The 10 Best Power Hitters in Baseball Right Now
From the day Babe Ruth burst on the scene as baseball's first true slugger to the infamous "Chicks Dig the Long Ball" commercial in the late 90s, fans have been infatuated with home runs and the hitters that generate the most power with their mighty hacks.
Although strikeouts are at an all-time high and a wave of powerful, dynamic young pitching has taken over the sport, there are still plenty of big-time home run hitters around the game.
If you're looking for power, the following players should be atop your must-see list.
Here are the 10 best power hitters in baseball right now:
1. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Career ISO (Isolated Power): .276
Career HR: 96
2013 home runs: 3
Only five hitters in the history of baseball have hit more than Stanton's 93 long balls by the end of their age-22 season. Those names: Mel Ott, Eddie Matthews, Alex Rodriguez, Tony Congiliaro and Frank Robinson.
As Stanton was progressing through the Marlins' system, he was compared to Dave Winfield because of his build, athletic ability and power. On his path to 465 career home runs, Winfield had 23 by the age of 22.
2. Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves
Career ISO: .206
Career HR: 120
2013 HR: 12
Free from expectations and shackles in Arizona, Upton is on his way to fulfilling the potential that scouts expected of him out of high school. The swing and power have always been there, but now he looks poised to pass his career high in home runs (31) by mid-summer.
At 25 years old, Upton is likely moving into his prime and gaining strength by the year. The jockeying for the top spot on this list could go back and forth between NL East outfield rivals for years to come.
3. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Career ISO: .232
Career HR: 31
2013 HR: 9
A year ago today, Bryce Harper had exactly six at-bats against big league pitching, tallying one RBI and a double. At the age of 19, the sky was the limit for the Nationals rookie, and our expectations endless.
Fast forward to the present: Not only has Harper lived up to the hype, he's actually exceeded it. Considering that his physical strength will only increase, plate discipline will become more refined and swing more compact and explosive, Harper's path is leading him to be one of the biggest power threats in generations.
4. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
Career ISO: .235
Career HR: 190
2013 HR: 7
Heading into the 2010 season, Jose Bautista owned a career slugging percentage of .400. To put that into perspective, that number roughly made him a Tim Wallach clone. Certainly not a horrible player, but no one that would every be listed with a group of the game's best power hitters.
Since the start of the 2010 campaign, in one of the greatest stretches in baseball history, Bautista hasn't just improved by leaps and bounds, he's transformed himself into one of the best power hitters in the sport.
Despite missing 70 games in 2012, the Blue Jay slugger has smashed 131 home runs over the last three-plus seasons. Over that time, his slugging percentage is a mind-boggling .590. In other words, he's basically pulled a Mark McGwire imitation out of nowhere.
Not bad for a guy that wasn't good enough for the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates.
5. Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angles
Career ISO: .240
Career HR: 163
2013 HR: 2
Don't let an early season slump make you forget how great of a power hitter Hamilton has become.
If anything, he's streaky at the plate. Eventually, his bat will breakout for the Angels, providing them the power they need to make up for a below-average pitching staff.
While leaving Texas could zap some of his power (career slugging percentage is 100 points higher in Arlington than Los Angeles), there are few ballparks that can hold a well struck ball of his bat.
At the age of 31, he's likely about to decline, limiting how long he'll be a part of this list. For now though, he's a great power hitter.
6. Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
Career ISO: .218
Career HR: 86
2013 HR: 9
Considering his inability to find regular playing time, make consistent contact or find an everyday defensive position, it wouldn't have been crazy to assume that Davis' 33-homer, .501 slugging campaign of 2012 would go down as the best season of his career.
A month into the 2013 season, Davis is on pace to blow away those numbers. At the age of 27, he's coming into his prime and looking like baseball's next star. Dating back to last September, he has hit 19 home runs in his last 195 at-bats. That's a long ball once every 10.2 at-bats.
Impressed? You should be. Over the last 11 years of Barry Bonds' career, he hit a home run every 10 at-bats.
7. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Career ISO: .256
Career HR: 209
2013 HR: 7
At times, Braun's all-around game trumps how great of a power hitter he has been since the day he stepped into Milwaukee's lineup in 2007.
His career .313 batting average shows the kind of pure hitter he has been. The 127 stolen bases show his speed and base running ability. Two hundred and twenty seven doubles prove that he's not just a slugger that hits home runs.
Yet his consistency in the home run department is astounding.
Braun has hit at least 25 home runs in every season of his career, more than 30 in five of six full seasons, including a career high of 41 in 2012.
If he stays healthy and free of suspension, he is a lock to hit the 500-home run mark.
8. Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
Career ISO: .209
Career HR: 168
2013 HR: 9
Despite posting a .801 OPS through his age-25 season, the Cincinnati Reds moved on from Encarnacion after a poor first half in 2009.
As Toronto provided him with at-bats and opportunity to grow as a player, he rewarded the faith in 2011, blasting 42 home runs en route to becoming one of the most valuable first basemen in the American League.
Much like his teammate, Jose Bautista, his power surge does not seem to be a fluke. With nine homers entering May, the Blue Jay first baseman has picked up where he left off in the middle of Toronto's order.
9. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees
Career ISO: .230
Career HR: 210
2013 HR: 0 (injured)
Despite hitting 108 home runs during his three years in New York, Granderson has always seemed reluctant to call himself a power hitter.
We'll do it for him.
With a swing perfectly tailored for Yankee Stadium, Granderson doesn't fit the profile of a big slugger, but his results prove that's exactly the role he has assumed.
As an impending free agent, Granderson's agent would be wise to market him as not just an outfielder, but the premier power hitting center fielder in the sport.
10. Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians
Career ISO: .243
Career HR: 189
2013 HR: 8
What we definitely know: Mark Reynolds strikes out an awful lot. Over the course of his career, the right-handed slugger has whiffed 1,144 times.
In a different era, against different pitchers and challenges, Ted Williams only struck out 709 times in 19 seasons.
In the understatement of the week: Reynolds isn't Williams.
However, due to incredible home run power and a sterling eye at the plate, he's a productive and underrated offensive player.
Heading into play on Wednesday night, Reynolds owns a career .813 OPS. That number is higher than the career marks of Cal Ripken, Andre Dawson, Matt Williams, Adrian Beltre, Gary Carter, Miguel Tejada, Robin Yount and a slew of players generally considered superior to Reynolds.
One of baseball's best sluggers is actually one of the more underrated hitters in a long, long time.
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