In approximately four weeks, MLB's best and brightest will convene at Nationals Park in Washington for the 2018 All-Star Game festivities. There's the Futures Game on Sunday, the Home Run Derby on Monday, and the All-Star Game itself on Tuesday. All-Star Game activities from from June 15-17 this year.
Harper has only participated in the Home Run Derby once before, when he finished second to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013. Heyman notes MLB has two things going for them in their attempt to lure Harper to the Home Run Derby:
- The All-Star Game is in Nationals Park this year (duh).
- T-Mobile sponsors the Home Run Derby and they have an endorsement deal with Harper.
Heyman says MLB is somewhat concerned the Home Run Derby won't be as star-studded as previous years. Already Aaron Judge, the reigning Home Run Derby champion, . Others like Mookie Betts, Giancarlo Stanton, and J.D. Martinez have indicated they may pass as well. Mike Trout has never participated in a Home Run Derby.
There is no shortage of power hitters in today's game, though MLB wants big names in the Home Run Derby to generate buzz, and there aren't many bigger names than Harper. Love him or hate him, people know him. The fact the All-Star Game is in Nationals Park this year makes Harper's participation seem like a foregone conclusion, but you never know. Many players are worried about throwing their swing mechanics out of whack.
By his standards Harper is having a down season ---- hitting .221/.361/.489 (127 OPS+) in 67 games. He does lead the National League with 19 home runs, however.