I am sick of Pete Alonso. Every year, this guy shows up to the Midsummer Classic and cashes in $1 million for winning the MLB Home Run Derby. (It was only the last two years, but still.)
The Polar Bear is back in 2022 to defend his crown against a field that includes sluggers like Kyle Schwarber, Juan Soto, Ronald Acuña and Albert Pujols, among others. The problem? It’s going to be an absolute snoozefest.
The best home run derbies of all time have featured some of the greatest players of all time. Think back to Mark McGwire crushing balls over Fenway’s Green Monster, Sammy Sosa annihilating 500-foot home runs in Miller Park, Ken Griffey Jr. nearly denting the B&O Warehouse in Baltimore and Josh Hamilton’s immaculate 28-dinger first round in the Bronx.
Are we supposed to believe guys like Jose Ramirez, Corey Seager and Julio Rodriguez are capable of dropping our jaws in similar fashion? No.
Look, the new swing-until-your-muscles-don’t-let-you format is much better than the old one. The problem is it rewards consistent, compact strokes from guys like Alonso, which means we’re robbed of the mammoth home runs that made this event the great Midsummer Classic staple it once was.
Instead of this just being an article about me complaining, I fixed this year’s derby field.
The Only Exciting Choice This Year is Albert Pujols
Let’s make this easier and just break down player-by-player why this year’s field is hot garbage, save for “The Machine.”
Pete Alonso: Alonso deserves to be here because he’s the back-to-back king, but man is he just the worst type of tryhard. After winning in 2021 thanks to the Coors Field-aided thin air, he was hilariously cocky. These are two very real lines he uttered: “I think I’m the best power hitter on the planet” and “there was no point where I thought I was going to lose. Ever.” Alonso isn’t even close to the best power hitter. Delusion taints the water in Queens, I suppose. I do give him credit for donating portions of his winnings, however.
Kyle Schwarber: Schwarbs actually isn’t all that bad of a choice, because he has the light-tower power that belongs in this event. His National League-leading 29 home runs make him an obvious choice. One gripe is that he isn’t a true superstar like some of the guys I’ll get to.
Ronald Acuña: I love the idea of Acuña in the derby because he’s one of the game’s youngest and most exciting stars. But he just participated in the 2019 edition of the derby and was ousted by none other than Alonso. We don’t need to see that again.
Juan Soto: Copy and paste from what you just read. Soto was taken down by Alonso in 2021. Can we get some new guys at the plate??
Jose Ramirez: The Cleveland Guardians infielder is having a fine season, but he’s never hit a ball farther than 450 feet. Pardon me for not wanting to see a bunch of wall-scrapers.
Corey Seager: Meh. I guess it will be fun to see how Dodger Stadium reacts to Seager’s homecoming?
Julio Rodríguez: He’s killing it this year as a 21-year-old rookie. No matter how well he does in Seattle, he’ll never be Ken Griffey Jr. Still a better choice than the last two.
Albert Pujols: He’s a shell of himself and at 42 will become the oldest derby participant ever. This swan song is one I will be tuning in for, because he has a chance to win an event he’s never captured despite swinging in four others during his career.
It Isn’t a Derby Without Two Men
I was sitting down the right field line at the 2017 Home Run Derby in Miami when I came to this realization. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge — players built more like tight ends — cranked dinger after dinger with ease and proved why they’re the most powerful hitters on the planet.
Judge and Stanton need to be the faces of the event. Every year. Screw it, pivot to a new a format where every contestant has to beat both of them. Whatever gets us more swings from them.
The Bash Bros 2.0 pretty much own Statcast at this point. Their names are littered among the longest and hardest-hit home runs. Seriously, nine of the 10 hardest in terms of exit velocity belong to Stanton or Judge.
Judge won the event as a rookie in 2017. He hit four home runs that traveled over 500 feet and solidified himself as one of the game’s best power hitters. Stanton won it in 2016 after crushing 61 long balls at Petco Park. Two of those went 497 feet, one of which cleared the batter’s eye.
Stanton said this season he was open to participating this year, so what happened? Considering both of the game’s most-feared sluggers are both healthy at the midseason point, MLB fumbled the bag by not having even one of them in the event.
The Revised (and Correct) 2022 HR Derby Field
That leads me to what I think is a better, more exciting home run derby field. Inside it you’ll find the greatest player of our generation, the kings of swing and the flashiest player in baseball right now.
Mike Trout: UMMM, HELLO? Mike Trout has never participated in a derby, citing his desire to spend time with family during the All-Star Break. I get it. But Mike, baseball has been desperately begging you to be the face of the sport and market yourself. Go launch some meatballs into outer space, please.
Pete Alonso: He’s a fine choice because he deserves it. I just don’t love it.
Albert Pujols: The Machine has had a legendary career, and one more derby is just awesome. Definitely the right pick.
Giancarlo Stanton: Chicks (and everyone else) dig the long ball. That’s all I really need to say.
Aaron Judge: Ditto.
Jazz Chisholm Jr: He’ll probably eurostep his way up to the plate if he ever participated in the derby. He’ll pop his chain and bat flip after winning it, too. The Miami Marlins second baseman is the most electric player the game has right now.
Shohei Ohtani: I mean, it doesn’t hurt to include an international superstar who is Babe Ruth-like and already has an MVP under his belt. He’s so good and yet so incredibly humble and charming that he needs to be included, especially after he hit 28 dingers in one round last year.
Yordan Alvarez: The Houston Astors slugger can crush with the best of them, plus he’s having a terrific season. I’m talking Barry Bonds-like season. And you know what? One lefty just wasn’t enough.