Baseball

MLB Home Run Derby Contestants

Trevor Story
David Zalubowski – AP Photo

The complete eight man field for the 2021 MLB Home Run Derby at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado is officially set. Here is a look at all eight competitors and where they stand against the other big hitters.

1 Seed vs. 8 Seed

Juan Soto
Patrick McDermott – Getty Images

(1) Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angeles

This man does not need much of an introduction at this point. There are plenty of players who have made their presence known at the plate this year, but none have been more dominant than Shohei Ohtani.

It seems as if Ohtani sets a new record each day. Wednesday, July 7, Ohtani hit his 32nd homer of the season which is the most in a season by a Japanese born player ever. He set the record and he still has just under half of the season to go.

Just in case there was any confusion, it is not a typo, he has 32 homers with still a few games to go before the break. His 32 is the most prior to the All-Star break since Chris Davis for the Orioles in 2013 who hit 37.

Ohtani is the clear favorite going into the derby and it is understandable why. It is just a matter of time before fans find out if he can translate his regular game success into derby success.

(8) Juan Soto – Washington Nationals

Juan Soto quickly became one of the faces of baseball when he come up in 2018. He was only 19 when he made his major league debut, but he handled himself like a veteran. In his 116 games he had 121 hits, 22 of which went over the outfield fence. He was in one of the best rookie classes of all time and came in second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr.

He had a spectacular season in 2019 where he hit 34 homers and put up 110 RBIs. Just to accentuate his early career success he helped the Nationals win their first ever World Series.

After a delayed start to the 2021 season due to injury he has put up some nice numbers. He has 71 hits and 10 of those are homers. He is putting a ball into the stands once every seven hits which is off of his 5.03 average through his first three seasons. His 10 homers are the least of the entire field of eight.

This young star has an immense amount of power and when he gets a hold of one it usually goes a long way. He is looking to bring some serious pop to this competition.

2 Seed vs. 7 Seed

Joey Gallo
Smiley N. Pool – The Dallas Morning News

(2) Joey Gallo – Texas Rangers

There are power hitters and then there is Joey Gallo. He is one of those hitters where every time he hits a long ball everyone knows immediately that it is going very far. Very few guys in all of baseball have the kind of immense power he has.

He has been in the majors since 2015 and yet he has only had two full seasons, but he made the most of them. In 2017, his first full season, he had 94 hits and 41 of them were homers (43.6%). Just to prove his power, in the middle of September of 2017 he hit a 490 foot homer. He followed that performance up with 40 homers in 2018.

By just looking at his stat line from this season it looks like he is having a decent season with 23 homers. This is one of those times where the numbers do not tell the whole story. Wednesday he hit a pair of homers and those two gave him 10 homers in the last 10 games. He has finally found the power stroke and is looking to get back to his old self at the plate.

He is a player born to be in the Home Run Derby and after putting up big numbers he became the last player named to the field of eight. When ESPN shows the leaders in distance late in the derby expect Gallo to take all of the top spots.

(7) Trevor Story – Colorado Rockies

There is usually one competitor from the team whose ballpark is hosting the All-Star game. With the festivities taking place in Colorado the hometown participant is Trevor Story.

Since coming into the majors in 2016 he has made himself into one of the premiere power hitters. In only 97 games in his rookie season he hit 27 long balls. He set the record for most home runs in a players first six major league games with seven. There is no bigger way to start a career.

From 2017 through 2020 he hit 107 homers. He hit 68 of those 107 (63.6%) at home in Colorado which means he is very comfortable hitting dingers at home.

In 2021 he only has 11 homers which is the second lowest for all of the competitors, but that is not going to stop him from putting on a show in his home stadium.

3 Seed vs. 6 Seed

Matt Olson
Abbie Parr – Getty Images

(3) Matt Olson – Oakland Athletics

The Athletics always seems to find guys that can hit a lot of dingers in the Coliseum and Matt Olson is no exception.

He only played 59 games in his rookie season of 2017, but he put up crazy numbers. In those few games he had 49 hits and crazily enough almost half of them were four baggers. He hit 24 homers which is 49% of his hits. That kind of production did not last long. He played all 162 games in 2018, but only recorded 29 long balls.

Through 81 games played this season for Olson he has 83 hits and 20 are dingers. He is getting at least one hit each game and is going yard about once every four hits.

This is a hitter with a lot of power and he has displayed it plenty over the past four seasons. His power will fit in perfectly in Colorado.

(6) Trey Mancini – Baltimore Orioles

The Home Run Derby is the next step in the amazing comeback season for Trey Mancini. In April 2020 Mancini announced he was battling stage three colon cancer. After months of treatment he was lucky enough to say in November that he is cancer free.

In 2021 he is back with the Orioles and playing like he never missed a beat. Through 82 games played this season he is at 15 homers which is a great number for him. He hit 24 homers in each of his first two seasons which means he is on pace to pass those numbers.

He is not known so much as a power hitter, but rather as a hitter who can get on base. In his rookie season of 2017 he recorded 24 homers out of his 159 hits. Compare that to fellow competitor Pete Alonso who hit 53 homers out of his 155 hits in 2019. Mancini had a career year in 2019 where had 35 homers.

After all he has gone through he is most likely more focused on going out there to put on a show for the fans than win the whole competition. Yet, with his power he could come out on top.

4 Seed vs. 5 Seed

Pete Alonso
Tony Dejak – AP Photo

(4) Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals

So many of this years participants have only been in the majors for a few years. That is usually the case as the young guns are thought to have the most power. Perez, on the other hand, is in his 10th season. Even in his early years he was never perceived as a power hitter.

In his six full seasons (2013-2018) he averaged 21.2 homers. His two best seasons were 2017 and 2018 where he put up nearly identical numbers in all major offensive areas including 27 homers in both seasons.

Based on his performance in 2021 so far it seems he might be getting better. Through 85 games he has 94 hits, 51 RBIs and 20 dingers, all of which are on pace to demolish his previous highs.

Perez does not have the incredible power of Ohtani or Gallo, but he is going to step into the batters box and give the fans what they came to see. If he does end up on top he would be the first catcher to ever win the derby.

(5) Pete Alonso – New York Mets

Pete Alonso may only be in his third full season, but he has made his power known on an extremely consistent rate.

In 2019, Alonso made his MLB debut and turned it into one of the most insane rookie seasons of all time. He broke the rookie record of most homers in a season with 53 long balls. He hit a home run about every three games. His powerful presence at the plate earned him the Rookie of the Year award with 29 of the 30 possible votes.

As if all of that was not enough, he also competed in that years Home Run Derby in Cleveland, Ohio. He faced off in the final round against fellow rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and ended up winning the title.

He is back this season as the reigning champion and is ready to repeat. Just like Story, Alonso is struggling as he has only 15 homers, but he is going to go out there are try to become a two time champ.

No one knows who will come out on top, but the one thing that is guaranteed is that there will be a lot of home runs. The MLB Home Run Derby will take place on Monday July, 12 at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.

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