Five of the eight slots for the 2019 Home Run Derby have been filled, MLB.com’s Thomas Harrigan reports. The Indians’ Carlos Santana, the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Brewers’ Christian Yelich, the Mets’ Pete Alonso, and the Pirates’ Josh Bell will take their hacks in the contest on Monday, July 8 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
In his return to Cleveland, Santana has clearly been his team’s best hitter, a no-brainer to represent his city. Entering Sunday, he was batting .291/.411/.536 with 18 home runs and 48 RBI in 348 plate appearances.
Yelich and Alonso are No. 1 and No. 2 in home runs with 29 and 28, respectively. Bell has 22 round-trippers. Guerrero got off to a slow start following his major league debut in late April, but has brought his OPS up around the league average with eight home runs in 225 plate appearances.
The Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr. is also believed to be participating, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet. Acuña has performed well in his sophomore season, posting an .876 OPS with 19 home runs in 381 PA.
The rest of the field will be confirmed by 10 PM ET on Wednesday.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.