I have to admit it: the home run derby has probably become my favorite part of the all-star game festivities. That and the futures game of course. The all-star game itself has devolved into a farce with a slew of issues (I posted a lot of these criticisms in my 2011 Nats all-star piece, and they remain issues today, so no need to go back into them here). Lets talk about the Home Run derby.
I kind of like the wrinkle of naming “captains,” which for this year occurred on 6/23/14. But the captains have to pick the right guys. I hate the format; when a guy like Josh Hamilton is remembered for his epic performance in an early round moreso than the winner, something’s wrong with the format. But they’re changing it this year. And the players take *way* too many pitches. But whatever. This year’s captains are Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista. Fans can vote on who they want to see in the competition.
Here’s my ideal home-run derby slate of participants. In the interest of keeping the competition “small” i’ve limited this to 5 per league:
- Giancarlo Stanton: owner of 3 of the biggest 11 homers on the year, on pace for 45+ homers, leading the NL in home runs. And he wants in this year.
- Bryce Harper: last year’s runner-up is one of the few players in the majors scouted with 80 power; despite his injury-plagued season he belongs in this competition.
- Michael Morse: not too many all-or-nothing hitters like Morse, whose name dots the leader board on hittracker.
- Evan Gattis: you don’t just turn on chest-high fastballs from Strasburg if you’re a plain ole hitter.
- Yasiel Puig: just because. Can he do a bat flip after every homer?
- Troy Tulowitzki: He’s in as a captain, but even despite that selection he’s a decent choice: he’s 5th in the majors in ISO and tied for 6th in Homers.
- Paul Goldschmidt: has the power capabilities and the overall game. But he’s not nearly as explosive as the guys above.
- Ryan Howard: He may not merit inclusion based on his performance, but he’s a classic three-true outcomes hitter. Lefties get him out with ease; i’m sure batting practice pitchers don’t.
- Todd Frazier: his power numbers spike thanks to playing in Cincinnati, but he’s still got some serious underrated power.
- Justin Upton: Owner of the 3rd longest homer on the year.
- Yoenis Cespedes: gotta let the man defend his crown.
- Edwin Encarnacion: MLB leader in Homers as of this writing. Has to be in this competition.
- Jose Abreu: MLB leader in ISO and on a 40 homer pace despite hitting the D/L.
- David Ortiz: Owns the 2nd longest homer hit this season and would make a nice homecoming in Minnesota.
- Mike Trout: He’s such a good hitter, that he could just sit at the plate and hit homer after homer. And, he just hit a 489 foot homer to take over the longest homer of the year.
- Jose Bautista: He’s a captain, so we’ll list him here. Otherwise he’s a stretch to make this list.
- Victor Martinez: he’s quietly one of the best power hitters in the league right now.
- Mark Trumbo: too bad he’s hurt; he’s a great power hitter to watch.
- Nelson Cruz: his homer totals may be augmented by playing in Baltimore, but he’s still putting numbers on the board.
- Adam Dunn: you know he’d be a favorite to win if he was named to this team, but I could only select 5. He’d be the 6th man in for the AL.
Are these the best lineups you could possibly ask for in this competition? Who else would you put on this list of power-crazy players? Jim Caple posted his own tongue-in-cheek version of this same post, worth a read for a quick giggle. There’s a handful of other DH-only types in the AL (Billy Butler, Chris Carter, Adam Lind, Juan Francisco, etc) who might make sense.
(I used three resources to name these names: the current major league leaders in Homers, the current major league leaders in Isolated Power, and an eyeballing of the leader board for most astoundingly long homers on the year from Hit Tracker Online. All stats are as of 6/24/14 and may have changed slightly between then and the publication of this post).