The 2018 Home Run Derby is less than three weeks away, and Major League Baseball has yet to announce teams. Two Yankees, however, have already ruled out the competition. Reigning champion Aaron Judge declined a sequel earlier this spring, while rookie sensation Gleyber Torres downplayed interest in the event. “I’m not a home-run hitter,” Torres told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. “I’m a contact hitter.”
That crosses out two stars off the bat. If only the Yankees had another option to send to the event. What would such a player look like, though? Consider this résumé.
Objective: To secure a position in the 2018 Major League Baseball Home Run Derby
Education: BA, Dingers A&M, summa cum laude
Experience: Led Major League Baseball in home runs in 2014 and 2017
Selected to four All-Star teams
Participated in two Home Run Derbys, winning the event in 2016
Awards: National League Most Valuable Player (2017)
Silver Slugger (2014, 2017)
National League Hank Aaron Award Winner (2014, 2017)
Skills: Hitting monster home runs
Wouldn’t you know it, but the Yankees have the very platonic form of a home run hitter on their roster in Giancarlo Stanton. He’s a Derby regular and won the whole shebang in 2016. If that résumé didn’t convince you he belongs, then allow me to present Exhibit B to the audience.
Upon reviewing the evidence, it becomes clear that the question cannot focus on why Stanton should participate in the Home Run Derby. Instead, it must be: “Why hasn’t Stanton been named to the team yet?”
Having Stanton in the Home Run Derby is good for baseball. If you don’t believe me, read this classic by Grant Brisbee. As a member of the Marlins, he almost singlehandedly rejuvenated interest in the event. Imagine how much of an impact he would have launching dingers while wearing a Yankees hat? The most prolific home run hitting team in baseball needs to be represented, and Stanton is just the man to do it.
It’s important to remember that no scientific evidence exists connecting the Home Run Derby to a decline in performance in the second half. I know Judge slumped last season, but that doesn’t outweigh the benchmark research. For what it’s worth, Stanton posted a 175 wRC+ in the second half last season. In 2016, he mustered a 109 wRC+ in the second half, but he only registered a mark 119 before the All-Star break that year. It’s safe to say the Derby did’t bother him.
“I haven’t thought about it,” Stanton said of the Home Run Derby to Pete Caldera earlier this week. He should start thinking. And baseball should start lobbying him on it. We need this, Giancarlo. Do it for the dingers.