Aaron Judge is open to participating in the Home Run Derby and MLB should want him there

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

I don’t know about you, but Aaron Judge has very quickly become one of my favorite players on the Yankees. He’s so fun to watch because he’s such an extreme outlier. Baseball players aren’t supposed to be that big, and baseball players who are that big aren’t supposed to be such good athletes and runners. We’ve seen Judge save some runs in right field and beat out infield singles already this season.

And, of course, there are the home runs. They’re why everyone loves Judge. His four home runs have averaged a healthy 399 feet, and according to Statcast, Judge is responsible for five of the 14 hardest hit balls in baseball this season, including two of the top three. The ball just explodes off his bat. Judge has all the power you’d expect from a guy listed at 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds.

Given his early season exploits, folks are already starting to wonder whether Judge will participate in the Home Run Derby this summer. It makes sense, right? Put the big guy capable of hitting long home runs in the event dedicated to big guys hitting long home runs. Randy Miller asked Judge about the Home Run Derby earlier this week. Here’s his response:

“The Home Run Derby is awesome. It’s a fun event to watch and I’d probably do it if they asked me,” said Judge. “No (I’m not worried about screwing up my swing). I’ve been in them before and I just take my normal swing that I do in batting practice and hopefully it would all work out. I’d just go out there and have fun. I wouldn’t change anything. But it would be a fun thing to do.”

Judge’s batting practices are already the stuff of legend. YES has shown clips of Judge hitting balls over the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar in center field and onto the concourse over the last week and a half. I saw him do that with my own eyes before the home opener and was amazed. But it’s normal for him. That’s just something does every day during batting practice. It’s incredible. There’s no doubt he’d be a fun Home Run Derby contestant.


Personally, I’m not worried at all about a potential Home Run Derby hangover effect. There have been several studies showing it isn’t real, like this one and this one. Pick eight players at random and inevitably one or two of them will perform worse in the second half than they did in the first. The same is true of guys who participate in the Home Run Derby. It’s just normal baseball being baseball stuff.

Anyway, I’m getting off track here. Judge indicated he’s open to participating in the Home Run Derby this summer and MLB should want him there. For a few reasons too. One, he’s a Yankee! The last Yankee to participate in the Home Run Derby was Robinson Cano in 2013. The Yankees are the most popular team in the sport and one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Put a Yankee in a Home Run Derby and he will attract viewers. No doubt about it.

Two, Judge is an exciting young up-and-coming player. MLB is trying like crazy to cultivate young fans and the single best way to attract new young fans is by showcasing your most exciting players. Judge is a freak and I mean that in the nicest way possible. Put him in the Home Run Derby and people who don’t know much about baseball are going to see him and not be able to take their eyes off him. Everything about him demands your attention.

(That’s also a reason for the Yankees to want Judge in the Home Run Derby. As MLB works to cultivate more young fans, the Yankees want as many of them as possible rooting for their team. Judge mashing dingers in the Home Run Derby would be a great “hey come root for the Yankees” sales pitch.)

And three, the power. At the end of the day, the Home Run Derby is a “hit ball far” competition with some bells and whistles. In a batting practice setting, which is essentially what the Home Run Derby is, few offer as much power as Judge. He’s going to hit the ball a mile and that’s what people want to see. MLB has brought non-All-Stars to the Home Run Derby in recent years just to ensure they showcase their top power hitters. (Giancarlo Stanton won the Home Run Derby last year but was not an All-Star. Todd Frazier also participated in the event as a non-All-Star.)

Judge has some Home Run Derby experience — he won the 2012 College Home Run Derby while at Fresno State — and while doing it at the MLB level is a heck of a lot different than doing it at the college level, he has some sort of Home Run Derby experience. It won’t be completely new to him. MLB (and the Yankees) have a lot to gain by putting Judge in their Home Run Derby and it is absolutely something they should consider when the time comes. An event like this is made for guys like him.

2016 Home Run Derby Open Thread

The 2016 All-Star festivities started last night with the Futures Game, though I’m not sure anyone noticed. MLB really needs to do a better job marketing that thing. Making it compete with regular season games is a good way to make sure no one watches.

Anyway, the All-Star break continues tonight with the Home Run Derby in Petco Park, where the Yankees just played last weekend. There are no Yankees in the Home Run Derby this year, but there is a former Yankee: Robinson Cano. Robbie returns to the event this year after representing the Yankees from 2011-13. He won it in 2011, as I’m sure you remember.

This is year two of the Home Run Derby’s fun new format. Instead of counting down outs, each player gets five minutes to hit as many homers as possible. The race against the clock is a blast. Also, players are now seeded head-to-head in the bracket style tournament. Here are this year’s matchups:

Mark Trumbo, Orioles vs. Corey Seager, Dodgers
Todd Frazier, White Sox vs. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
Adam Duvall, Reds vs. Wil Myers, Padres
Robinson Cano, Mariners vs. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins

That Cano vs. Stanton matchup looks fun as hell. I’m pretty sure I picked Myers to win on CBS somewhere, but I’m going with Cano now. No real reason, just a hunch. I’m never right with these things anyway.

The Home Run Derby starts at 8pm ET tonight and will be broadcast on ESPN. Talk about that or whatever else is on your mind right here. Have at it.

2015 Home Run Derby Open Thread

The 2015 Home Run Derby will take place tonight in Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park … maybe. It’s been raining in the Queen City for much of the afternoon — there was a severe weather warning at one point — and it’s supposed to continue raining tonight. Some forecasts seem to indicate a window will open up a little later. Hopefully that’s the case.

If the Home Run Derby is able to go down tonight, it will have a brand new format, one with a clock and head-to-head brackets. Players now get five minutes to take their swings, though they can earn additional time based on home run distance and some other stuff. Here are the rules. The last minute rules seems needlessly complicated. Here’s the brackets from MLB.com. Seeding is determined by regular season home run totals.

2015 Home Run Derby Bracket

No Yankees are in the Home Run Derby (duh) — I remember reading somewhere that Mark Teixeira said he would decline if invited, but I can’t seem to find it now — so I guess I need to make an official pick based on something more than fandom, huh? My pick is Joc Pederson. He leads all players in average home run distance (427.32 feet) and he’s young, so endurance during the five-minute hack session won’t be an issue. So yeah, Pederson’s my pick.

The Home Run Derby has been rained out once before: back in 1988, coincidentally also in Cincinnati. Hopefully it doesn’t get washed out tonight. That would be lame. The Derby is set to begin at 8pm ET and you can watch it on ESPN. Talk about the Home Run Derby or anything else right here tonight. Have at it.

Game 84: The Return of Ellsbury and Miller

Yay good players. (Presswire)
Yay good players. (Presswire)

The Yankees made two big trades today! Well, no, not really. People just like to say getting someone back from the DL is like making a trade for whatever reason. Both Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) and Andrew Miller (forearm) have rejoined the team today, so they’re whole again. Or at least closer to being whole. They still have some dudes out with injury.

Miller and especially Ellsbury will be asked to contribute right away because the offense has had trouble scoring more than three runs a game lately and because CC Sabathia is back on the mound tonight. Sabathia has not pitched well at all this year — he’s made 16 starts and allowed fewer than four runs only six times — but he’s staying in the rotation, so the Yankees are hoping he turns in a surprisingly strong performance tonight. Hopefully Ellsbury and Miller can help pick up the slack. Here is the A’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Chris Young
  6. C John Ryan Murphy
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Jose Pirela
  9. 3B Gregorio Petit
    LHP CC Sabathia

Now, the bad news: It’s raining. Has been for most of the afternoon but it’s just light rain at the moment. There’s more rain in the forecast later tonight, though it appears there’s a big enough window to get the game in. We’ll find out soon enough, I suppose. First pitch is scheduled for a bit after 7pm ET. The game will be on YES. Enjoy.

Roster Moves: Both Ramon Flores and Nick Rumbelow were sent down to Triple-A Scranton to make room for Ellsbury and Miller, the Yankees announced. Not unexpected.

Injury Updates: Chase Headley is day-to-day with a sore calf … Brendan Ryan (back) has resumed baseball activities and could begin a minor league rehab assignment soon … Mason Williams (shoulder) has renewed soreness after throwing, so his rehab has been slowed down. Surgery is not being considered at this time … Slade Heathcott (quad) is still shut down. He’s not close to returning.

All-Star Update: According to MLB’s update, Brett Gardner is currently fourth in the AL Final Vote voting. There is basically no chance anyone other than Mike Moustakas wins based on the way Royals fans stuffed the ballots for the starters. Here’s the ballot anyway … No Yankees will be in the Home Run Derby, unsurprisingly. Here are the participants.

2014 Home Run Derby Thread

2014 Home Run DerbyThe All-Star break is officially underway and tonight is the annual Home Run Derby. It’s an event that, like just about everything else in the history of the universe, is better enjoyed in person than on television. It can get a little slow and start to drag on at times, but hey, I love homers. This is fun.

If you haven’t heard, the Derby has a new format this year. There are five players per league and they each get seven outs per round, not ten. The top three homer totals in the first round in each league advance. The player with the most homers in each league gets a bye to the third round while the players with the second and third most meet head-to-head in the second round. The winner of the third round in each league meet in the finals, so it’ll be AL vs. NL. Kinda cool. Little more exciting that the old format, that’s for sure.

There are no Yankees in the Home Run Derby this year, which isn’t all that surprising. Mark Teixeira is pretty much only guy on the roster who belongs in the same sentence as the Home Run Derby but meh. Robinson Cano represented the Yankees every year from 2011-13. Here are the ten Home Run Derby participants. I don’t know the order in which they’ll swing, but we’ll find out soon enough.

American League
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (captain)
Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
Josh Donaldson, Athletics
Brian Dozier, Twins
Adam Jones, Orioles

National League
Todd Frazier, Reds
Justin Morneau, Rockies
Yasiel Puig, Dodgers
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (captain)

I thought it was kinda weird there are two Athletics and two Rockies in the Derby, but it turns out it’s not uncommon for two teammates to participate. It happened as recently as 2011 (David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez) and has happened a bunch of other times throughout history. My official prediction is Frazier over Jones. Don’t ask me why. It’s just a guess.

The Home Run Derby is scheduled to begin at 8pm ET and you can watch on ESPN. Talk about that or anything else right here. Enjoy.

2013 Homerun Derby Open Thread

2013 Homerun DerbyThe Homerun Derby is one of those things that sounds better than it actually is. It’s fun … for the first 15 minutes or so. It has a tendency to drag and drag, and after a while even homers get boring. I remember seeing Buster Olney suggest adding a points system — so many points for hitting it here, more for hitting it there, etc. — to spice things up and I liked the idea because at least it adds some strategy. I dunno.

As usual, there are eight participants in the Derby this year. I continue to hope Adam Dunn, who was put on this Earth to swing away in an event like this, will one day get to strut his stuff in the Homerun Derby. Here are the eight participants, though I have no idea who will hit when. The order remains a mystery:

American League
Robinson Canocaptain
Yoenis Cespedes
Chris Davis
Prince Fielder

National League
David Wright — captain
Pedro Alvarez
Michael Cuddyer
Bryce Harper

Lots of intrigue here. You’ve got the two hometown captains obviously, then you’ve got another local guy in the Washington Heights-raised Alvarez. Davis leads the world with 37 (!) homers, Fielder is a two-time Derby champ (2009 and 2012), Harper is the young phenom, and Cespedes is the international man of mystery. Cuddyer is … Cuddyer. Not exactly a typical Derby candidate, but apparently Wright chose him because the two are close friends. Fair enough, captains get to do that sort of thing.

My official pick — which is basically just a guess — to win is Harper. It’s not just about raw power, it’s also about endurance. He’s by far the youngest and I’m assuming fatigue will be less of a factor for him. Who really knows though? That’s the fun. The Derby starts at 8pm ET and can be seen on ESPN, as usual. Talk about that or anything else you want right here. Enjoy.

Matt’s thoughts on a random Wednesday

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

1. Last night, when the Royals took a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh off a Billy Butler no-doubter, I sarcastically tweeted that the game was over.  Well, as it turns out, my cynical sentiments weren’t far from the truth.  The Yankees are averaging a measly 3.89 runs per game and have now managed to score only one (!) run in each of the last three matches.  This has resulted in a negative-six run differential, and according to their Pythagorean record, the team should officially be two games under .500 at this point.  Collectively, the team has garnered a 83 wRC+ which is third worst in the majors.  It’s painful to watch.  It’s also really unfair to the pitching.  You could march a rotation of Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, and Matt Harvey out there every night and it wouldn’t be enough to win if the team only scores a single run.  Ugly, really ugly.

2. Call it selective memory, but I feel like Mike has claimed that each series is very important for the Yankees over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, I kind of agree.  It’s beginning to feel as though each game is a “must win.”  The team sits six games out of first place in the AL East, which is by no means insurmountable at this point in the season.  It’s not that these games are weighted differently from other season games.  It’s just that the team needs to capitalize on its opportunities – particularly against some of the weaker opponents, like the Royals, if they hope to make the playoffs despite a failing offense.  Yesterday, James Shields looked as shaky as I’ve ever seen him early on.  The team simply needs to do better if they hope to remain in contention.  On the plus side, the Yankees are only a game or so back from the Rays and Orioles in the standings, so a Wild Card berth is still very plausible even if a division title is looking less likely.  Also, the Yankees have a bunch of games against Texas, Tampa Bay, Boston and Baltimore remaining which helps (or hurts) their cause depending on how you look at it.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

3. Doug Mittler wrote a quick blurb about Brian McCann on ESPN yesterday (Insider required).  It noted how McCann will likely be one of the top free agents available in the offseason and could demand a contract comparable to Yadier Molina – that is to say, a five year, $75M agreement.  I don’t know if the Yankees have the goods to acquire McCann from the Braves before the trade deadline, nor do I know if the Braves have any interest in trading him, let alone to the Yankees.  I also don’t know if the Yankees would be interested in him in the offseason given some of his prior injuries (including his most recent shoulder surgery) and their pending austerity budget concerns.  I’ll tell you what though, right about now he’d look awfully good in pinstripes.  Then again, so would Russell Martin (but that’s another point for another day).

4. So it looks like Robinson Cano has finally locked in his roster for the Home Run Derby.  To be honest, I generally don’t spend much time watching the All-Star break activities.  I’ll generally watch the first couple innings of the game itself (along with the last inning if I can to see Mariano Rivera pitch), and occasionally I’ll watch the first round of the Derby.  Still, I have to hand it to Cano for picking a really solid group.  Fielder, Davis, and Cespedes can all hit the long ball with the best of them.  It’ll also be nice not having the Kansas locals bitch and moan about Billy Butler getting snubbed this year.  I have to assume Robbie will have his father pitch to him again.  Hopefully he can knock a couple into the stands this go around.  On the other hand, I don’t quite get David Wright’s decision to invite Michael Cuddyer even though they’re apparently good friends.  I’m guessing Carlos Gonzalez and Bryce Harper will be shouldering most of the load for the National League squad.  It should also be interesting to see how many home runs get swallowed up by the vast dimensions of CitiField.