I don’t really care that much about the competition aspects of the Home Run Derby. I do, however, like to see mammoth blasts for their own sake, either in sheer distance or in quantity. After all, what’s the most memorable Home Run Derby thing ever? Josh Hamilton putting on the laser show at Yankee Stadium, right? Well, he didn’t even win the competition that year, so who cares?
Which means that fame of the player or even home run count at the break doesn’t mean much to me as far as that competition goes. Just give me big strong dudes, even if they’re merely Wily Mo Pena-style BP-only guys.
Giancarlo Stanton is certainly better than that — he’s sporting an .886 OPS right now — but given what he’s done in BP and on random home runs over the past couple of years, he should be in the Derby whether he’s an All-Star or not. Which makes this, from Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, welcome news:
Giancarlo Stanton landed a ball in the center-field, upper-deck seats at Marlins Park during batting practice Wednesday, leaving his disbelieving teammates shaking their heads. The Marlins’ 22-year-old slugger will be putting his power on display for an entire country to see on July 9 when he takes part in the Home Run Derby in Kansas City.
Stanton confirmed that he was chosen to participate.
“We’re in there,” he said as he trotted off the field following batting practice.
I predict many fountain shots at Kauffman Stadium.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.