Since our opinion is of the utmost importance, and since they let you say pretty much whatever you want on the internet, it seems like a good time to select the participants in this year’s home run derby. The 2012 edition will take place in Kansas City, and we can all but guarantee you no actual Royals will be participating. After all, Steve Balboni holds the team record for homers in a season with…36. The home run derby is of course very much a trivial competition, but why not spice it up with the most exciting long ball mashers in baseball? I don’t particularly care about raw home run totals for the first three months of this season; I want the sluggers who will make involuntary noises spill out of my mouth when they put a charge into one of those meatball batting practice pitches. Each league gets four participants, and for the sake of realism I will refrain from choosing Allen Tater Craig.
I’ll start with the American League since it’s the rightful first league mentioned when it comes to the alphabet or being better at baseball. The top home run hitters in the league currently are Adam Dunn (23), Jose Bautista (23), Josh Hamilton (22), and Edwin Encarnacion/Curtis Granderson (21). Before I do anything else, let me take a moment to strike Edwin Encarnacion’s season from the record at once and ban him from derby participation. No one wants to see that shit. I think the Blue Jays even hate this nonsense. I will immediately take Bautista, who has been making a habit of leading the universe (we love the universe and its infinite possibilities) in long balls for like three years now. I will also take Hamilton because he consistently hits really long dingers (his 469-footer this season is good for fourth-longest in baseball) and he hit like half of his homers in a single game. Plus people are interested in him or whatever.
So that leaves two more AL homer hitters to pick. I’m not taking Dunn because he’s kind of boring and he’s coming off a terrible season. Good reasoning? I don’t care! I am a tyrant, and this is my fake home run derby! Granderson isn’t getting to do this either simply because the idea of watching him hit a bunch of balls to right field doesn’t do it for me. Albert Pujols will not be receiving a mercy pick from me for his decade of dutiful mashing in St. Louis, either. After all, if the home run derby supposedly messed up his swing before, just imagine how bad his second half would be in 2012. I’ll go ahead and take David Ortiz for the theater of it all. He’s always been quite productive at the derby (not the Kentucky Derby, mind you; he’d make a terrible horse and a worse jockey) and his resurgence is an impressive one. I’ll also go down the board a ways and pick Prince Fielder, another fat lefty with a huge uppercut swing. Fielder comes with the added bonus of guaranteed cursing and egregious grandstanding. If there are two things we love here at StanGraphs, they are guaranteed cursing and egregious grandstanding.
On to the National League we go! Already having decided I can’t take Allen Craig, and already having shed numerous tears about it, I also came to the realization that I can’t simply select Giancarlo Stanton to try his luck four times in hopes of multiple 600-foot home runs. I mean come on, we don’t want a Barry Bonds in Coors Field situation like Spencer and I once witnessed in High Heat 2002. Before I even get to the league leaders, let it be known that I am going to take Stanton once. Once is perfectly fair, and he would be the player I’d be most excited to see crush that Kansas City fountain like a billion times
The NL leaders in yard-going are Ryan Braun (20), Carlos Beltran (19), Carlos Gonzalez (17), and Jay Bruce/Stanton (16). Like virtually all NL numbers, these are less impressive than the ones in the junior circuit. Braun gets inclusion because he’s just a great hitter. He has mammoth power and should perform just fine so long as he pretends he’s facing a real-life Royals starter along the KC backdrop. I also feel good about selecting Beltran for a few reasons. 1) He would get to return to the stadium he began his career in for what would likely be a final All-Star/derby hurrah, 2) he’s second in the league in homers (obvious!), and 3) I want a Cardinal in there so that my own personal and devious rooting interests are served to an appropriate level.
With one pick remaining in this make-believe bonanza, I will go with Cincinnati’s powerful Jay Bruce. Bruce has a ferocious swing that could easily generate a few 500-footers (still well short of what Stanton is likely to do; I’ve changed my mind and think he will club one 1,000 feet) and should routinely clear 30-35 bombs a year. Bruce could totally have one of those awe-inspiring runs in which he just hits homer after homer until Chris Berman needs to go to the hospital.
Now that all my reasoning has been exposed and justified thoroughly, let’s look at the results!
American League: Bautista, Hamilton, Ortiz, Fielder
National League: Braun, Beltran, Stanton, Bruce
Just you wait, loyal fanbase. You’re going to wish this was the lineup you were seeing in July. I bet you we end up with Ichiro in this thing or something.