Tonight is the night where grown men hit baseballs very far into crowds of people who have all brought their gloves in the hopes of catching a little piece of history. The Home Run Derby is a midseason celebration of power, punch, and dingers. The sweet swing of Ken Griffey, Jr. Yoenis Cespedes, Sammy Sosa, and Josh Hamilton have all taken part. Hell, Todd Frazier won the damn thing in 2015 in front of a raucous crowd at the Great American Ballpark.
However, this year the field doesn’t have the same gravitas as normal. This year’s Home Run Derby isn’t so much a “Who’s Who” of the league’s power-hitters, but more of a “Where Are They?” That’s because for the first time in almost a decade the Home Run Derby won’t featured more than 3 of the Top 10 sluggers in 2018.
In Previous Years
Normally the Home Run Derby has included, at the very least, 3 hitters who are in the top 10 for most home runs in the first half. 2017’s Home Run Derby had a whopping 5 contestants including first place Aaron Judge, with his 30 homers in the first half, who would eventually win the competition.
Since 2010, only two other competitions failed to land the league’s home run leader, the 2014 and 2015 competitions. However, both contests still had 3 of the top 10 swinging for the fences.
Does the Home Run Derby need these offensive juggernauts to compete in the Derby? Absolutely not, but it adds to the excitement of the competition. The most memorable Home Run Derby of my life will forever be the 1999 ASG at Fenway Park. It felt like Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffery, Jr. and Mark McGwire were going to hit the International Space Station. Instead, they shattered some windows on Lansdowne Street. That power could be felt through every TV screen that tuned in.
After the dust cleared and Ken Griffey raised the trophy over his head, leaving no doubt he was the Home Run King.
There will be no King crowned at tonight’s Derby. The rightful challengers to the throne aren’t even in the competition. Last year’s winner Aaron Judge, isn’t even in the competition. So why should I watch it?
Give Us The Responsibility
With all the controversy surrounding the All-Star Game and the voting process, this is the one area where I feel we need a fan vote. Yes, the players have the final say, but I think we’re all entitled to voting for the contestants. It’s for us anyway, right? Why not give the fans what they want?
I can assure you it’s not Alex Bregman and Kyle Schwarber jacking dongs with nothing on the line. What we want is a fireworks display of power from the hottest bats in the league. The MLB will be hard pressed to make that happen.