In less than a month, we'll be in the All-Star break and that means lots of things, including the fact that we're closing in on one of the most entertaining parts of the MLB season (now that they fixed the format and put in a clock): the Home Run Derby. People are starting to talk about it, so let's run down who would be in an ideal field.
Some of my personal rules:
- I need at least one player from the home stadium. The most fun Derby finishes have been in Cincinnati when Todd Frazier won and last season in D.C. when Bryce Harper made a late run to beat Kyle Schwarber.
- Moonshots are the most fun. I want prodigious bombs over and over. Sorry, Tommy La Stella.
- There's subjectivity here. I might think some players aren't quite as fun to watch hit BP as others. Leading the league right now doesn't mean I think a player is going to be incredibly fun in the Derby. Sorry in advance, Christian Yelich fans.
- Generally speaking, I would avoid players who have done it before. Sorry to my favorite player in baseball, Javier Baez.
- Not every player wants to do it. If a player has publicly declined before, I likely won't be picking him. Giancarlo Stanton, for example, has said he doesn't want to participate in the event any more.
Onto my field of eight, in no particular order.
As noted, we need a hometown hero and Santana's the best they got now that Jose Ramirez has fallen apart. Some might argue for Francisco Lindor, but he's said he doesn't want to do it while Santana has said he does. Fair enough. Easy first pick.
He absolutely destroys baseballs, he's a Yankee (let's face it, Yankee Haters, you know they move the needle nationally). Bring him! He's hit one 470 feet this season.
Easy and major power to all fields, Reyes will be an unknown for a decent portion of the viewing audience but he's so fun he'll turn some heads. He ranks ninth in average exit velocity, so we know he can crush the baseball.
Alonso is among the league leaders in home runs, owns other-worldly power and he's from a New York team. He checks a lot of boxes here, no?
A huge breakout season surely has Bell going to the game anyway and Pittsburgh isn't too far away from Cleveland. Surely Bell will have some supporters in the house, should Santana bow out early. Of note, Bell has hit one 474 feet this season and ranks third in the majors in average exit velocity.
Seriously, just take a look. How can he not be in this?
He's going to be one of the most fun players in baseball for years to come, so let's get the entire continent a look at him doing his thing on this stage. Of note, his average home run distance of 427 feet ranks third in baseball and he has the single hardest hit ball this season with a 118.9 mph single.
Arguably, no one in baseball has more raw power than Gallo and he's having a career year. He also leads the majors in average exit velocity. Unfortunately, he's hurt right now and might not make it. If he does, though ...
If Gallo is still hurt ...
This event is a perfect showcase for all the young talent in the league and Riley has been unbelievable since coming up from the minors several weeks ago.