The Home Run Derby, much like the Slam Dunk Contest, has struggled to truly catch the attention of the sports world in recent years. In 2015, a new format was implemented including a 4 minute pitch clock and a 45 second timeout. Under last years rules, any home runs over 440 ft. awarded the batter another 30 seconds, which could seriously favor players like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, who have been smashing balls nearly 500 ft. during batting practice all year long. Judge’s prodigious power is demonstrated by the fact that 20% of his league leading 28 home runs have travelled over 440 ft., putting him in the position to potentially be up there swinging for closer to 6-7 minutes than the originally allotted 4 minutes, which is something we all want to see.
Another story coming out of the derby is the Rays’ Logan Morrison’s displeasure that the Yankees Gary Sanchez was included in the Home Run Derby despite only having 13 home runs so far this year (although it should be noted Sanchez missed a month due to injury and has around 2/3rd the amount of at-bats as Morrison does so far). Morrison has 24 in what is by far his best year in his 7 year Major League Career, but Sanchez holds far more star power and appeal than he does, both due to being from a major market but also due to being a young, upcoming star who made a name for himself last year as a rookie when he smashed a record 20 home runs in his first 51 career games. While Sanchez’s numbers may not be as impressive this year, he did hit 9 homers in the month of June, showing he is starting to heat up after returning from his injury. According to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, Sanchez also holds the second furthest average distance on Home Runs (minimum 9 home runs) with an average of 420.9 ft., while LoMo fails to break the top 60 and only averages 404.4 ft., demonstrating that while Morrison may have more, Sanchez features more power and consistently hits impressive home runs.
Regardless of whether you think it should’ve been Morrison or Sanchez, there is no denying that this years home run derby is shaping up to be a memorable one, with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton hopefully coming face to face in a battle of brute power.