Major League Baseball has completed several agreements with the player’s union over the past week, on a variety of topics. Many of those were larger changes such as a three-batter minimum for relievers, a singular trade deadline, and a 26-man roster in the future, but they also implemented a small but cool change to the Home Run Derby. Now the winner will receive $1 million, a clear incentive to make the game’s stars to want to participate.
MLB would love to get the best players involved, but one Yankee slugger has already given his verdict. Aaron Judge, winner of the 2017 Derby, will not participate in a second contest, saying that he doesn’t want to risk another injury like the shoulder strain he sustained during the All-Star break that year. It’s unfortunate that Judge won’t participate because he arguably put on one of the best Derby performances ever, but plenty of players have been superstitious about the Derby and messing with their swings.
It’s not clear if we’ll see Giancarlo Stanton perform in the Derby again either. Stanton is a veteran of two Derbies, winning the 2016 edition in San Diego before failing to defend his title in 2017. He’s also set on a mammoth contract, so $1 million probably isn’t enough to move the needle. The Yankees do boast a lineup that just broke MLB’s single season home run record though, so there’s plenty of candidates that could give it a go for the first time.
The first face that comes to mind has to be Luke Voit. The first baseman showcased his power in a short window after coming over from the Cardinals, hitting 14 home runs in just 39 games. Assuming he wins the battle to start at first this season, Voit will be in an excellent opportunity to launch a few more and gain enough credibility to gain an invite. Plus, his hop step after he gets into a ball has become a signature of his swing, so getting to see it 20-plus times would be funny.
The Yankees got a lot of power out of the bottom of their lineup last year, and that was driven by the quick success of Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres. They’ll be getting paid big money eventually, but for now they’re on rookie deals so giving them the chance to chase a quick million would be nice, and they’ve got enough pop to compete. Picture the two phenom infielders taking the field, one tossing to the other as they each belt their way through the rounds.
If neither of those options interests you, there is another fun one. Brett Gardner isn’t known as a home run hitter, but he launched a career high 21 back in 2017, and he’s apparently enthusiastic about the chance. The odds of him winning wouldn’t be great, but it would be entertaining to see Gardy give it a go.
Which Yankees would you like to see in the Home Run Derby?