Next Tuesday, MLB will officially announce the 2016 All-Star Game starters and reserves. Here's how you can watch the announcement. A day or two later the league will announce this year's eight Home Run Derby participants, who will take their hacks in spacious Petco Park on Monday, July 11.
The Home Run Derby has a new format, as I'm sure you remember. Players are now racing against the clock and competing head-to-head in a bracket-style tournament. Surely you remember Todd Frazier's dramatic win in front of the hometown Reds fans at the Great American Ball Park last summer. It was awesome.
The Home Run Derby was no doubt getting stale, and the addition of the clock added some much needed excitement to the event. Baseball really did hit a home run with the new format, pun intended.
So, with the Home Run Derby announcement roughly a week away, here are the eight players this CBSSports.com scribe would like to see taking their hacks in San Diego. The players are listed alphabetically. Average home run distances are per the excellent Statcast resource Baseball Savant.
Cubs wunderkind Kris Bryant participated in the Home Run Derby as a rookie last season, a season he finished with 26 home runs and .488 slugging percentage in 650 plate appearances. Bryant is already up 21 homers in 327 plate appearances this season thanks to historic performances like his three-homer, two-double showing Monday night. Also, Bryant attended the University of San Diego, so he has some local ties.
It's only right the reigning Home Run Derby champ gets a chance to defend his title, right? Right. Frazier was the runner-up back in 2014 too, remember. He's a seasoned Home Run Derby veteran at this point. Frazier changed leagues over the winter and is now with the White Sox, but that shouldn't mean anything. He's among the league leaders in dingers and he won the Derby last year. I want him there defending his crown.
With all due respect to Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez is the Rockies slugger I most want to see swinging away in the Home Run Derby. He has the longest average home run distance among players with 15+ homers by more than five feet, and it's not just Coors Field. CarGo's homers average 412.8 feet on the road too. When he connects, the ball goes a very long away. His ultra-sweet sweet lefty swing belongs in the Home Run Derby.
There has to be a hometown player in the Home Run Derby. I don't know if it's in the rules but it should be. We saw the outrage when Billy Butler wasn't picked for the 2012 Derby in Kansas City, remember? Myers is a worthy entrant into the Home Run Derby because he's breaking out as a legitimate star this season. His wrists are healthy and he's putting up big power numbers in a big ballpark. Give the San Diego faithful someone to get behind.
Big Papi is a no-brainer. David Ortiz is leading all players in slugging percentage -- by 68 points! -- and he's having a historically great season for a 40-year-old player. For what it's worth, the Red Sox legend recently told reporters, including Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, it's "probably not a good idea" for him to participate in the Home Run Derby because of the travel and various commitments. That doesn't mean fans don't want to see him there, of course.
Mark Trumbo blossoming into an elite masher with the Orioles is one of my favorite stories of the season. He's worked super hard at improving his plate discipline over the years and is now having breakout season. I like to see players rewarded for their hard work like that. Trumbo currently leads MLB in home runs, and among players with 15+ home runs, only Nelson Cruz (414.9 feet) has a longer average home run distance among righties. Bring those Trumbombs to San Diego, MLB.
I'm a fan of including at least one rookie in the Home Run Derby this season, and Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is as good a candidate as any after coming into the season as the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Only Trevor Story (19) has more homers among rookies, and, well, when you compare their home ballparks, Seager's been more impressive. Also, while there is no rule against having two players from the same team in the Home Run Derby (Bryant and Anthony Rizzo were in it last year), I prefer a greater mix of teams, so Seager it is. CarGo is my token Rockie.
Yes, I know Giancarlo Stanton has had some big time struggles this season, but the man is still the game's preeminent power hitter, and the Home Run Derby is supposed to be a spectacle. The Marlins franchise player still has elite power -- he leads all of baseball in exit velocity for the second straight year -- so when he connects, the ball goes a very long way. Stanton absolutely belongs in an event where the only goal is to hit the ball as far as possible as often as possible.
So that is my field of eight. We've got four AL players and four NL players, five righties and three lefties. The park factors at FanGraphs say Petco Park is a better home run park for lefties than righties, while StatCorner says it's better for righties than lefties, so who knows? The mystery is part of the fun.
The eight Home Run Derby contestants are seeded according to their season home run totals, then face off head-to-head. Here's how my eight players would matchup:
- No. 1 Mark Trumbo vs. No. 8 Giancarlo Stanton
- No. 2 Kris Bryant vs. No. 7 Corey Seager
- No. 3 Todd Frazier vs. No. 6 Carlos Gonzalez
- No. 4 David Ortiz vs. No. 5 Wil Myers
Gosh that Trumbo vs. Stanton matchup would be a blast. They can both hit the ball a very long way and make it look very easy too. Also, Bryant vs. Seager in a matchup of elite young players would be fun too.
Other players I considered for the Home Run Derby include Carlos Correa and George Springer of the Astros, Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano of the Mariners, Manny Machado and Chris Davis of the Orioles, Chris Carter of the Brewers, Nolan Arenado of the Rockies, and Byung-Ho Park of the Twins. I want guys who can put on a show.