Friday, August 19, 2022

Batting Around: Who should round out the 2022 MLB Home Run Derby field?

Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we picked our All-Star Game starting pitchers. This week we’re going to pick our Home Run Derby dream team.

Who is one player you want to see in the Home Run Derby?

R.J. Anderson: Oneil Cruz. I doubt he gets invited this year because of his late promotion, but the term “easy power” comes to mind. He doesn’t have to swing hard to make the ball go a very long distance, and I find that to be aesthetically pleasing. Plus, it’s always nice for teams who are not likely to be well-represented in the All-Star Game itself to have someone to pull for in the Derby. The Pirates certainly qualify in that respect. 

Dayn Perry: I’ll say Mookie Betts. I’m in awe of how much power he produces year after year despite being one of the smallest players in the league. He’s listed at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, and honestly that weight seems a bit generous. At the same time, he’s closing in on 200 career home runs and 300 career doubles. He’s got a career ISO of more than .200, and he’s averaged 31 homers per 162 games played. Since coming to the Dodgers, he’s proved he’s much more than just a beneficiary of the “right-handed hitter in Fenway” thing. I’d love to see what he could do in front of the home crowd in the Derby.

Mike Axisa: R.J. took my answer. I had Cruz winning the Home Run Derby among my ill-fated preseason bold predictions. For the sake of variety, I’ll go with Cardinals prospect Jordan Walker. I’d love to see MLB get a minor leaguer involved in the Home Run Derby because some of these dudes can really put on a show, and it’ll get fans excited about the future of the game. Walker posted exit velocities in the 116 mph range as a 19-year-old in Single-A last year and he’s launching bombs this year:

R.J. ranked Walker the No. 13 prospect in baseball before the season and noted he has “near-elite raw power,” and that will never look out of place in a Home Run Derby. If nothing else, a prospect in the Home Run Derby would create an instant underdog story to draw people in. I think it would be a blast.

Matt Snyder: Unfortunately, Astros beast Yordan Alvarez is injured. He’d be my number one pick. It would be fun to see some of the beefy sluggers like Daniel Vogelbach or Rowdy Tellez get a shot, but those aren’t really needle-movers for casual fans and we have a star-studded event here to think about. 

I’d like to see how Mike Trout does. He’s never done it before but in the past has said he’s not averse to giving it a shot one time. Dodger Stadium isn’t all too far away from Anaheim, so there would be a large home contingent for Trout and he’s wildly popular against many non-Angels fan bases anyway. He is, again, among the league leaders in homers and is hovering around a .600 slugging percentage, too. 

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