Shohei Ohtani might be the most athletic specimen of this generation. The man can throw 100 mph as a starting pitcher and hit 450-foot home runs on the same day.
He’s must-see television that the whole world needs to see.
So, what did he do last week? He released a hype video announcing he’s participating in this year’s Home Run Derby.
THIS is going to be fun.
The NBA Slam Dunk Contest has received criticism in the past for not getting their biggest names to participate in the event. Still, the Home Run Derby has been excellent at not only being able to get their biggest stars on the big stage, but they’ve also been able to CREATE stars in the process through the moments.
In 2019, we got two rookies showcased: Pete Alonso and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. In 2017, the world was taken by storm by the behemoth of the Yankees with the humble charm, Aaron Judge. In 2013-14, Yoenis Cespedes broke out in the league, winning back-to-back years.
It’s a wonderful event with low pressure for the players, and it allows the fans to see their favorites go head-to-head doing superhuman things.
With 8 spots and 1 now occupied by Ohtani, here are the other 7 players who should be competing against him in the tournament.
He’s the reigning champion who went back-and-forth with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. back in 2019, which was unforgettable- it was incredibly charming. They were both rookies that broke out as power-hitters on this
grand stage and now are elevated as stars for more reasons than just hitting the ball 500 feet. Pete’s earnings that night ($1 million) were nearly double what he was making that year on his rookie salary! Let the man defend his crown.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
He deserves another shot and WILL win one eventually if he continues to participate.
Vladdy has evolved now, too- slimmed down around 50 pounds lighter, he may be the most-complete hitter in baseball, leading the league in homers, and is the favorite to win AL MVP so far.
Fernando Tatis Jr.
22 homers so far. He had the grand slam heard ‘round the world last year. He’s the face of baseball and the future of the league. That’s how you get all eyes on the event.
He’s on a bit of a cold streak now with the losing streak the Rangers have been on, but Garcia and his 17 homers thus far lead the league for a while to begin the season, half of which were either game-tying or go-ahead, so he’s a clutch hitter. He’s a 28-year-old rookie that defected from Cuba 5 years ago and was cut by the Cardinals, and he and his power deserve to be a star since he’s playing on a losing team that will get buried underneath headlines.
We’ve seen this event create big names in the past and elevate careers, and it’s the perfect way to grow the game.
Ronald Acuna Jr.
From the yellow Venezuelan yellow sleeve accessories to the gold chains that dangle to imitating Vince Carter in the 2000 NBA Dunk Contest after hitting a walk-off, Ronald Acuna Jr. is the ultimate showman. He’s been near the top of the home run leaderboards at 19 this year, and he fell in the semis to eventual champion Pete Alonso in 2019, so I’m sure he’ll want to get back out there and try again.
Everything he does looks effortless, blowing bubbles with swagger hitting mammoth shots, and that’s the beauty of the home run derby: athletic titans doing superhuman things repeatedly just because they can.
This would be quite an interesting story. Nolan Arenado is getting paid by the Rockies to play for the Cardinals since they traded him and failed to build a team around him after he signed an 8-year, $260 million deal in Colorado. Where is All-Star Weekend this year? That’s right! Coors Field in Denver. Nolan isn’t one of the big-time sluggers, mainly known for his Platinum Glove-level fielding at third base, but he has 13 this year and led the NL 3 seasons in the past during a 5-year stretch where he hit 42, 41, 37, 38, and 41.
The power is there. Despite wanting out due to frustration, the Colorado fans still love him and understood his anger towards former GM Jeff Bridich. It would be great to see him return home to his former park, get cheered by the fans that rooted for him for seven seasons, and give the Rockies front office one grand curb-stomping for everyone to see.
Hear me out: Carlos Correa is not a power-hitter and has 14 this year, but what’s one of the greatest ratings bonanza in sports television? Sports villains. Correa knows that everyone hates the Astros for cheating to win a World Series, and while other Astros players have felt the shame of the public and have some regrets, he’s leaned into being the heel.
When they advanced in the playoffs last year, he was quoted taking a shot at all of the haters saying, “I know a lot of people are mad. I know a lot of people don’t want to see us here. But what are they going to say now?”
We’re still going to say you cheated and boo, Carlos.
We collectively root for derby participants to hit as many impressive homers as possible, like good fun on an off-weekend. It would be INCREDIBLE to see Correa go up there hitting bombs to a sea of boos as everyone waits for him to swing and whiff and him passive-aggressively loving every bit of it, taking a bow to enrage the crowd.
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