News, Opinions, and Everything Baseball

Home Run Derby 2017 Participants

The 2017 Home Run Derby in Marlins Park will feature athletes who look like they belong on a basketball court or football field. Aaron Judge and hometown favorite Giancarlo Stanton are the two headliners in the sporting event that produces the single most game used souvenirs for fans. There is no doubt about the inclusion of an unstoppable force and an immovable object. However, there were many debates about the rest of the field.

The biggest controversy came when Tampa Bay Rays’ slugger Logan Morrison was quoted as saying that Gary Sanchez didn’t belong in the derby. Morrison sits at 24 homers, while Sanchez is 11 behind with 13 bombs. Granted, Sanchez missed a month of the season with an injury, but so did Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman; nobody asked him to be in the Home Run Derby.

Home Run Derby 2017 Participants

The 2017 Home Run Derby features defending champion Giancarlo Stanton

I think it’s surprising to see Sanchez in the derby regardless of how many home runs he has or doesn’t have. Being that he was on the DL for a month, and his team in contention for a playoff spot, all those extra power swings would have me concerned as a Yankees fan. Usually injured players don’t participate in such events. Although Sanchez isn’t injured, he isn’t far removed from the DL, and it seems he is in the event merely for the popularity and possible payday he gets for participating.

Back to Morrison. LoMo is tied for the 4th most home runs in all of baseball. He didn’t get an invite to the derby. Other top home run hitters either didn’t get an invite or turned down the invitation. Among the other home run leaders not competing include George Springer (25), Khris Davis (24), Joey Votto (24), Marcell Ozuna (24), and Eric Thames (23). Springer reportedly declined an invitation. Having three Marlins in the event would be overkill – two already seems a bit much for a 4th place team.

One of the best stories of the season so far was the production of Thames. The guy had to go overseas to Korea for two years because Major League teams wouldn’t sign him. He became a star and found his way back on an MLB roster and has continued to mash like he did over there. But he didn’t get an invite. His Milwaukee Brewers are in first place as well. I don’t think Major League Baseball wants to market a player on a team who is overtaking the feel good story of the defending champion Chicago Cubs.

The biggest arguments I have heard FOR Sanchez over Morrison (and this is only because LoMo directly compared himself to Sanchez) is that Sanchez plays for the Yankees whom everybody wants to see. A young rising star has more homers since his August call-up in 2016 than journeyman Morrison does.

Major League Baseball has 30 teams that are essentially equal being in the same level of the sport and competing against each other. The players should have an equal chance to compete in events such as the Home Run Derby based on their success. Also, the derby (and the All-Star Game itself) should be based on current season statistics. Anybody who validates Sanchez with his 2016 stats loses credibility. It’s called the 2017 Home Run Derby…

Home Run Derby 2017 Participants

Moving on to the rest of the field of current participants who accepted invitations to the derby. Cody Bellinger is a young power hitting first baseman that is tied for 4th in MLB with 24 dingers. He plays for the big market Dodgers and is a solid choice for the derby. He takes on Charlie Blackmon who only has 92 career home runs at 31 years of age. Other than Sanchez, Blackmon is the biggest question mark as to why he received an invite. His career high of 29 home runs in a season came last year, and he might only have that many playing in hitter friendly Coors Field.

Judge will be taking on Justin Bour. Bour is a big lefty but has only 58 career home runs at age 29. I know career home runs aren’t a standard for the derby selection, but he is another choice who seems to be a late bloomer in his professional development. Good for him, but bad for the derby selection. This contradicts why I would advocate Morrison getting in over Sanchez, but it’s obvious the hometown nod helped Bour’s case. Outside of Miami, few baseball fans know of Bour.

Mike Moustakas has a first round matchup against Miguel Sano. Moustakas sits at 25 home runs and Sano has 20. Both of these players are on small market teams, although the Royals have been trending up the last few seasons after a World Series victory and multiple post-season appearances. Sano is my pick to win the derby. He might hit every ball out and he might not get a single home run. I like his odds as a quiet sleeper.

The finals matchup that everybody wants to see is Judge versus Stanton. Goliath 1 and Goliath 2. I doubt it will happen, but the event is made for behemoths like those two. We will probably see Bryce Harper in the 2018 Home Run Derby in Washington, but for now we will have to settle for an injured Sanchez and a humidor ball hitting Blackmon.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: