It’s time for the 2021 Home Run Derby! I know that a lot of people don’t think the derby is terribly exciting, but I have always been a fan. The change in recent years to give a time limit on each player has made it much more fun, in my opinion.
Of course it’s always more fun when one of your own players is in the derby, and this year the Orioles have one! Trey Mancini, fresh off a pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the ninth yesterday, will be out there trying to make all of Birdland proud. Of course, we are already proud of him regardless of what happens. Go Trey!
How and When to Watch
The derby begins tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPN, coming to you from Coors Field where they have purposely not put the derby baseballs into the humidor that usually helps keep the baseballs flying more normally in the thin Colorado air. So we might see some really good dingers. And I am here for it!
The derby is done in bracket format, with the seeding done based on how many home runs each player has. Here is round one:
Shohei Ohtani (1) vs. Juan Soto (8)
Outside of the home cities of the other seven contestants, Ohtani has to be everyone’s pick to win this. His 33 home runs are tops in baseball, five more than the guy in second (Vlad Jr.). He is slugging .698. This dude would be one of the most exciting players on the planet even if he wasn’t pitching every five days with an ERA+ of 132. Which he is.
Soto only has 11 dingers on the year, but he’s still putting up a heck of a season and he’s just two years removed from hitting 34 in a season. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s 22 years old. Too bad he’s a National.
Joey Gallo (2) vs. Trevor Story (7)
Do you like a true three-outcome player? Then you LOVE Joey Gallo. Gallo currently leads the Rangers in HR, BB, and K. I know this isn’t the walking derby but I still feel compelled to mention that he has 72 walks this year. If you add together the top two walkers on the Orioles (Mancini and Cedric Mullins), the total is 66. Gallo’s 24 dingers rank 5th in the majors.
Trevor Story hits a lot of dingers AND he plays for the hometown Colorado Rockies, so he’ll be getting a lot of cheers from the crowd tonight. A few years ago when Story was a rookie, I was trying to pick my bench player in the CC home run derby league. My brother-in-law told me I should take Story. I did not. I should have! Story has hit 11 HR in 2021.
Matt Olson (3) vs. Trey Mancini (6)
Boo, Matt Olson! You stink! Sure, you have 23 home runs and a .938 OPS, but do you have an inspirational story? No? NEXT.
I was in attendance at yesterday’s Orioles game when Trey Mancini strode to the plate as a pinch hitter. There was one runner on base, two outs, and the Orioles were down by two. The confident Mancini, who had been given the day off, stepped into the box. First pitch, foul. Second pitch, ball. Third pitch, OPPOSITE FIELD DINGER TO THE FLAG COURT AND THE CROWD GOES WILD! The rest of the Orioles blew it because they stink, but Trey gave us all a great moment.
Sure, he’s not the favorite to win the derby. And his home runs aren’t usually as majestic and prolific as some of the other guys in the contest. But this time last year he wasn’t even playing baseball because he had stage 3 colon cancer. And if that isn’t a guy you can root for to win the HR Derby, well then you are a monster.
Salvador Perez (4) vs. Pete Alonso (5)
Look I might have some lingering resentment from the 2014 ALCS. I know it was a long time ago! I don’t even care. When is Salvador Perez going to stop being a thing? I hope he hits zero home runs.
Pete Alonso won the derby as a rookie back in 2019 so he is the reigning champion. He hit 53 that season. He seems like a pleasant guy, people like him. But do we really need a multi-year derby winner? This year he has 17 at the break.
The round two matchups are as follows:
- Ohtani/Soto vs. Perez/Alonso
- Gallo/Story vs. Olson/Mancini
Round three is the two remaining winners, obviously.
In the first two rounds of play, each player will have three minutes to hit as many dingers as possible. In the third round, the players have two minutes. During each of those periods, each player can take one 45-second time out.
At the end of regulation, each player is given a 30-second “bonus” time in which to hit as many dingers as they can without taking a time out. If a player hit a homer at least 475 feet in the “regulation” round, their bonus time will be increased to 60 seconds.
If two players are tied at the end of their round, there will be a 60-second swing off. If it’s tied after that, they will take turns taking three swings until there is a winner.
That’s it! Let’s go Trey!