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, 2022 edition


Soto in, who else? Photo via

This week, ahead of the 2022 Home run Derby, we’re starting to get leaks of the various participants. We got word that 2-time defending champ Pete Alonso is back to defend his Home run Derby title. We heard that the league is putting in retiring future Hall of famer Albert Pujols, and our own Juan Soto (who isn’t the all-or-nothing HR power hitter like some of these guys, but who did have a monstrous 520-foot shot last year).

That’s awesome. But … what would be the absolutely, ideal HR derby in 2022?

For reference, here’s MLB’s list of past HR derby winners. And here’s Wiki’s page which shows all the participants each year. And here’s a list of the 10 longest homers this year.

Here’s who i’d like to see in my optimal HR derby.

  1. Pete Alonso, who won it in 2019 and 2021 and will be tough to dethrone.
  2. Giancarlo Stanton: because, yeah, he hits bombs. And he won it in 2016. And his exit velocity is crazy.
  3. Aaron Judge, who goes into the all-star break leading the league with (as of today) 30 dingers. And because he hits bombs.
  4. Kyle Schwarber, runner up to Harper (controversially) in 2018, but also a HR hitting machine. Currently sits 2nd in the league in 2022. When he gets warmed up, he can hit a lot of HRs, quick.
  5. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: would love to see his wild swing connecting in the derby.
  6. Yordan Alvarez, owner of one of the longest HRs of the season, currently sits 3rd in the league for Homers in 2022, hits bombs.
  7. C.J. Cron; he’s a beast built like a linebacker who can really get into one; two of the 10 longest HRs this year are his.
  8. Juan Soto: entered last year, hits for power, but on a down year this year.

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Bryce Harper, the 2018 winner. Unfortunately, he’s got a broken hand so he’s out.
  2. Joey Gallo: he’s only hitting .166 this year, but man he can hit some dingers.
  3. Shohei Ohtani; the best player in the game not named Trout can destroy balls, and would be awesome in the competition.
  4. Mike Trout: every year he manages to make the top 10 list of longest homers, one year hitting one nearly 500 feet. But he gets squeezed out of this list. Perhaps he shouldn’t; he’s on a sneaky good season pushing for 50.
  5. Byron Buxton doesn’t make his way onto most people’s minds for prolific home run hitter, but he’s got multiple 450′ shots this year and is top 10 in the league for HRs right now.
  6. Austin Riley can hit some balls.
  7. Rhys Hoskins isn’t a bad choice.
  8. I’ve always liked Cody Bellinger‘s sweet lefty swing; 47 homers in 2019 as a 23yr old MVP, but he’s struggled with injury since.

So, that’s my ideal list. lets see how close we get to it.

2022 post-publishing: Actual finalized list of 2022 HR derby participants with thoughts (the numbers are the seeds)

  1. Schwarber: ok, how is the 2-time defending champion NOT the #1 seed?
  2. Alonso: I guess the seeds were done by # of “real” homers in the 2022 season.
  3. Corey Seager: not mentioned before now. 21 homers this year, on pace for 40. So he’s a homer threat, but when i think “light tower power” … i’m not thinking about a SS in Texas.
  4. Soto: he did hit one 500 feet last year
  5. Jose Ramirez: perhaps the most underrated player in the sport. i’m glad he gets some attention.
  6. Julio Rodriguez; “who?” you might ask? Just Seattle’s top prospect and a guy who’s been tearing up the league from afar.
  7. Ronald Acuna … not a name even from my HMs. He’s clearly a super star player in the league … but do you think “towering power” when you hear his name?
  8. Pujols: I get it … he’s a HoFamer, but he’s taking up a spot.

Schwarber and Alonso the clear favorites, but there’s some solid players here.

Written by Todd Boss

July 12th, 2022 at 8:52 am

Posted in Nats in General

16 Responses to 'Who *really* should be in the HR Derby, 2022 edition'

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  1. The Ohtani vs. Soto round last year was probably the best show of the whole competition. Alas, I don’t guess KLong can pitch to Juan this year. (Has there been any discussion about how much Soto obviously misses Long?)


    12 Jul 22 at 11:52 am

  2. Branching draft possibilities…

    This is the “chalk” posssibility:

    1. BAL: Druw Jones
    2. ARI: Jackson Holliday
    3. TEX: Brooks Lee
    4. PIT: Cam Collier
    5. WSH: Kevin Parada

    Here, TEX zags, PIT holds steady, and WSH pivots:

    1. BAL: Druw Jones
    2. ARI: Jackson Holliday
    3. TEX: Kevin Parada
    4. PIT: Cam Collier
    5. WSH: Elijah Green

    PIT could be the monkeywrench instead of TEX, or both could be:

    1. BAL: Druw Jones
    2. ARI: Jackson Holliday
    3. TEX: Elijah Green
    4. PIT: Kevin Parada
    5. WSH: Brooks Lee

    It may be less likely, but things could also get weird at the top:

    1. BAL: Brooks Lee
    2. ARI: Druw Jones
    3. TEX: Kevin Parada
    4. PIT: Cam Collier
    5. WSH: Jackson Holliday

    There aren’t all that many variables, and with Jones a consensus top 2-3 pick, even less so. The Nats will almost certainly get one of Parada, Green, Lee, and maybe even Holliday. It’s hard to see a scenario in which they opt for Collier or Berry, given they are certain to have at least one of those four players on the board by the time they are on the clock and might even have their pick from two or three of them. So, it’s a question of who is left and what the Nats’ board looks like; I suspect it’s something like:

    1. Jones (not happening)
    2. Holliday (would require the stars to align)
    3. Parada (most plausible)
    4. Green (top fallback)
    5. Lee (Plan C)


    13 Jul 22 at 11:03 am

  3. Here we’ve got Baseball America’s updated top 30:

    1. RHP Cade Cavalli
    2. SS Brady House
    3. OF Cristhian Vaquero
    4. RHP Jackson Rutledge
    5. RHP Andry Lara
    6. RHP Gerardo Carrillo
    7. OF Yasel Antuna
    8. SS Armando Cruz
    9. RHP Cole Henry
    10. OF Jeremy De La Rosa
    11. RHP Aldo Ramírez
    12. LHP Matt Cronin
    13. OF Daylen Lile
    14. LHP Tim Cate
    15. SS Sammy Infante
    16. LHP Mitchell Parker
    17. LHP Evan Lee
    18. SS Jackson Cluff
    19. C Israel Pineda
    20. OF Donovan Casey
    21. OF Roismar Quintana
    22. C Drew Millas
    23. C Tres Barrera
    24. OF T.J. White
    25. SS Jordy Barley
    26. OF Daniel Marte
    27. OF Josh Palacios
    28. RHP Jake Irvin
    29. RHP Seth Shuman
    30. RHP Mason Denaburg

    Notable snubs: RHP Jackson Tetreault, RHP Zach Brzykcy, INF Viandel Peña, INF Darren Baker, RHP Rodney Theophile, INF Jake Alu, RHP Cory Abbott

    My initial observations:

    – I do not understand what evaluators see in Gerardo Carrillo. This is the second major ranking within the past week that has insisted on putting him in the top 10 Nats prospects despite the fact he’s barely pitched over the past year, he’s been absolutely awful when he has, and he hasn’t had a good season above Low-A. I barely even consider him a prospect worth mentioning, let alone top 30, let alone top 10. What am I missing, here?
    – Yasel Antuna must have left a real lasting impression from 2020 summer camp, because I see a player without a position, without much of a bat, and who is about to turn 23 in a few months without having risen past A-ball. He’s repeating the level at High-A and still not looking like he’s ready for a promotion. Again, I guess evaluators are seeing something important that I am not.
    – BA is notably cooler on Cole Henry than most other evaluators, which presumably has something to do with his noted disdain for analytical models, his injury history, or (most likely) both.
    – Sorry, but Tim Cate, who is almost 25 and got busted down from Double-A, should not be that high either. He’s done what he has needed to do repeating High-A, but he’s old for level and still isn’t exactly piling up strikeouts. I have him lower.
    – I do not understand the fascination with Jackson Cluff, at all. By the numbers, he has been one of the worst players in all of minor league baseball this season, and he’s 26 in December. He doesn’t belong anywhere near a prospects list. How does he make the cut over Alu, who is almost a year younger than Cluff, has posted far better numbers, and just got promoted to Triple-A? Does anyone seriously expect Cluff is going to achieve things in his career of which Alu can only dream?
    – I guess T.J. White putting up an .800 OPS at age 18 in Low-A isn’t enough to lift him past a backup catcher who is 28 in two months.
    – Jordy Barley is terrible offensively and defensively, and he’s 23 in December. He’s borderline at best. Again, how does he make a list like this but not the likes of Alu or Peña? What am I missing here?


    13 Jul 22 at 12:16 pm

  4. I’ll be putting out a separate analysis of the BA list … but short version is, WTF.

    Todd Boss

    13 Jul 22 at 1:05 pm

  5. Will hold off on BA until Todd’s new post. Re the draft, I’ve seen more mocks indicating Nat interest in Berry . . . and Green. The names most associated with them are Parada, Green, and Berry. Lee seems to be slipping down some lists (but I’ve also seen some lists where Green is sliding down to 9 or 10).

    In brief, I think the Nats should take whoever they think is the best college bat. Parada isn’t going to end up catching, Lee isn’t going to end up at SS, and Berry isn’t going to end up in RF. Just find someone who can hit and we’ll figure out later where they can play.

    Also, I would be stunned if Holliday falls to #5. I’m not really interested in a high schooler, though. The Nats need more immediate help.


    13 Jul 22 at 3:21 pm

  6. Cluff a higher-rated prospect than White, Irvin, or Denaburg??? And Carrillo and Antuna ahead of Henry??? I think they’ve been sniffing the base lines over at BA, or at least not paying very much attention.


    13 Jul 22 at 3:24 pm

  7. I don’t see why the Nats would draft Jacob Berry at #5. You don’t use a draft pick that high on a 1B/DH-type player. Zero defensive utility and while he’s clearly a hitter, he put up lighter numbers than Parada or Lee. I’d be all in on Berry maybe if we were drafting at #10, but we can do better.


    13 Jul 22 at 3:48 pm

  8. Well, the problem is that you can’t trade down a couple of picks, like you could do in the NFL or NBA. So they’re stuck at #5, and they have no choice but to take a bat who can make it to the Show within three years. If they think Berry’s chances are better than Parada’s or Lee’s, then they take Berry. Personally, I think it would be a bit head-scratching to take Berry over Lee, but that’s what may happen. I see Parada in a similar boat as Berry as far as the Nats are concerned, as there’s no reason for them to overdraft him to catch. Both of those guys are looking at LF/1B/DH, at least with the Nats.


    13 Jul 22 at 7:15 pm

  9. And the big club drops two to fall to a nice round 30-60, tied with the A’s for worst record in baseball. Ugh. Just over a year ago, they made it to one game out of first place, behind the team that would win the championship. The slide since that time has been epic.


    14 Jul 22 at 6:39 am

  10. I’ll post the final mock collection tomorrow. the only mock analyst claiming the nats are looking at berry is Kiley McDaniel at ESPN. Everyone else basically says the following:

    – the Draft has 7 names who are likely going in some order at the top: Jones, Holliday, Green, Johnson, Parada, Lee, and Collier.
    – Jones isn’t getting out of the top 2 picks.
    – Holliday likely isn’t getting past #3
    – Johnson and Collier likely take underslot deals, meaning a team like Baltimore/Pittsburgh picking 1 and 4 could choose them, save a couple million, and then spend it in the comp round on a prep kid who has fallen and basicaly get two top end 1st rounders.

    So in most scenarios The nats have their choice between Lee/Parada and Green/Johnson depending on how the chips fall ahead of them. Berry is more of a 9-10 range pick.

    Todd Boss

    14 Jul 22 at 10:37 am

  11. I’d also like to note … Rainey went straight to the 60-day DL, do not pass go (on the 15-day) with an UCL sprain. Which is a less-scary word for “tear.” A dagger for him, and a dagger for the team in that he was probably the 3rd most valuable trade chip we had. Now he’s likely looking at TJ and a year away. Clippard finally gets called up to replace him, so good for him.

    Todd Boss

    14 Jul 22 at 12:36 pm

  12. Definitely seeing some coalescing around Elijah Green at #5 late. Both Axisa and Callis have that in their mock, although there seems to be some remaining debate as to whether the Nats would pick Parada or Green if they have their choice of the two.

    As I’ve said before, Parada doesn’t really *thrill* me as such — he’s obviously mashed this season, but as KW continually reminds us, his value is diminished if he can’t stick behind the plate. To me, if the Nats think he’s their catcher of the future, maybe even as soon as 2024 in some sort of timeshare with Keibert Ruiz (rotating C/DH?), it’s a no-brainer. If there’s any doubt about that, it’s got to be Brooks Lee if he is available.

    Green, as I’ve also said, scares the hell out of me. The upside is obviously tremendous, but for the Nats’ interest in high-upside talent that the likes of Axisa and Callis are citing when matchmaking the Nats and Green, we SUCK at developing young talent. We have one of the lowest “hit” rates for draftees in all of MLB, and even our recent run of first-rounders is littered with names like Kieboom and Romero who simply haven’t amounted to anything. I would be very excited about Green if we were an analytics-driven org like the Dodgers, the Braves, or even the Orioles (ugh that hurts to even type), but for an organization with a Luddite reputation and a poor track record in player development, I have to think the chances he develops to anything near his potential as a National are depressingly low.


    14 Jul 22 at 12:58 pm

  13. Some mocks have Berry sliding up to #4 or 5, while others have him out of the top 10 entirely. He’s a real wild card. Most have Green and Lee in the top 5-7, but a few have them sliding to the 8-9 range.

    Lee was in 1/1 conversation for a good while and certainly was thought to be top 3, so it’s only recently become somewhat possible that he might be available at #5. He probably makes more sense for the Nats overall than Parada or Berry, unless they’re completely convinced that Parada is going to be a 30+ homer guy in the majors.

    If they’re not fully sold on any of the college hitters, take Johnson (if he’s available). That dude is going to hit. I would bet on him over Green 100 times out of 100. There’s WAY too much risk with Green.

    I honestly don’t know what to think about Collier. Earlier mocks had him #6-7, but he’s got helium and now may not even be available when the Nats pick. There’s some hit risk with him (and with Jones), but not as much as with Green.


    14 Jul 22 at 5:16 pm

  14. I just saw Ghost’s post on NatsTalk from a couple of days ago. He was showing that only half of Parada’s 26 homers came in conference games, with the other half against weaker opponents. We’ve generally given Berry an extra plus for playing in the super-tough SEC, so what about his numbers? Well, only 5 of his 15 homers were in SEC games (3 of the 5 vs. Missouri, which went 10-20 in conference), and 3 of his 9 doubles. So in 25 SEC games, he only had 8 extra-base hits. That doesn’t get me too excited. Parada’s conference success actually looks a lot better to me than Berry’s.


    14 Jul 22 at 6:12 pm

  15. So, I’m not sure who said that Parada’s HR total was way down against conference opponents: I just counted them up and 19 of his 26 homers were in conference play. .360 BA overall, .322 against ACC pitchers. So, not that bad.

    Todd Boss

    14 Jul 22 at 9:39 pm

  16. That’s a lot better for Parada in the ACC than for Berry in the SEC. Makes it sound like Berry would be even more of a reach for the Nats.

    Just two more days until the draft!


    15 Jul 22 at 7:22 am

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