These are the current home run leaders in either league:
In the AL, Miguel Cabrera and Josh Hamilton are household names (maybe), but the rest are some real head-scratchers, especially league leader Jose Bautista (BALCO All-Star alert?). The NL is no different. Perennial best player in baseball Albert Pujols isn't even in the top 5 right now this year. Ryan Howard is missing. So is Prince Fielder.
To put the change taking place in baseball's home run hierarchy into perspective, here's the list of last year's leaders:
The NL leaders in particular read as a who's-who of baseball's biggest sluggers. Only Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Reynolds make the cut this season.
Here's a list of players, all of them big names, who haven't hit the ball with the same authority this year:
It's depressing to see that Tex and A-Rod have seen the sharpest decline from their career power numbers, but, to the extent that misery loves company, they're not alone on that list. Many of baseball's biggest names have suffered from an unforseen power outage this year.
Jason Bay only has 4 homers so far this year. Joe Mauer has totally dropped off from his MVP form. He's batting only .309 and has only 3 bombs after hitting 28 in limited duty in 2009. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder combined for the deadliest 3-4 punch in the NL last season. This year Nick Swisher is out-slugging both of them.
Aside from Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols is the biggest name on the list. Make no mistake, Phat Albert is having a great season. He's on pace for 30 homers and 100 RBI. His OBP is .428. But his power numbers are down, materially. The difference between a hitter with a .624 SLG and a .549 is the difference between a player competing to be the best hitter in baseball, and one who's in the top ten.
None of this excuses Alex and Tex. The only reason the Yankees have a 2 game lead on the division, instead of a 10-game lead, is because these two are having bad seasons. But they're not alone. Many of baseball's biggest names have been knocked down a peg or two thus far in 2010.