Baseball is back to the time where balls are flying out of stadiums left and right. The MLB has Aaron Judge, J.D. Martinez, Mike Trout, and even little Mookie Betts hitting bomb after bomb. Still none of those guys are going to be in the home run derby this year.
Similarly to the NBA Dunk Contest, the derby seems like it is on a downward trajectory in terms of acquiring superstars to participate. Last year the MLB did get Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Giancarlo Stanton to take part last year, but none of them are returning to the contest this season.
So if the MLB does not get to pick and choose who competes in the derby, who are some guys that could create an entertaining contest in Washington this year?
Bryce Harper, RF Washington Nationals: Harper has already said he will participate in the derby if he gets selected to the All-Star game. Due to his stardom, and the fact that the game is in Washington this season, Harper will almost certainly be selected to the game, making him the main attraction at this years derby.
Evan Gattis, C/DH Houston Astros: Gattis is a great story. Also known as “El Oso Blanco”, Gattis struggled with addiction before making it to the MLB. Now clean, Gattis uses his 6’4″ 270 pound frame to crush home runs for the ‘Stros. It would be fun to see the grizzly looking Gattis step into the box and use his raw power to hit shots out of the park. With his big beard and barehandedness up at the plate, Gattis has become the MLB’s Paul Bunyan. He needs to be in the derby this year.
Joey Gallo, 1B/3B/OF Texas Rangers: This masher from the Rangers is this decades version of Adam Dunn. Lots of strikeouts but also lots of bombs. When he does make contact the ball travels. Gallo has the ability to hit the ball 500+ feet and would be one of the favorites to win.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B Milwaukee Brewers: Aguilar has burst onto the scene this year hitting 19 home runs through 72 games after hitting 16 in 133 games last year. Still, it isn’t like his power is something new. In his MLB career Aguilar has stepped up to the plate 557 times, a full season worth of at-bats. In those 557 plate appearances Aguilar has 35 bombs.
People love an underdog story and finally getting his chance to produce at 28-years-old, people could rally around the first baseman if he gets the opportunity to participate in the derby.
Matt Olson, 1B Oakland Athletics: When talking about power, Olson has to be brought up. He hit 24 homers in only 59 games last year. No that is not a typo.
This season hasn’t gone quite as well, but Olson still has 18 dingers in 85 games. Olson didn’t start the year so hot (hitting only 2 homers in April) but has proceeded to hit 15 homers in May and June.
Olson is very similar to the aforementioned Gallo (both big, powerful, strikeout-prone lefties) and if both took part in the All-Star Game festivity, it could turn a good ‘ol fashioned AL West mash-off.
Others to consider: Kyle Schwarber, Trevor Story, Mike Zunino, Max Muncy, Rafeal Devers
-Jarrod Ribaudo (@Jribs53)