Roy Halladay gave up a homer to Alex Rodriguez in his first spring start, which is fine because that’s Alex Rodriguez, the active major league leader in home runs.
In his second spring start, Halladay gave up two homers to Eric Patterson, a journeyman most famous for being the younger brother of a former top prospect turned journeyman.
In his third spring start, Halladay gave up two more homers, these to a Twins team that wasn’t hitting anyone this spring. Granted, they did come off the bats of better hitters than Patterson: Josh Willingham hit the first, with prospect Chris Parmelee delivering the second.
Add it up and Halladay has allowed five homers in 7 2/3 innings this spring. That’s one more than he allowed in his final 19 starts of 2011 (and, by the way, nine of those 19 starts lasted longer than 7 2/3 innings).
So, what’s wrong with Roy Halladay? Probably nothing. Still, this isn’t like him in the least. Not typically a slow starter, he made it through last spring allowing a total of one run in 21 2/3 innings. He did give up five homers in his final spring with the Jays in 2009, but that was spread over 33 innings and he ended up with a 3.27 ERA.
The current reports suggest Halladay’s velocity is just fine. His location obviously isn’t, but he’ll have a couple of more starts with which to sort that out. If he’s still getting lit up at the end of the spring, there will be some reason for concern. Right now, there isn’t.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.