Yesterday, I wrote about how the Home Run Derby should be a fun event full of showing off character, rather than boring players who happen to hit the ball out of the park often. I also promised that I’d give my wishlist for the 2018 Home Run Derby, and here it is.
They need to be able to put on a show in a home run hitting contest, but there aren’t many guys on my perfect home run derby roster that come from the Adam Dunn slugger mold like Judge. I won’t include guys who have actively come out and said they won’t be in the competition either.
Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals
This was perhaps the easiest choice to make. Not only has Harper proven once again this year that he is able to hit the ball a mile, but he has one of the most popular faces in the game today.
— UA Baseball (@UABaseball) June 30, 2018
With the all-star festivities being in our nation’s capital this season, Harper seems to be a shoe-in for this competition, as he should be. He was the second National Leaguer to get to 20 home runs this season and despite overall production on a decline from where he was at in previous years, his power is still there.
Not only is he a stud at the plate, Harper is also an insanely recognizable name. It’s very possible that casual fans, or fans of primarily other sports, will be watching the Derby as one of their only taste of baseball until the playoffs, so having someone like Harper is going to be a good idea, especially with Mike Trout telling Dan Patrick he will not participate.
Javier Baéz, 2B, Chicago Cubs
Baez was another one which was an easy pick for me. Though he is known primarily for his glove, Baéz is a guy who is looking to hit a home run every time up. While he doesn’t touch Harper in the number of home runs hit this year, he does have a share for the lead on the NL’s best offense.
Javier Baez’s home run swing is beautiful. pic.twitter.com/u1bJNCTIgI
— Cubs Live (@Cubs_Live) June 27, 2018
Baez also has the power to hit some gargantuan home runs, and bringing his swagger to the event would be an obvious plus. I’ve mentioned before how the MLB needs to embrace Baez’s personality, and at an event like this is perfect timing.
The Cubs have one of the largest, widest-reaching fanbases in the league, so having a representative from their team is a huge plus.
Yasiel Puig, RF, Los Angeles Dodgers
I could pretty much copy and paste everything I said about Baez and put it here. Much like Baez, Yasiel Puig is one of the most fun players in baseball right now. While his on-the-field antics are a lot of fun, his play backs it up.
Yasiel Puig didn't want to miss a second of his first career postseason home run pic.twitter.com/PQOhaZ4qqA
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 15, 2017
Puig does only have nine home runs on the year, so having him in this competition would be a questionable move if it were truly a test of the MLB’s best home run hitter. However, Puig undoubtedly makes the Derby more fun to watch, which is why he is here.
Oh, and he can hit moonshots also.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, New York Yankees
Stanton, who finished last year with 59 home runs as a Marlin, hasn’t explicitly said that he won’t participate in the Home Run Derby. What hasn’t been said about the mountain of a man that is Giancarlo Stanton?
Giancarlo Stanton with the hardest hit home run of the season at 119.5 mph 😳😳😳 pic.twitter.com/lp4EamWqY9
— Baseball King™ (@BasebaIlKing) June 7, 2018
He can MASH. He’s shown time and time again that he has the ability to hit a baseball further than one would think is humanly possible. It got him a 9-digit contract, a trade to baseball’s marquee franchise, and a spot near the top of the most recognizable faces in baseball.
As long as he wants to participate, the Derby isn’t the same without Stanton. He needs to represent the Yankees.
Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Seattle Mariners
Now I am not sure if the MLB has rules against this, but if they don’t, Ichiro HAS to represent the Mariners in the Home Run Derby.
— Carlos Yamazaki (@masashicarlos) June 13, 2018
It’s long been documented that Ichiro can hit tanks during batting practice. Now that he’s in a front office role, his only playing of the sport is during batting practice, and he still goes yard with regularity.
Since the Derby is essentially just batting practice, this makes sense. The Mariners and their manager Scott Servais want Ichiro in the Derby, so I say we get it done!
Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Indians
I believe that the league leader in home runs should be in the derby every year. However, since J.D. Martinez, the league-leader in home runs has decided against participating in the Derby, the #2 guy on the home run leaderboard takes the crown.
— All Sport News (@All_SportNews) July 1, 2018
Ramirez deserves individual distinction like this, as he is often portrayed as the sidekick to shortstop Francisco Lindor. However, that shouldn’t be the case. Ramirez is putting together a resume that makes him look like the second-best player in baseball this year, and he deserves individual recognition.
You wouldn’t think it by looking at him, but Ramirez has an outside shot of getting to thirty home runs by the all-star break. Give him a derby nod.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers
Perhaps one of the most fascinating stories in the league this year is the Milwaukee Brewers and their extended reign over the NL Central division. While acquisitions Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain haven’t stolen the show, someone has. Jesus Aguilar.
— Last Take (@RealLastTake) June 23, 2018
Aguilar has been up-and-down for a couple years but finally got his opportunity this year. And he seized it. Aguilar is likely going to be Milwaukee’s rep at the all-star game and sits third in the NL in home runs with nineteen.
Aguilar has plenty of power and should be able to put on a good show in DC.
Michael Lorenzen, P, Cincinnati Reds
We’ve long talked about having a home run derby solely for pitchers, filled with such guys as Jake Arrieta, Madison Bumgarner, and Zach Greinke. However, this year, one name has stolen the show at the plate, and that is Michael Lorenzen.
Michael Lorenzen has homered in three straight at-bats pic.twitter.com/18K8o5g92z
— Baseball Players™ (@BaseballPIayers) July 2, 2018
Lorenzen has hit three home runs in the past two weeks, including a grand slam against Aguilar and the Brewers. Lorenzen doubled as a two-way player in college, so he knows how to handle the bat, and he’s shown that. Lorenzen’s first career home run made headlines a few years back, as he hit it in his first game after coming off the Bereavement List following the passing of his father.
In all reality, he likely doesn’t stand a chance against the game’s top sluggers, but it would definitely be fun to watch. As I’ve stated over and over again, that’s the point of the event.