt that Matt Olson should be getting a lot of publicity for what he's been able to do this season.

When the Braves went out of their way to replace Freddie Freeman by trading for Olson, they knew the type of player he could be. He's always shown great power numbers, but Olson has never been better than he has been through the first half of this campaign.

Olson has 29 home runs already, which is only 10 fewer than his single-season career-high. With Olson being considered one of the best power bats in the league, it's almost unbelievable to think that he hasn't hit the 40-homer plateau in his career. This season feels like the year where he breaks through.

The Braves' first baseman has the best fly-ball percentage of his career (46.6%) while his 43.2% hard-hit rate is his highest since 2019.

ZiPS projects Olson for 18 home runs the rest of the year, keeping the home-run race interesting behind Ohtani but still trailing by 3 when it's all said and done. Steamer has Olson projected for 17 more taters, the third-most.

With Olson just three round-trippers back of Ohtani, his +230 number is pretty appealing.

Pete Alonso, Mets

FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +800

Home Runs: 26

Pete Alonso is a two-time Home Run Derby winner, and he's going to need to tap into that power in the second half to catch up.

Alonso led the league in home runs back in his rookie season (2019) with 53 big flies. He currently has 26 to his name, setting him up to potentially hit the most he's had in a single season since his rookie year.

The thing to know when it comes to considering betting on Alonso is this -- he's not driving the ball very well. Alonso has a Statcast hard-hit rate of 40.0%, the lowest of his career. He does, however, own a 14.8% barrel rate, which is the best mark of his career.

ZiPS and Steamer have the same outlook for Alonso as they did for fellow first baseman Olson, projecting him at 18 (ZiPS) and 17 (Steamer) home runs for the remainder of the season. Alonso is going to need to outdo Ohtani by seven home runs the rest of the way to surpass the two-way superstar, which is a tall task if Ohtani says healthy.

Mookie Betts, Dodgers

FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +1700

Home Runs: 26

Whenever a former MVP is having a career-best season, you should be paying attention. That's what Mookie Betts is doing right now for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The right-fielder -- who has also been utilized at second base and shortstop -- has been a different player this season in all the best ways. Betts may never replicate his 2018 MVP season, but he doesn't have to. He's a different player now, and it's resulted in what can only be considered his best year since then.

There were plenty of jokes made by Betts during his entry into the Home Run Derby as to why he had zero chance of winning, but even though Betts isn't a prototypical slugger, his numbers this season rank him alongside the game's best power bats. Through 86 games, Betts has 26 home runs -- 9 off from his career high of 35.

Many of his numbers are his highest clips in a few seasons, including his hard-hit rate. Not counting the 60-game 2020 season, Betts' 44.0% hard-hit rate is his best mark since 2018.

He's never been the kind of player to bring league-best power numbers, but his fly-ball rate is at 49.1%, the sixth-highest in the majors and the very best of his career. If he's ever going to lead the league in homers, this is the year to do it.

The projections for the rest of the season don't favor Betts as both systems see him falling behind the three aforementioned guys. ZiPS and Steamer have Betts at 15 home runs from here on out. That would give him a career-best 41 homers, but that almost surely won't be enough to lead the league.

Kyle Schwarber, Phillies

FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: +2700

Home Runs: 22

Kyle Schwarber has mostly underwhelmed in 2023, but his past performance and name recognition keep him in the conversation.

As we've seen over the past few seasons, no one can heat up like Schwarber. When the Philadelphia Phillies' outfielder gets hot, there's no stopping him. June has become his signature month, but he hit just eight home runs in June this year as opposed to reaching double-digit June homers in each of the past two seasons.

Schwarber has struggled for the majority of the season, and with Schwarber 10 dingers behind Ohtani, it's going to take a lot for the Phillies' slugger to cash in this market -- which is why his odds are +2700.

He'll need a crazy turnaround because his batted-ball numbers don't look all that great. The hard-hit rate for Schwarber is 36.4%, the lowest it's been since the 2017 season. He is lifting the ball with a 46.0% fly-ball rate, but if the ball isn't being driven, it probably won't leave the yard.

A surge is coming, according to ZiPS and Steamer, as both projection systems have Schwarber hitting 17 homers for the remainder of the season. That would put Schwarber on the cusp of a 40-homer campaign, but considering he's 10 behind Ohtani, Schwaber needs to do something really special post-break to get into this race.


The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.