Wilson Ramos was in the midst of a career year in 2016 before his late September ACL injury. He was batting .307/.354/.496 with 22 home runs and 80 RBI in 523 plate appearances and, had he not suffered his injury, he could’ve been looking at a deal worth as much as $40-50 million. He lost out on that opportunity, however and ended up signing a two-year, $12.5 million contract with the Rays, which will pay him about twice as much in 2018 than it will in 2017.
The financial hit aside, Ramos is working his way back. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Ramos went 2-for-4 with a double during an extended spring training game yesterday. He’s also been catching live batting practice sessions this week at the Rays’ spring training complex.
Ramos should be slated for a minor league rehab assignment soon and could make his debut for the Rays around the middle of June.
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.