Someone is going to hit a ball 500 feet at the domestic race Derby this year. whether the ball really is juiced – psssssst, the ball really is juiced – then pipe shots on a platter to the best power hitters in the world means finally, mercifully, the monstrosity in center field at Marlins Park will receive an assault commensurate to the one it has committed on our senses for the final five years.
The Derby reboot in 2015 – timed rounds, bonuses for long domestic runs – lent some temporary juice to an event that, like the Slam Dunk Contest, had grown tired. Here’s the truth: No matter how much the formats are tweaked, the events are only as safe as the participants.
Two of the eight in this year’s Derby are known. The first is Giancarlo Stanton. He may be the 500-foot favorite. He hit a ball 510 feet in the 2014 Derby and knows Marlins Park better than anyone. The other is Miguel Sano, the Minnesota Twins’ massive slugger. He may not be the first choice, but he’s a worthy one.
The other six spots are up for grabs, and as a connoisseur of the domestic race, I’ve taken it upon myself to approach up with the perfect complements to Stanton and Sano. In order to conclude so, I looked at a pool of 20 players and assessed their worthiness. Here are the 20, followed by a first-round slice to 10 and then, ultimately, a rendering of the six who should be there the night of July 10.
Aaron Judge: The domestic race Derby is supposed to be an event, right? Judge vs. Stanton in a long ball-hitting contest is approximately as close to a must-watch for casual fans as baseball can offer. Judge is a Yankee. He hits the ball harder than anybody – Stanton included. whether Judge declines, the Derby will be far, far worse for it.
Cody Bellinger: Ditto Bellinger. Like Judge, he’s a rookie. Like Judge, he leads his league in domestic runs. He doesn’t hit the ball as tough or as far as Judge, but for pure aesthetics, his swing is Sistine Chapel-ceiling gorgeous. To miss those majestic, glorious shots deep into the night would be a shame.
Joey Gallo: There is a safe argument that Joey Gallo exists on this soil specifically to participate in the domestic race Derby every year. This season, he has 20 domestic runs, 13 singles, 11 doubles and two triples. As a bonus, he also would be the likeliest player to swing and miss in the Derby, which, in the rare instances it occurs, provides instant entertainment.
George Springer: He hits moonshots and lasers, pull side and oppo, upper tank and Crawford Boxes. Springer is one of the most versatile domestic race hitters in baseball. The only question is: Does the Derby really need a five-tool slugger?
Bryce Harper: Only once has Harper participated in the Derby, during his moment season, and he lost in the finals to Yoenis Cespedes. He is the most well-known player in baseball. large events that are so well-suited to Harper virtually demand his participation.
Kris Bryant: The final time he was in the Derby, it was a feel-safe memoir, with his dad pitching to him. He lost in the first round. Surely he’s got more in him.
Not Happening, But …
Mike Trout: Please. Just heal in time. Really, it’s OK to approach back from a wrist injury to play in an exhibition contest that past participants apprehension led to a poor moment half. (Note: It doesn’t. The Derby Curse is not real.) What’s that? He’s not going? No chance in hell? Fine. What approximately …
Freddie Freeman: Nope. Not him, either.
Eric Thames: Here is a 30-minute audition tape. declare me this guy shouldn’t be in the Derby.
Marcell Ozuna: Two Marlins in one Derby? whether Stanton didn’t exist, Ozuna’s chances might be a lot better.
Logan Morrison: Just imagine the headline possibilities! Ex-Marlin returns to location of immense frustration and shoddy ownership, reminds city that doesn’t care approximately baseball who he is. Oh, and with 22 homers for the Rays this year, he deserves strong consideration.
Joey Votto: He’s so disciplined at the plate, you’re nearly afraid he’ll bewitch half the pitches and bomb out in the first round. An invite for Votto would serve as recognition of how incredible a hitter he is, though, and allow him to let disappear of the burdens felt to salvage on base and rip like there’s no tomorrow.
Justin Smoak: He’s a grand memoir. He’s got a lot of domestic runs. The final-name puns are domestic race Derby-broadcast gimmes.
price Reynolds: Yes, Nolan Arenado could be the candidate from Colorado. He is the Rockies’ best player. And Charlie Blackmon could construct a case as well. For pure, raw, unadulterated, distilled power, though, one cannot disappear wrong with Reynolds. He’s got the thunder to hit one 500-plus.
Gary Sanchez: Nobody hits them longer than the Yankees’ catcher, whose average domestic race this season has traveled 427 feet. In the Derby, distance things.
Ichiro Suzuki: For a decade and a half now, the lore has been that Ichiro possesses incredible pull-side power but chooses to sheath it in favor of a slap-and-sprint approach. The world deserves to see this. Not only would it allow Ichiro to stick around and give a speech to the National League the next day, the pure delight of seeing a 5-foot-9, 170-pound man competing with the leviathans of the sport would be worth far more than the price of admission. not anything other than Barry Bonds said he would win the Derby whether he entered. This may be his final season in MLB. He plays for the Marlins. conclude it. conclude it before there’s no chance to conclude it again.
Jose Altuve: He’s small and hits domestic runs and that’s chilly.
Scooter Gennett: His name is Scooter and he hit four domestic runs in a game and that’s chilly.
Kennys Vargas: This season, 124 players maintain 10 or more domestic runs already. The number at the 2016 whole-Star atomize: 129. By the halt of this week, that number will be dwarfed. Perhaps even Vargas will salvage there. At seven domestic runs, he’s the only player on this list with fewer than 10. And yet one of those domestic runs went 483 feet, another 471 feet, and that distance along makes Vargas an awfully intriguing candidate.
Yuki Yanagita: I cherish the thought of bringing the Japanese leader as a wild card to participate in the Derby every July. The problem, of course, is that the leader often is a player who wasn’t safe enough to construct it in the major leagues. This year, it’s former Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero. Among Japanese-born players, Yanagita is the guy, and he’s got some bona fides to disappear with his left-handed stroke: One time, he hit a domestic race that broke a scoreboard.
Paring Down the Field
Judge and Bellinger salvage byes. perhaps, possibly someday whole three of the Vegas boys will face off, but this isn’t the year. Gallo and Harper advance.
Now we need three more from the NL and three from the AL. The NL field is deeper, no doubt. Votto told C. Trent Rosecrans to ”Just mediate of me as the Canadian Ichiro,” which makes me wonder whether we should mediate of Ichiro as the Japanese Joey Votto. besides, they both deserve to advance. For the third, Thames and Reynolds are the two best candidates, and since the other four NL hitters are left-handed, Reynolds can be the righty complement.
Trout lost out hurts the AL. Springer’s breakout is worthy. The length of Sanchez’s homers makes him the same. And for pure salesmanship, Altuve is a marvel. Watching Altuve at 5-foot-5 conclude the same thing as Judge, who is 15 inches taller, would remind the world of how unique a game baseball really is.
Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Sano are in. Congratulations to Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger, too. That leaves four spots.
Joey Gallo is to the domestic race Derby what a la mode is to a brownie. It’s perfectly fine without but so much better with. So what whether Gallo is hitting below the Mendoza Line. He exists to hit long domestic runs at which the world gawks, and there is no better time than the Derby to gawk. Harper joins him, not just because he’s well capable of hitting balls far himself but because whenever he’s in something, it’s automatically an event.
As for the final two spots, there are no easy choices, particularly in the AL. Springer would be grand. So would Sanchez. The spectacle of Altuve, though, is too toothsome to pass up. He’s not the greatest domestic race hitter by any means, but his in-game power is very real, and he would be much more than a sideshow.
For the final spot, let’s remember: The duty of whole-Star week is to sell baseball. It’s to re-engage a fan base that has grown venerable. It’s to construct memories. And a 43-year-venerable, gray-haired wisp of a man depositing ball after ball into the right-field stands is, among many other things, memorable.
construct it happen, Major League Baseball. In the Year of the domestic race, give one of the coveted spots in the Derby to someone with only two this year. This may be Ichiro Suzuki’s final season in the major leagues, which means it may be the final opportunity to see whether the legend is lawful.
Can Ichiro beat Aaron Judge? The world wants to know. The world deserves to see.