When discussing this year’s home run leader, perhaps it will be necessary to separate those naturally hit with the ones that were steroid assisted.
Which brings us to Barry Bonds. At 10-1, the future Hall of Famer ranks just fourth in the Caesars Palace list behind Alex Rodriguez (7-1), Albert Pujols (7-1) and Vladimir Guerrero (8-1).
San Francisco is embracing Bonds as never before due to all the endless media scrutiny over his alleged use of muscle enhancement drugs. We think Bonds is going to have a monster year, not only as a rebel, but because Moises Alou is the best player to hit behind him since Jeff Kent.
If you want a solid play, try Jim Thome. The Philadelphia first baseman (8-1) has blasted at least 30 homers nine straight years and exceeded 42 each of the last four. His career best 52 in 2002 would certainly put him right there.
Rodriguez and Guerrero are certainly at the top of the homer list, but each would be better choices to lead in the RBI race, along with Pujols.
A good sleeper pick is Sammy Sosa (12-1), who could hit 60 again at Camden Yards. The new surroundings in Baltimore, coupled with hitting between Miguel Tejada and Rafael Palmeiro, could be just the energy Sammy needs to re-capture the status he enjoyed when chasing Mark McGwire a few years back.
A couple of injury casualties from last year have new ballclubs and plenty of upside this season. Troy Glaus (25-1) has looked good so far for Arizona and is the key to the D’backs fortunes in the NL West. Richie Sexson (18-1) held that honor last year in Arizona, but went down early and now is in Seattle. Sexson, if he can play 140 games, can hit 50 easy and would be a great play.
Ken Griffey Jr (35-1) always deserves consideration. With Junior, it’s always a matter of health. He was having a nice bounce-back season last year until finally going down to injury for the fourth consecutive season. Still, Griffey and Adam Dunn (8-1) are each capable of 45-50 homers.
The longest shot on the Caesars board is worth a $2 play. Jeff Kent (200-1) begins his first year with the Dodgers, which should re-ignite the rivalry with the Giants considering his time with the Giants and well-publicized spats with Bonds. Kent’s best homer year was 37 in 2002.
Some others that intrigue us — Houston’s Lance Berkman (40-1), Oakland’s Eric Chavez (45-1) and Texas slugger Mark Teixeria (25-1).