2017 All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby that could have been

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July 10, 2017 by jessepell

(Courtesy of Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Written by Jesse Pelletier

The 2017 All-Stars have been announced and the Home Run Derby bracket is finalized. Naturally, it’s time to break it all down, including snubs, projections and my ideal Derby lineup.

Both All-Star teams are good, but this year’s NL team is STACKED. Anthony Rizzo wasn’t even a Final Vote finalist and nobody has batted an eye! Bryce Harper, Buster Posey, Ryan Zimmerman, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Daniel Murphy; the list goes on and on…and that pitching staff is pure fire. Even with Clayton Kershaw ineligible due to rest, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke and Stephen Strasburg are going to make for a slow start for the AL.

I have a lot of problems with the AL team. First off, Mike Trout should not have won a starting position. Come on, fans! Why? Why did so many people allow this to happen? If you have the privilege to vote, don’t be stupid about it. Damn.

(Courtesy of Kevin Sousa/USA Today Sports)

Anyways, the rest of the team isn’t bad but it doesn’t stack up to the NL roster. Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa, Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, George Springer… yep. Of course the rest of the team is good but it’s missing that wow factor. I’m not overly impressed.

And why were there only three AL relief pitchers before the replacements were named? The NL had six, which is a much more appropriate number. The AL has since added three relief pitchers in replacement, so they’ve balanced out. None of those replacements was Blake Parker; the only Angel on the team is Mike Trout, so Parker would have been a nice add. Plus, he’s got the credentials.

The good news is that the AL relievers are fantastic. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Craig Kimbrel going 7-8-9 to close it out? The NL better put up some runs early. Unfortunately for the AL, that probably won’t be too hard now that Dallas Keuchel, Corey Kluber, Yu Darvish and Michael Fulmer are all ineligible or injured.

So let’s talk snubs. I mentioned earlier Anthony Rizzo wasn’t on the Final Vote, but he deserved to be on more than Justin Bour. Bour is having a career year with a .286 average, 19 home runs and 56 RBI, but his OBP is only .363. Rizzo has played in 10 more games and still struck out 22 fewer times, plus he has 54 walks compared to Bour’s 31. And even though Rizzo’s batting average is .264, his OBP is .392. Smells like Bour is enjoying some home cooking to me, even though this lineup would be a lot tastier with a little Rizzo on top. As in, hitting leadoff.

On a side note, Bour finished last in the Final Vote despite playing for the home team, so maybe that home cooking ain’t so good.

My only other snub (besides the aforementioned Blake Parker) is also on the NL side: Jacob deGrom. I know his numbers aren’t his 2015 numbers, but his numbers actually compared favorably to Stephen Strasburg’s before deGrom’s last outing. There are pitchers with lower ERAs (like Strasburg’s teammate, Gio Gonzalez), but knowing that a guy with an ERA in the mid-3s would make the team, I would’ve preferred deGrom over Strasburg, even if now after the voting Strasburg’s numbers are slightly better all around than deGrom’s.

And while I think Justin Turner has a real shot at finishing in the top five in NL MVP voting, it was hard to say he should’ve flat-out made the team and bypassed the Final Vote. Personally I would have put him in and bounced DJ LeMahieu to the Final Vote, but it’s a tough choice. Turner won the Final Vote, so I’m happy.

Prediction: NL wins 7-2. Before the replacements were named I had the score at 5-1, but losing so many starting pitchers on the AL side and Kershaw for the NL has changed my forecast.

Derby time!

(Courtesy of Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

The Home Run Derby participants have all been named: Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Miguel Sano and Mike Moustakas for the AL and Giancarlo Stanton, Cody Bellinger, Justin Bour and Charlie Blackmon for the NL. The group is one collective homer away from averaging 22 home runs per player, but even so I’m a bit underwhelmed.

The names on the list have raked, but they still don’t all strike me as power hitters. Gary Sanchez is the first to come to mind, even if he was the fastest player to ever reach 20 career home runs. I guess I just see him as a better overall player than a pure power guy. Same for Blackmon; he’s got 20 homers on the year but I still see him as an on-base leadoff guy.

The contestants are good, but I have a dream lineup in mind:

American League:

  1. Aaron Judge
  2. George Springer
  3. Joey Gallo
  4. Khris Davis

On the AL side, Aaron Judge gets to stay. He is the first player to 30 home runs, leads the majors by an impressive margin and is the favorite in the eyes of many. Springer has impressed with his early season power from the leadoff spot, and he makes my lineup after hitting two more out Saturday.

Now let’s get a little weird: Joey Gallo. It’s a very fun name to throw around! Come on, you know you want to see it! He hasn’t solidified himself as a good overall hitter, but personally I’d be more excited to see what Gallo could do over guys like Miguel Sano or Gary Sanchez. Even if he gives us the first Derby strikeout, it would be entertaining. My last guy in is Khris Davis, who would probably be one of the lightest players ever in the Derby. He is listed between 192 and 195 pounds (and that’s probably a bit inflated) but he’s still khrushed 24 homers. And that’s nothing new; last year he dished out 42 souvenirs.

(Khris Davis image/courtesy of Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

And an honorable mention to Mike Moustakas, who I’m still excited to see. I actually had him in my ideal lineup before Springer jacked two more to bring his total to 27. Moustakas will be the one actually competing, so he gets the last laugh.

National League:

  1. Giancarlo Stanton
  2. Cody Bellinger
  3. Marcell Ozuna
  4. Anthony Rizzo

The AL side disappointed me for the All-Star Game, and now the NL is disappointing me for the Derby. The top headline is Stanton defending his title at home, which I love, but the addition of Bour ruins the NL lineup for me. When I started writing this, I didn’t know Bour would be a contestant and I was a lot happier before I found out, because I really, REALLY wanted Marcell Ozuna to do it.

This is borderline disgraceful. Ozuna is hitting .314 with 23 homers and Bour gets the nod for the Derby? Did Ozuna already get an offer and turn it down? I find that hard to believe.

Anyways, Giancarlo gets a clear nod to defend his title at home and Cody Bellinger makes a splash as the NL’s rookie phenom. How can you not love that? My last guy in is Anthony Rizzo. How much fun would that be? We know how strong he is, but he’s also a great personality. Sure, there’s some value in getting new faces into the Derby whereas Rizzo had his chance in 2015, but he’s still my pick. He said in 2016 he’d pass if given the chance, so maybe he passed again this year.

Other notable possibilities I’d love to have seen include Ryan Zimmerman, Mark Reynolds and, my favorite player, Paul Goldschmidt. Zimmerman led the National League for quite some time and would make for quite a storyline, whereas Mark Reynolds’ power has been well-documented for years now. Any of these guys would make for great entertainment. Bryce Harper isn’t on my list because he’s been very vocal about not participating until the event is hosted in Washington next year, and if we apply that logic to Rizzo (if he in fact turned down an offer), then I’d swap him out for Zimmerman in my ideal lineup.

This ideal Derby roster actually has a lot of awesome headlines: each lineup has at least one rookie sensation, the league’s home run leader or shareholder (who also happens to be the rookie phenom) and a leadoff hitter (if you count Rizzo). Add in the defending champ, a second Marlins powerhouse at home and six first-timers and you have yourself some entertainment value.

Prediction: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are the two clear favorites, and I can’t disagree here. I think they’ll meet in the final round and Judge will steal one from the hometown favorite.

An even better question is whether or not he (or anyone else) will break Stanton’s record of 61 home runs hit in a single Derby. I think someone will, and I think there’s a good chance both Stanton and Judge break it. That might be the only way I could move on from Ozuna’s snub…and even then, probably not.

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