The annual All-Star Game festivities are just nine days away, which means we’re nine days closer to watching the best sluggers in professional baseball light up the Marlins’ home run machine during the Home Run Derby. Not everyone is prepared to take on reigning Derby champ Giancarlo Stanton, however. Rangers’ third baseman Joey Gallo reportedly declined his invitation to the home run contest, telling reporters that he didn’t feel he had earned the right to compete against more seasoned All-Stars.
“I don’t feel comfortable doing it right now in my career,” the slugger said, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. “I just want to put my head down and do what I need to do to get better. If I get a little more well-rounded as a hitter, I’d like to do it. But I’m not an All-Star and I respect that you should earn it. Others deserve it more than me.”
Entering Saturday, the 23-year-old infielder has racked up 21 home runs so far this season, blowing well past his previous single-season record of six home runs and ranking fifth among all major league batters in total homers. In fact, he hasn’t been able to anything but mash taters for the Rangers, dragging a .194 average and .301 on-base percentage through his first 279 PA. It’s this lack of well-roundedness that has likely precluded him from an All-Star nomination, though Grant points out that Derby selections aren’t limited to the pool of All-Stars.
Then again, some may argue that entering a competition against renowned slugger Giancarlo Stanton is a fool’s errand to begin with (unless, perhaps, your name begins with “Aaron” and ends with “Judge”). Through Friday’s games, 14 major league batters boast at least 20 home runs in 2017, including league-leader Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, Justin Smoak, Eric Thames, and so on. At least one other contender has officially committed to the task so far: Twins’ third baseman Miguel Sano, who carries 18 home runs to Stanton’s 21 this year.