Pedro Moura of The Athletic reports that Dodgers infielder Max Muncy said on the club’s radio station that he will participate in the Home Run Derby. The Derby will be held at Nationals Park one week from now as part of the All-Star Game festivities.
Muncy, 27, has had a breakout season for the Dodgers. He’s hitting .270/.407/.610 with 20 home runs and 38 RBI in 248 plate appearances. He was called up in mid-April to help cover third base after Logan Forsythe went down with an injury. After Justin Turner returned from the disabled list in mid-May, Muncy started drawing starts at first base, sharing the position with Cody Bellinger.
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is currently the only other confirmed participant in the 2018 Home Run Derby. So far, we’ve had more stars publicly decline participating — Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez — than opt in.
Judge won last year’s derby, edging the Twins’ Miguel Sanó in the final round, 11-10. The other participants last year were Stanton, Bellinger, Gary Sánchez, Mike Moustakas, Charlie Blackmon, and Justin Bour.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?