San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. entered Friday ranked third in Major League Baseball with 22 home runs. Alas, Tatis also became the latest star to withdraw his name from consideration for the 2021 Home Run Derby.
Tatis told Annie Heilbrunn of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he's foregoing the event in part because of his health. He's left three games this season with a shoulder injury, including one recently against the Cincinnati Reds. Tatis also mentioned how he had been looking forward to facing off against Toronto Blue Jays slugger and the MLB leader in home runs (with 24) Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who recently bowed out because he wanted time to recharge ahead of the second half.
Tatis came into Friday hitting .281/.365/.657 (186 OPS+) in 244 plate appearances. According to Baseball Reference's calculations, he's already accumulated some 3.3 Wins Above Replacement on the year, despite appearing in just 58 of San Diego's 77 contests.
While Tatis and Guerrero won't be involved in the Home Run Derby, MLB has secured yeses from New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso and Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani, it should be noted, hit his 24th home run of the season on Friday night, tying Guerrero for the MLB lead. Alonso, of course, is the event's defending champion, having edged Guerrero in 2019. Neither the All-Star Game nor the Home Run Derby could be held last season because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
New York Yankees teammates Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez also said they won't partake this year, though Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Álvarez is said to have interest. The Home Run Derby field consists of eight players, so the league still needs to find six more participants.
This year's Home Run Derby is scheduled to take place on Monday, July 12. The contest will be held at Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies. The 2021 All-Star Game will subsequently take place the following night.