Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Who *really* should be in the HR derby? 2017 edition


Stanton is your defending champ .. and one heck of a slugger. Photo unk via

Stanton is your defending champ .. and one heck of a slugger. Photo unk via

I know some think the HR derby is a sham.  However I like it, I love the new format (timed instead of by outs), and the results speak for themselves; by some accounts tickets for the HR derby are going for more money than the All Star Game itself.  And this year seems rather compelling, with the defending champ and inarguable holder of the league’s current title of ‘Best slugger” in Giancarlo Stanton the #1 seed in his home town, set to hopefully face off against the #2 seed Aaron Judge, who is busy setting Statcast exit velocity speed records and running away with both the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year award (last time someone’s done that?  Ichiro Suzuki in his “rookie” year in Seattle).

So we know they got Stanton and Judge right; who else is in this year’s tourney and who *should* have been there?

Here’s a link to the 2017 HR Bracket.   Your seeds are:

  1. Giancarlo Stanton
  2. Aaron Judge
  3. Cody Bellinger
  4. Mike Moustakas
  5. Miguel Sano
  6. Charlie Blackmon
  7. Justin Bour (shout out to the Westfields HS and George Mason alumni Bour!  Also worth noting; he was a 25th round pick; bully for Bour to even be in the majors, let alone slugging his way onto the national stage)
  8. Gary Sanchez

I’m with Logan Morrison here: half field makes no sense compared to who *should* be in.  In my perfect world, here’s who i’d have in the tourney.  This is a combination of looking at the 2016 HR Derby field,  2017 home run leader board, the 2017 hit tracker longest home run list, the Statcast exit velocity/average HR length figures, and my own personal opinion.

By Seed:

  1. Giancarlo Stanton; defending champ and clear #1 seed.
  2. Aaron Judge: 2017 HR leader
  3. Mark Trumbo: last year’s #1 seed and was a monster in the derby.
  4. Bryce Harper: perhaps a homer pick, but he’s clearly a masher of the ball and deserves to be in this tourney.  He turned it down yet again in 2017.  I don’t know why.
  5. Kris Bryant: A Harper-Bryant first round would be just like their school-boy days in Las Vegas.
  6. George Springer2nd in the league in homers right now.
  7. Kris Thames: great reclamation story, has 20+ homers in his return to the majors.
  8. Cody Bellinger: the LA rookie has had nearly as impressive a breakout season as Judge.

If I could go 9-16, I’d probably throw in guys from this list:

  • Yoenis Cespedes: his prior HR Derby wins were legendary
  • Justin Bour: he can put a hurt on the ball
  • Kyle Schwarber: I love the look on his face when he really mashes one.
  • Joey Gall0: another power-first guy who can really back into one.
  • Miguel Sano: a deserving participant this year.
  • Marcelle Ozuna: can’t believe this guy is playing CF for the Marlins.
  • Paul Goldschmidt: he’s definitely one of the elite home run hitters in the league.
  • Mike Trout: people don’t think of him as a slugger … but he’s got his fair share of 480-foot moon shots on his resume (yes I know he’s injured right now; this is my “theoretical” derby!)

And in the “not a young whipper snapper anymore” division, I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing any of these guys in an expanded field:

  • Mike Napoli; just for the beard.
  • Nelson Cruz: believe it or not, he’s the league leader in homers for the past three 3+ seasons inclusive, by a sizeable margin over #2.
  • Edwin Encarnacion: #2 behind Cruz in total homers; I know he’s having a down year after leaving Toronto but he’s still a slugger and a half.
  • Chris Davis: you don’t just fall into 50+ home run seasons.
  • Jose Bautista: for the bat flips and ensuing brawls
  • Mark Reynolds: this era’s version of Adam Dunn
  • Albert Pujols: only makes sense to have the active HR leader in the field.

What do you think?  Did I miss anyone obvious?

Oh a prediction: I like the two top seeds to advance, with Stanton beating Judge in an anti-climactic final.

6 Responses to 'Who *really* should be in the HR derby? 2017 edition'

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  1. Bryce is saving himself for the 2018 ASG! (Just tell Dad to lay off the cutter.) Actually, Harper seems to be in the midst of some Murph-inspired swing adjustments, so I’m fine with him not swinging for the downs right now.

    Freddie Freeman should lobby to be in the Back-Back-Back contest in 2018 since he has about a hundred career homers in Nats Park, or at least it seems that way.


    10 Jul 17 at 12:17 pm

  2. yeah he better fckin participate next year 🙂

    Todd Boss

    10 Jul 17 at 12:42 pm

  3. So, who do you think owns whom more: Murph owning the Mets, or Freeman owning the Nats? Sheesh, that guy kills us.

    I can’t really generate any interest in the home run derby, nor the all star game.

    Soto was rated #12 prospect by BP. Look, I’m glad for the prospect love for the guy, especially in such a down year on the farm, but that’s nuts. The two guys right behind him (Vlad and Tucker) are superstar prospects. And I’m bullish on him. If they could use him as the centerpiece for Osuna or Iglesias, I’d jump all over it. He was rated in the 90s by BA, which seems too low also. But just saying.


    10 Jul 17 at 7:52 pm

  4. Sorry, that last one was me. Not sure why my name and email disappear sometimes, but I don’t always check it


    10 Jul 17 at 7:53 pm

  5. I completely agree about Soto — I’m very high on him, but it’s very SSS on him as a pro. That said, if he has accumulated that much “prospect value” based on the SSS, I wouldn’t mind spending it at what may be its peak.

    I wouldn’t be too upset at trading Robles, either, provided they got something worthy of a consensus top 10 prospect in return. For all the hype, Robles isn’t the next Harper (who was already in the majors at Robles’ age). Robles has good speed, good contact, and good gap power. To me, his best-case comp looks like Marte, although I doubt Robles will steal 47 in a season. I know some want to compare Robles to Rendon, but I doubt Robles will show as much HR power as Rendon. The regular, solid contact will be comparable, though, and Robles will fill out to about the same size.

    In this market of second-tier guys, though, who would be worth giving up such top prospects for? I thought about a trade for both Quintana and Robertson, but Quintana hasn’t been very good this year. It sure would be nice to get the two lefties in preparation for the Dodgers, though.

    Osuna is far and away the class of the relievers who might be available. He’s also ridiculously cheap and controlled for three more years, so he’d cost premium prospects. The Reds are going to want a premium for Iglesias as well, but while I’m intrigued, he’s got no big game/postseason experience, and I’d be reluctant to give up a lot for him.

    Maybe Rizzo will go shopping on Prime Day . . . although the big rub this year is that so few teams are truly out of contention and thus truly ready to sell.


    11 Jul 17 at 8:12 am

  6. I’d put Robles best-case comp as more McCutchen than Marte. Robles’s power has ticked up this year (.524 SLG and .222 ISO). Whether he ever gets to the consistent 20+ HR pop McCutchen has is all projection though. McCutchen’s power really developed in the majors, not the minors. Looking at the stats, I think Robles’ K/BB profile more closely resembles McCutchen’s than Marte’s. But KW, you’re right that Robles is not Harper. He’s not going to replace Harper’s power, but he might replace a decent chunk of Harper’s production through a combination of skills.

    I also don’t have a problem trading Robles if we get good value for him. My view is that no relief pitcher on the planet is worth a prospect like Robles. You need to get a multi-year player for Robles and relief pitchers are (a) far too volatile year-to-year and (b) don’t pitch enough innings to provide the enough value. I like Osuna, and it’s obviously great that he’s cheap and under control for three years. But I’d discount having control over him for 2019/2020 quite a bit mainly because relief pitchers break so often. I could see Soto or Kieboom being the centerpiece of an Osuna deal from the Nats perspective (have no view about whether the Jays would think one of those two guys is enough to be a centerpiece).


    11 Jul 17 at 1:26 pm

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