Colorado Rockies news and links for Sunday, April 11, 2021
As we all know, the All-Star Game is coming to Coors Field this summer. The realization that the Home Run Derby will again be in the Mile High City has folks salivating at the idea of seeing the game’s premier sluggers compete in the event. Ken Griffey Jr. dominated the 1998 Derby by beating out sluggers such as Mark McGwire, Jim Thome, and Colorado’s own Vinny Castilla. Speculation will run rampant in the coming months about if the humidor will be used or who will compete. With that in mind, here are some of the players I’d like to see compete in this year’s Home Run Derby.
Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz must have secret access to the Fountain of Youth. At 40-years-old Cruz is proving he can still slug with the best of them. It’s been over a decade since Cruz participated in the 2009 Home Run Derby while with the Rangers, losing in the finals to Prince Fielder.
Cruz was offered a chance to participate in 2015, but turned it down because he said he was “tired” after the 2009 one and didn’t want that to impact his current Mariners teammates. Regardless, I want to see the old timer take on the young whipper-snappers in the game.
At the age of 22, Juan Soto has already established himself as one of the game’s premier hitters. His raw talent helped propel the Nationals to their first World Series title in 2019 and he seems poised to be a perennial MVP candidate for years to come.
In 318 games, Soto already has 71 home runs and is showing no signs of stopping. The youngster is a key component of the new baseball generation, so why not let him loose and see how many rockets he can launch in Colorado?
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Vlad Jr. put on quite a show in 2019 as a rookie. With only eight home runs leading into the event, he stunned everyone by blasting 29 homers in the first round to pass Josh Hamilton’s 2008 record for most home runs in a single round. He then slugged 40 bombs in a multi-tiebreaker showdown with Joc Pederson.
Taking on fellow rookie Pete Alonso, Guerrero hit only 22 home runs but set a new grand total record of 91 home runs in the Derby. If he can put together that kind of performance in Cleveland, I can’t help but fantasize if he could eclipse the 100 home run mark in Colorado.
Who says pitchers can’t hit? Since his stateside arrival in 2018, Shohei Ohtani has turned heads with his ability to hit. In his first pitching start of 2021, Ohtani made history as the first pitcher to bat second in a game since 1903. Not only did Ohtani throw 101 mph in the first inning, he followed it up with a towering moonshot in his first plate appearance.
His ability to launch baseballs to all corners of the stadium makes him an intriguing option for the event, and if we believe hard enough, he could probably launch one to the actual moon.
The “Polar Bear” stormed onto the scene in 2019 with the Mets when he set a new record for most home runs by a rookie with 53 long balls. Pete Alonso’s 23-22 Home Run Derby victory was partly overshadowed by Guerrero’s absurd power display, but he had a fantastic trip to the finals in his own right by narrowly defeating Carlos Santana and Ronald Acuña Jr. Seeing Alonso have a rematch with Guerrero at Coors Field could result in one of the greatest showdowns in Home Run Derby history.
Stanton is no stranger to hitting moonshots at Coors Field. In his career at Coors Field, Stanton has hit 10 home runs including an eye-popping 504-foot missile in 2016. Let’s not also forget that Stanton was the champion of the 2016 Derby in San Diego. The outfielder set a record of 61 home runs before that was eclipsed by Guerrero in 2019. A healthy Stanton, combined with the thin altitude air and that easy power stroke of his, could result in multiple 500-foot shots; and that my friend is what I am here for.
This one is at the top of many fans’ wish list. Mike Trout has made a name for himself as the best player of the generation, which is why we all want to see him unleash raw power against a sphere of rawhide. Trout has had his fair share of home run highlights, like slugging a 524-foot home run or hitting an elementary school. The mythos of Mike Trout can only grow if fans finally get to see him mash in a Home Run Derby, especially if Coors Field is the venue.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a Rockies homegrown talent I’d like to see complete in the event. Trevor Story is a home run hitting machine. In 2019 he claimed the record for being the fastest shortstop to reach 100 careers home runs. In 2018, #StoryTime demolished Giants pitching by hitting 1,380 feet worth of home run, which included a 505-foot blast. It seems only right that Story should get to defend his house like Vinny Castilla did with his third place finish in 1998.
Let ‘em fly
Regardless of who ends up competing, fans and players alike will be in for one entertaining evening when the 2021 Home Run Derby takes place on Monday, July 12. Who do you want to see in the 2021 Home Run Derby? Sound off in the comments!
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Jon Gray may be pitching his final season in Colorado but that isn’t weighing on his mind. Nick Groke chronicles how Jon Gray has grown into his own skin as a pitcher and how he is finding success in 2021. Most importantly however, is that Gray is just being himself. “I’m having a lot more fun this year. I’m not letting things kill me,” Gray said. “I’m just doing my best each time, enjoying baseball no matter the result.”
Carlos Estévez has the potential to be a lock-down reliever for the Rockies, but it will have to come from consistency. Thomas Harding notes that Estévez is making changes, including throwing his changeup more often, but Harding writes that “the improvements of Estévez’s secondary pitches will matter only when he can spot his fastball properly.”
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