Carlos Gonzalez isn’t too banged up to play for the Rockies or to participate in next week’s All-Star Game, but due to his finger injury, he has opted out of Monday’s Home Run Derby.
Replacing Gonzalez on the NL squad is Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez is tied with the Phillies’ Domonic Brown for second place in the league with 23 homers, one behind Gonzalez. Yet both Alvarez and Brown went unpicked as NL captain initially selected Michael Cuddyer and Bryce Harper to round out his four-man squad.
Alvarez probably was the best choice of the options. While Brown has just as many homers, his average homer has been estimated at just 380.5 feet. That ranks dead last among all players with at least 10 homers, according to Hittrackeronline.com. Alvarez comes in at 406.7 feet, which, while not approaching Justin Upton’s MLB-best 428.0 mark, is at least above the median. He also leads the majors with nine “no doubt” home runs, as hittrackeronline describes them.
The 26-year-old Alvarez is a first-time All-Star this year. He’s recovered from a lousy April to hit .253/.315/.521 with 60 RBI in 82 games to date.
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.