Nationals Arm Race

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

2021 Home Run Derby w/ Soto!


Soto just the 3rd ever Nat in the HR derby. Source NYPost

So, it isn’t too often a member of the Nationals is in the Home Run Derby.

In fact, it has happened only twice before, in the history of the event.

  • in 2013, Bryce Harper made the finals before losing to home-town hero Yoenis Cespedes.
  • in 2018, Harper won the event on home-soil in a 19-18 memorable slugfest against now-Nat Kyle Schwarber

But 2021 we get our star slugger Juan Soto in the derby, representing the franchise for just the 3rd time ever.

Only Eight players are selected, then they’re seeded. Here’s how the seedings are for this event:

  • #1 Shohei Ohtani
  • #8 Juan Soto
  • #5 Pete Alonso
  • #4 Salvador Perez
  • #3 Matt Olson
  • #6 Trey Mancini
  • #7 Trevor Story
  • #2 Joey Gallo

So, Unfortunately Soto heads against the #1 seed in Ohtani in the first round, so he may be one and done. But its a derby so who knows: the winner of these competitions is often the Batting-Practice god, not necessarily the guy who can translate BP power to the game. My initial guess as to who wins this is Gallo over Alonso in the final, but who knows if Ohtani can overcome.

My bigger point in this is to list just how deficient this field is. There’s just so many sluggers in the league who are not here who i’d rather see than (with all due respect) someone like Salvador Perez or even home-town hero Story.

So, Who would I have rather seen in this derby? Lets look at it two ways.

  1. Here’s the list of current HR leaders in the league: Ohtani, Fernando Tatis, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Kyle Schwarber, Ronald Acuna, Gallo, Jared Walsh, Adolis Garcia, Marcus Semien, Javier Baez, Rafael Devers, and Olson. So just three of your current top 10 HR leaders are in the field.
  2. If you sort the 2021 hitters by ISO or by HR/FB percentage in fangraphs, you get almost an identical list to the above list of HR leaders. You also add in a couple of additional names like Max Muncy, Brandon Crawford, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton to the mix. Bryce Harper even shows up in the 20-25 range in both figures, along with a few other three-true-outcome types.
  3. then, based on a custom Fangraphs dashboard over the past few seasons, here’s a few more guys who are among the league leaders in HR per PA: Mike Trout (a prolific HR hitter who people often forget has significant power), Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano, Gary Sanchez, and JD Martinez.

So, out of ALL of these names … who are the top 8 sluggers I’d really want to see in a HR derby? We’ll leave out both Trout and Schwarber (since they’re hurt) for the purposes of this and rank the sluggers in order of my perfect case HR derby.

  • #1 Giancarlo Stanton: I just don’t see how there’s anyone else out there who isn’t the prototype for a HR hitter. he’s my #1 seed. 59 Homers in 2017. Sells out for power every swing.
  • #2 Aaron Judge: 52 homers as a rookie but hasn’t been healthy since. No matter; all I need is for him to be healthy for a couple hours next sunday.
  • #3 Shohei Ohtani: the next coming of Babe Ruth, on pace for 60 homers this season and leading the league. A deserving #1 seed in the real event.
  • #4 Pete Alonso: Broke Judge’s rookie record with 53 homers in his rookie season, the defending champ. Maybe he should be #1 seed both this year and in my fake derby as the defending champ.
  • #5 Joey Gallo: the second coming of Dave Kingman: 40 homer power and a Mendoza-line BA. The perfect guy for my home run derby.
  • #6 Bryce Harper: 80-grade power by the time he was a junior high player, his 502-foot homer as a 16yr old is still amazing. Past champion of the event.
  • #7 Vladimir Guerrero Jr; after a slow pro career start, he’s now posting MVP numbers (.341/.439/.679 so far in 2021 and on pace for 55 homers; i mean, that’s a better slash line than Willie Mays ever put up, and is right in line with the best season Mickey Mantle ever had).
  • #8 Fernando Tatis; Leads the NL right now in both Homers and Stolen Bases, on track for a 50/40 season, which is something that no one has ever even come close to doing.

Imagine this field. Did I forget anyone obvious?

Anyway; love the HR derby, its my favorite thing to watch during the AS break. This year, we’ll get the draft though, so that’ll be fun too.

Written by Todd Boss

July 9th, 2021 at 12:34 pm

12 Responses to '2021 Home Run Derby w/ Soto!'

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  1. I assume that Soto is basically just a sub for Schwarber, plus apparently one of the few real young studs they could get to commit. I don’t really think of him as a bopper, but he’s so good at putting bat on ball just where it wants it that he shouldn’t be counted out.

    That said, it would be fun for baseball for Othani to go off.


    9 Jul 21 at 2:49 pm

  2. Another mock today: BA hits. Baseball America (Collazzo): Mock draft v6.0 7/9/21: Mayer, Lawlar, Jobe, Leiter, Watson. Nats take Madden over Bachman.

    Still no consensus; Jobe, Madden or Bachman.

    Todd Boss

    9 Jul 21 at 4:13 pm

  3. I really don’t know what to think about Jobe. He’s almost 19 (end of the month) and isn’t as much of a velo fiend as some others, but seems to have an advanced slider. High school pitchers scare me as a general rule. Madden likely would be a safer pick than Jobe. Maybe Jobe has a slightly higher upside, but with a considerably higher risk.


    9 Jul 21 at 4:39 pm

  4. If Jobe is there at 11, I think he’s a guarantee to get picked. That’d be great value based on where a lot of the shops rank him.

    Todd Boss

    9 Jul 21 at 4:50 pm

  5. Jobe is who Mike Rizzo supposedly covets above all other names. I think the Nats’ first-round board looks something like: Jobe, Rocker, Madden, Bednar, Bachman, Hoglund, Painter, Wicks. And I think they’d love to find a way to ink Jaden Hill if he drops to them in the second round.


    9 Jul 21 at 5:19 pm

  6. Sao, you’re not going to score a lot of runs with that board! Sigh.

    I would take Rocker 10 times out of 10 over Jobe. No insult intended of Jobe; I just think Rocker has the highest ceiling in this draft. He may not reach it, but if he does, a lot of teams that passed on him are going to be sorry.

    Rocker’s “fall” actually sort of reminds me of Rendon’s. He was obviously such a great talent, but teams talked themselves out of picking him because he wasn’t quite as dominant as a junior as they thought he should be (despite injuries and getting walked EIGHTY times).


    9 Jul 21 at 8:44 pm

  7. I’ll be ecstatic, and shocked, if Rocker gets to #11. It seems like there’s 2 teams ahead of us who are in the “if he gets to us we pick him” boat. Kansas City and NY Mets.

    Rizzo stuck to his board in the Giolito year, and when he dropped, they picked him up. Jobe by all accounts is a better prospect, higher ceiling.

    Todd Boss

    9 Jul 21 at 9:15 pm

  8. I don’t see Jobe as a better prospect than Giolito, who was already huge, a full year younger than Jobe is now, and allegedly had been “touching 100.” I don’t look at Jobe’s profile and see top-of-the-rotation ace, unless he really fills out more and picks up some MPH.


    9 Jul 21 at 9:53 pm

  9. And another tough loss for the big club, which is now on a 2-7 run against the West Coast big boys. The Nats are just crawling toward the All-Star break, but will they have eliminated themselves before they get there? I know Sao is already ready to back up the truck. It will be an interesting couple of weeks leading to the trade deadline as they try to figure out whether they’re still contenders. Obviously getting Stras and Schwarber back could help right the ship.


    10 Jul 21 at 11:24 am

  10. If the Nats enter the break eight or nine games back in the loss column, I think we can pretty safely pack it in, yeah. That loss Thursday was a backbreaker, and last night just compounded it. Now we have Gomes hurt and the struggling Lester this afternoon against the Giants’ ace. Based on their history, Strasburg and Schwarber are as likely to come back and scuffle for a while as they are to come back and contribute; that’s what happened when we waited for the cavalry in 2015.


    10 Jul 21 at 12:54 pm

  11. On the draft front, I think we get Ty Madden if the Orioles or Angels swing an underslot deal, and I think there’s a chance we get Jackson Jobe if both do. If neither do and the top ten is chalk, we’re probably stuck picking from our down-board options like Sam Bachman, Will Bednar, and Andrew Painter. We’ve been most frequently connected to Bachman within that tier, FWIW.


    10 Jul 21 at 3:17 pm

  12. Draft: i’m hoping something weird happens and we get Rocker to slip. Jobe i’m worried about. If they’re flipping between Madden and Bachman … well i’m on record wanting the more toolsy pitcher (Bachman) but wouldn’t be disappointed with Madden. Please do not over-draft Bednar or Painter; that’s all I hope for.

    Nats: they’ve gotten crushed against the NL West … and coming out of the ASB they’ll continue to play them, then away at Baltimore (who sucks yes, but still is an AL team that we generally struggle with), so they might continue to plummet downwards. But hey, i’m also the guy who wrote them off in 2019 at 19-31, so I don’t want to get burned again. This team absolutely can do a 20-7 month so….

    Todd Boss

    10 Jul 21 at 5:29 pm

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