The derby had it all last night; suspenseful finishes, hometown energy, and the dominance of the game’s newest prolific power hitter. Aaron Judge walked away the new Home Run King in what was one of the most exciting displays of talent we’ve ever seen in the Home Run Derby.
The first round brought us the two most exciting matchups of the night: Gary Sanchez vs Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Judge vs Justin Bour. Sanchez and Stanton provided an exciting matchup, as Sanchez put on a show (17 HRs), proving to Logan Morrison and all the other haters that he did belong in the derby.
Stanton followed with a slow start, but caught fire in the middle of the round, as he and his pitcher seemed to be working much quicker than the competition. He tired, though, coming up just short with 16 HRs. It was disappointing to many people, myself included, to see Stanton eliminated so early. Not only because of his home run hitting prowess, but also because of the possibility of a Judge vs Stanton match-up. Stanton advancing would’ve energized the home town crowd, too.
Stanton’s lesser known, oft overlooked teammate, Justin Bour, put on an amazing performance, blasting 22 HRs in the first round. He really put his stamp on the competition when he inhaled a donut during his timeout, though, showing that Team Fat Guy wasn’t to be messed with. The crowd was electric watching Bour, and I think most casual fans can’t help but love him after last night’s act.
Unfortunately, for those of us who fell in love with Bour over that 4:30 stretch, Aaron Judge demolished 23 HRs, stealing the show.
Judge was untouchable and uncontested the rest of the night, crushing four 500+ foot HRs en route to his first HR Derby title. Lost in the fray of roof scraping, window denting HRs was Judge’s ability to muscle balls out to right field. While Sanchez, Stanton, Bour, and Sano displayed power to their pull side, Judge set himself apart as the only guy who could clear the opposite field fence on less than perfect contact.
This Home Run Derby win will likely be the first of many for young Aaron Judge.
It’s Monday, July 10 and before we launch face first into the two most boring days in the sports year, the MLB has blessed us with an incredible amount of exciting, youthful talent in the 2017 Home Run Derby and All-Star Game.
Speaking of exciting and youthful talent, the MiLB Futures All-Star Game was on the MLBN this Sunday. I wish I had a chance to write about this before it happened and I hope you had a chance to catch some of the action.
Nevertheless, if you didn’t see it and are as interested as I am in the incredibly bright future of the MLB, I highly recommend perusing the rest of the internet for articles on the game.
The Futures All-Star Game is LOADED with talent this year and is brimming with stars that we’ll be dominating the MLB in the next few years. Some notable alumni currently dominating the MLB include Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and in a great transition HR derby participants Gary Sánchez and Miguel Sano.
Home run derby
And now we’re on to the derby. The HR Derby, ESPECIALLY under the new format is one of the most exciting displays of athletic talent every year. Overall, the MLB All-Star festivities put all the other major sports to shame and the HR Derby is the cornerstone of that.
The suspense that the clock brings in to the competition is incredible. It gives every round a Game 7 kind of intensity with buzzer-beater potential for every second hitter. Although it may not seem like a long time, the three minutes allotted to each player allows for them to overcome early struggles by catching fire late.
As everyone expected, Stanton and Judge are the two favorites, but there are a couple other intriguing players in the field that could give them a run for their money.
Stanton proved last year that picking against raw power and strength may not be the best idea, but there have been winners in the past who have proved capable of winning the derby with a sweet and effortless swing (i.e. Todd Frazier, Robinson Cano, Bobby Abreu).
The guys who fit that bill this year are Blackmon, Moustakas, and Bellinger. Personally, Blackmon has almost no shot of winning and Moustakas is a long shot, so by process of elimination Bellinger is the one many have and will be keeping an eye on.
Bellinger has one of the prettiest swings in the game with which he’s mashed 25 HRs in just 70 games. He draws a favorable matchup against Blackmon in the first round, but after that, he’ll presumably have to go through Judge and Stanton, and that is a tough task for anyone.
As for the raw power bats in the competition, there is a four-horse race between Stanton, Judge, Sano, and Sanchez. Once again, when looking at match-ups, Sanchez’s road to a championship is a nightmare. With his draw, he would presumably have to go through my three favorites, Stanton, Sano, and Judge en route to a title.
His incredible odds do make him an intriguing pick though because he does have the incredible power necessary to keep up with the other big names. However, it is unlikely that he’ll pull off the upset but he’s definitely a name to watch.
Judge, on the other side of the bracket has the easiest road to the finals, facing off first against hometown hero, Justin Bour, followed by another favorable matchup against Bellinger or Blackmon. He has the swing, the strength, and path to win this thing, but you never know what the bright lights and pressure can do to a player with such lofty expectations and such little experience.
Miguel Sano poses the most intrigue in the derby as I could see him hitting three in the first round and being a complete bust or on the flip side breaking records and taking home the crown. He has such an aggressive swing that goes under the radar due to his underwhelming 2016 campaign and the fact that he plays in Minnesota. Sano should be really exciting to watch and a true threat to Stanton’s throne.
Last but not least, brings me to the reigning champ and my pick to repeat, Giancarlo Stanton.
Stanton could not have gotten a worse draw in this years’ derby as he potentially has to go through Sánchez, Sano, and Judge. But if there’s one swinger in the MLB today that’s up for the challenge, it’s Giancarlo.
Although I’ve used match-ups to dissuade you from other players in this competition, the home crowd and atmosphere on Stanton’s side give him the boost he needs to repeat. The home crowd’s impact was no joke in 2015 when it helped propel Todd Frazier to his championship and I think we’ll see a similar effect for Giancarlo.
Speaking of home field advantage, how exciting would it be to see Stanton vs Bour in the finals. Marlins Park would be buzzing with an electricity it hasn’t ever felt.
For the first time since 1984, Major League Baseball has a 10-day disabled list. With its addition, players are obviously spending less time on the DL, so this ‘roster’ may change quickly. Here’s Major League Baseball’s “all-injured team”, retroactive to May 1st: