The Yankees are set to enter the 2018 season with a locked and loaded lineup, and on Saturday, newly-signed slugger Giancarlo Stanton gave them a sneak preview of what’s to come. The 28-year-old outfielder went ham on a 1-2 pitch from Mets right-hander Matt Harvey in the fifth inning and padded the Yankees’ 5-1 lead with a two-run laser to center field.
It’s been something of an understated spring for Stanton, who was 6-for-19 with zero home runs prior to Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest. Still, there’s every reason to believe that we’ll be seeing a lot more power from the reigning NL MVP once the Yankees kick off their season against the Blue Jays on March 29.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.