The All-Star Game Home Run Derby participants were announced the other night. No one takes any issue with rookie phenom Aaron Judge being invited. Or Giancarlo Stanton. Cody Bellinger is hitting the daylights out of the ball. Mike Moustakas is having a career year.
But one guy isn’t happy with one choice. The unhappy guy: Rays first baseman Logan Morrison. The guy he’s unhappy with: Gary Sanchez of the Yankees, who Morrison does not believe belongs on the Derby squad. From the Tampa Bay Times:
Gary shouldn’t be there,” Morrison said. “Gary’s a great player, but he shouldn’t be in the Home Run Derby.”
Morrison has a pretty good case to be included, with 24 homers that, going into play Tuesday, ranked second most in the majors. Sanchez, who joins teammate Aaron Judge among the four AL players in the eight-man field, had 13 homers.
“I remember when I had 14 home runs,” Morrison said. “That was a month and a half ago.”
Morrison does have 24 homers to Sanchez’s 13. And Morrison is having a much better season at the plate than Sanchez. But that sort of doesn’t matter because the Home Run Derby — and the All-Star Game itself for that matter — is not about first half numbers. At least not entirely.
A lot of it is about which players the fans want to see. That’s why starters are voted upon and why not all starters are the guys having the best seasons. There’s a healthy debate about all of this and, in turn, a healthy mix of famous “stars” on the one hand and guys having great partial seasons on the other. While this may have been a bigger problem back when the All-Star Game determined home field advantage in the World Series, it doesn’t anymore. Making the whole event into something the fans want is what it is and what it should be all about.
The Home Run Derbry, while not voted on by the fans, is an extension of that thinking. Aaron Judge could be having a totally flukey four months and may become a pedestrian player one day but he’s a beast and a half right now, destroying baseballs, so he’s there. Giancarlo Stanton “only” has 21 homers and has had better years in the past but you’d be crazy to think he wouldn’t be there given his power, his reputation and his past success in the event.
So too is it the case with Sanchez. He’s having a good first half for a catcher, but he’s not among the league leaders in anything, in large part because he missed a month with an injury. But that doesn’t matter because he wowed baseball last season by hitting a whole bunch of homers in a really short period of time. Which just so happens to be the object of the Home Run Derby. People want to see him.
Do people really want to see Logan Morrison? Judging by the vote tally in the Final Vote for the All-Star Game, I’d say not: he’s currently dead last among the five available choices.
Sorry, Logan. The people have spoken, implicitly or otherwise.