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.
- #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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.