Major League Baseball’s All-Star game takes place in Cleveland next week, and while the overall fan attendance at stadiums has been declining, I’d expect there to be a full house at Progressive Field on Tuesday.
Fans of the game will get to see some of the best talent in the league, playing in the MLB All-Star game, but it’s the event that takes place the day before, the Home Run Derby, that has my attention.
Maybe it’s because I covered one of the most epic home run derby performances in my time as a baseball fan. I’ll take you back to 2015, in Cincinnati, Ohio. I remember that day like it was yesterday. The Reds’ own Todd Frazier taking down Joc Pederson, it was a perfect ending. Triumphantly, Frazier lifted a championship belt like a wrestler as the hometown crowd went wild. It was certainly one of those goosebumps moments.
Those are the moments we love to see as sports fans, and maybe we’ll get that excitement this year. I mean when you think about it, this season is all about the “longball.” MLB teams have combined for 3,421 dingers through the halfway point. The surging Minnesota Twins lead the league with 161 homers, followed by the Seattle Mariners with 155.
So I’m guessing if these power hitters destroy baseballs off of some of the top pitchers in the league, this setting will allow the participants to put up some of the biggest numbers in Home Run Derby history. And what is interesting, is this year’s participants have an average age of 25.43 years old, making it the youngest group in Derby history:
National League MVP in the Brewers’ Christian Yelich; one of the most hyped prospects in years in the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerreo Junior; a pair of returning competitors looking to avenge previous defeats in the Astros’ Alex Bergman and the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson; the front-runner for the NL Rookie of the Year Award in the Mets’ Pete Alonso; the hometown favorite in the Indians’ Carlos Santana; one of the breakout stars of 2019 in the Pirates’ Josh Bell; and a young phenom who has lit up the league in the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Junior.
While there is always the ongoing talk of this event ruining the participants swings, guys like Christian Yelich aren’t really worried about it.
“It’s batting practice. Each round is four minutes. How much damage can you do to your swing in four minutes? It’s 12 total minutes if you go all the way,” said Yelich.
Lets be honest here, he’s also probably thinking about the bigger picture as well, the fact that for the first time in the Derby the winner will be awarded a cool $1 million dollars. That’s enough for me to go three rounds of taking batting practice!