Ranking Aaron Judge and the Top 10 Power Hitters of the 2022-23 MLB Free-Agent Class

Joel ReuterOctober 28, 2022

Ranking Aaron Judge and the Top 10 Power Hitters of the 2022-23 MLB Free-Agent Class

0 of 11

    NEW YORK, NY - JULY 31: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees at bat against the Kansas City Royals during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium on July 31, 2022 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Royals won 8-6. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
    Adam Hunger/Getty Images

    One of the greatest power hitters in MLB history is set to hit the open market this offseason as Aaron Judge tests the free-agency waters for the first time in his career.

    For teams looking to add a power bat this winter, he's far and away the biggest prize, but he's not the only upcoming free agent capable of launching balls into the stands.

    We've ranked the top 10 power hitters of the upcoming free-agent class. Just to make things interesting, we've included landing spots and contract predictions for each of them.

    Players are ranked solely on expected power production, so things like contact ability, defensive value, speed and earning power were not factors.

    Let's start with some honorable mentions who just missed the cut.

    Also check out: Ranking Jacob deGrom and the Top 10 Starting Pitchers of 2022-23 MLB Free-Agent Class

Honorable Mentions

1 of 11

    Gary Sanchez
    Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    These players didn't crack our top 10, but they could still be a major factor in a team's 2023 offense.

    Xander Bogaerts (30): Bogaerts will be one of the top players on the market if he exercises the opt-out in his contract. With a .456 slugging percentage and 15 home runs, he was not a major power threat in 2022, but he does have a 33-homer season.

    Nelson Cruz (42): Cruz has a $16 million mutual option for 2023. Assuming the Nationals decline their end, he'll be searching for a new home once again. He hit just 10 home runs in 507 plate appearances in 2022, leaving him 41 shy of 500.

    Adam Duvall (34): Duvall has three 30-homer seasons, including a 38-homer, 113-RBI season in 2021. However, he hit just .213/.276/.401 with 12 home runs in 86 games before wrist surgery ended his season in July.

    Trey Mancini (30): Mancini hit just .176 with a 75 OPS+ in 51 games after the Baltimore Orioles traded him to the Houston Astros ahead of the Aug. 2 deadline, but he was a consistent run producer during his time in Baltimore. That includes a 35-homer season in 2019.

    J.D. Martinez (35): During the three-year stretch from 2017 through 2019, Martinez averaged 41 home runs and 113 RBI as one of baseball's best power hitters. He was still productive this season with a 117 OPS+ in 596 plate appearances, but he hit just 16 home runs and has gap power more than over-the-fence power at this point in his career.

    Gary Sanchez (29): Sanchez has his shortcomings defensively, and he hit under .210 for the third straight season in 2022, but he has always been a source of power. He hit 16 home runs in 471 plate appearances, and he had a pair of 30-homer seasons during his time with the Yankees.

    Dansby Swanson (28): Swanson has averaged 26 home runs and 92 RBI the past two seasons, taking his offensive game to another level just in time to hit the open market. That might be his ceiling in power production, but it's enough to earn him an honorable mention.

    Trea Turner (29): A legitimate five-tool talent, Turner has always had sneaky power to go along with his top-of-the-scale speed. He tallied 39 doubles, 21 home runs and 100 RBI in 2022 and spent part of the season hitting No. 3 in the lineup.

    Mike Zunino (31): Zunino was one of the biggest surprises of the 2021 season, slugging 33 home runs and posting a 136 OPS+ as he earned his first All-Star selection. He hit just .148 with five home runs in 36 games this year before undergoing thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in July, and he'll be an intriguing buy-low target this winter.

10. 1B Josh Bell

2 of 11

    SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 19: Josh Bell #24 of the San Diego Padres watches his home run ball in the second inning of Game 2 of the NLCS between the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on Wednesday, October 19, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
    Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

    Age: 30

    A switch-hitter with a 37-homer, 116-RBI season in 2019 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, first baseman Josh Bell was enjoying the best season of his career with the Washington Nationals this year.

    He hit .301/.384/.493 with 14 home runs and 57 RBI in 103 games with the Nationals before they traded him to the San Diego Padres at the deadline, but he hit just .192 with a 75 OPS+ and three long balls in 210 plate appearances following the trade.

    His track record is strong enough for teams to overlook his rough final two months, though declines in his hard-hit rate (-11.2 percentage points) and average exit velocity (-3.6 mph) raise questions about his ability to return to elite power production.

    Prediction: Signs a four-year, $60 million deal with the Houston Astros.

9. SS Carlos Correa

3 of 11

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 13: Carlos Correa #4 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates his two-run home run as he rounds the bases against the Kansas City Royals in the fifth inning of the game at Target Field on September 13, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Royals 6-3. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
    David Berding/Getty Images

    Age: 28

    One of the top free agents on the market last offseason, Carlos Correa signed a massive three-year, $105.3 million deal that amounted to a one-year, $35.1 million contract as he is expected to opt out of the final two years of the deal.

    He has never reached 30 home runs in a season, but he was a consistent 20-homer threat in Houston, and he has averaged 28 homers and 101 RBI per 162 games in his career.

    He hit .291/.366/.467 for a 140 OPS+ with 22 home runs in 136 games this season. Given his age and consistent production, he can be counted on to provide a middle-of-the-order presence.

    Prediction: Signs an eight-year, $264 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

8. C Willson Contreras

4 of 11

    CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 20:  Willson Contreras of the Chicago Cubs celebrates a home run in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on August 20, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images)
    Matt Dirksen/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Over the past four years, Willson Contreras has averaged 30 home runs per 162 games, and he enjoyed his best all-around season at the plate in 2022.

    The three-time All-Star hit .243/.349/.466 for a career-high 128 OPS+ with 23 doubles, 22 home runs and 55 RBI, marking the fourth time in his seven-year career that he has eclipsed 20 home runs in a season.

    He is one of baseball's best offensive performers at a premium position, and that should help drive his value despite the risk that comes with signing a catcher in his 30s to a long-term deal.

    Prediction: Signs a five-year, $90 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

7. OF Joey Gallo

5 of 11

    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 25: Joey Gallo #12 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated after scoring a run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the third inning at Dodger Stadium on September 25, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Age: 28

    It's been a trying year and a half for Joey Gallo since the Texas Rangers traded him to the New York Yankees at the 2021 trade deadline, but he's not far removed from being an MVP candidate with the Rangers.

    He had a 138 OPS+ with 25 home runs and 4.2 WAR in 95 games at the time of his trade in 2021, but he has hit just .160/.288/.374 with 32 home runs and a 39.3 percent strikeout rate in 184 games since leaving Texas.

    The raw power that produced a pair of 40-homer seasons early in his career is still there, and no player in baseball may benefit more from the banning of the shift. He ranked among the MLB leaders in hard-hit rate (94th percentile) and barrel rate (98th percentile), making him one of the most intriguing buy-low targets of the year.

    Prediction: Signs a one-year, $10 million deal with the Texas Rangers.

6. 1B/3B Brandon Drury

6 of 11

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 30: Brandon Drury #17 of the San Diego Padres at bat against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on August 30, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Brandon Drury made good on a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds last spring and was one of the best bargains in baseball in 2022 on a one-year, $900,000 contract in the big leagues.

    The journeyman posted a 128 OPS+ with 22 doubles and 20 home runs in 92 games with the Reds before they traded him to the San Diego Padres at the deadline, and he finished with 28 homers and 87 RBI in a 2.6-WAR season.

    With the defensive versatility to handle first base, second base and third base, he is an easy fit on most contenders' rosters, and he could be one of the most sought-after players on the market.

    Prediction: Signs a three-year, $27 million deal with the San Diego Padres.

5. OF Mitch Haniger

7 of 11

    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 05: Mitch Haniger #17 of the Seattle Mariners looks on during the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at T-Mobile Park on October 05, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
    Steph Chambers/Getty Images

    Age: 31

    Injuries limited Mitch Haniger to 63 games in 2019 and cost him all of 2020, but he returned with a huge 2021 season when he posted a 122 OPS+ with 39 home runs and 100 RBI in 157 games.

    Staying on the field was an issue once again in 2022 as a high ankle sprain held him out for more than three months, but he returned in August and closed out the regular season with a 114 OPS+ and 11 home runs in 57 games.

    Teams might be hesitant to go beyond a one- or two-year deal given his injury history, but he could be a difference-maker in the middle of a team's lineup if he can stay healthy.

    Prediction: Signs a one-year, $10.5 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles.

4. 1B José Abreu

8 of 11

    OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Oakland Athletics in the top of the fifth inning at RingCentral Coliseum on September 10, 2022 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Age: 35

    First baseman José Abreu burst onto the scene in 2014 when he hit .317/.383/.581 with 36 home runs and 107 RBI. He has been a perennial 30-homer threat, including a 30-homer, 117-RBI campaign in 2021.

    That power seemingly dried up in 2022 when he hit .304/.378/.446 with 15 home runs and 75 RBI in 157 games, but his elite batted-ball metrics indicate that level of power production is still present.

    He ranked among the MLB leaders in average exit velocity (93rd percentile), hard-hit rate (97th percentile) and expected slugging percentage (92nd percentile). That's reason enough to believe another 30-homer season or two could be left in the tank.

    Prediction: Signs a two-year, $40 million deal with the Miami Marlins.

3. OF Joc Pederson

9 of 11

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 14: Joc Pederson #23 of the San Francisco Giants at bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Oracle Park on August 14, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    The San Francisco Giants signed Joc Pederson to a one-year, $6 million deal last offseason after his strong postseason run with the Atlanta Braves, and he wound up being one of the team's most productive offensive players.

    An All-Star for the first time since his rookie season in 2015, he posted a 144 OPS+ with a team-leading 23 home runs in 433 plate appearances, though his role remained limited to platoon duties against right-handed pitching.

    The lefty slugger saw just 57 plate appearances against left-handed pitching in 2022, and he is a career .211/.290/.333 hitter against southpaws. As long as a team has a viable platoon partner in place, he can be a significant offensive addition.

    Prediction: Signs a three-year, $42 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

2. 1B Anthony Rizzo

10 of 11

    Baseball: ALDS Playoffs: New York Yankees Anthony Rizzo (48) in action, runs the bases vs Cleveland Guardians at Yankee Stadium. Game 5. 
Bronx, NY 10/18/2022 
CREDIT: Erick W. Rasco (Photo by Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) 
(Set Number: X164207 TK1)
    Set Number: X164207 TK1

    Age: 33

    After a productive two months with the New York Yankees following a 2021 deadline trade, Anthony Rizzo returned to the Bronx on a one-year, $16 million deal that includes a matching player option for 2023 that he is expected to decline.

    The three-time All-Star matched his career high with 32 home runs in 2022—a mark he has reached three other times—and his 283 long balls rank 15th among active hitters.

    His 89.4 mph average exit velocity and 41.0 percent hard-hit rate were both above his career averages, and a similar average value with more long-term certainty likely awaits him.

    Prediction: Signs a two-year, $36 million deal with the New York Yankees.

1. OF Aaron Judge

11 of 11

    ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 31:  Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 31, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Was there any question who would be No. 1 on this list?

    Not only did he launch an AL-record 62 home runs in 2022 while staying healthy for the second year in a row, but Judge also lit up Statcast metrics to sit atop the MLB leaderboard in average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, barrel rate and expected slugging percentage.

    He bet on himself when he turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million extension offer at the end of spring training, and it'll pay off in a big way.

    The San Francisco Giants are expected to be the leading competition for the Yankees in their efforts to re-sign the prolific slugger, and they have the money to outbid anyone for his services.

    Prediction: Signs a 10-year, $400 million deal with the San Francisco Giants.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.