If you’re like me, you’ve been assuming there was no chance of any Oriole being in the Home Run Derby. Well, we were both wrong, because the Orioles announced on Monday afternoon that Adley Rutschman, already headed to Seattle as an All-Star, is also going to be hitting in the Derby while he’s out there.
Tough break for the fun police of Birdland out there who didn’t want Rutschman to make the All-Star roster in the first place so he could get extra rest. Now he’s getting even less.
This is something of an unexpected choice for me, as Rutschman, for all of his positives, has not really demonstrated otherworldly home run power in his big league career. Indeed, he enters play on Monday tied for 77th place in MLB in home runs. That would not have been my first choice. With Rutschman being an Oregon native and this year’s game festivities taking place in Seattle, perhaps this was the closest MLB could get, along with Mariners player Julio Rodríguez, to finding a hometown, or at least home region, player.
The other participants who’ve been announced so far are: Guy who beat Trey Mancini in the 2021 Home Run Derby Pete Alonso, Oriole destroyer Randy Arozarena, outfielder the Red Sox were too cheap to pay Mookie Betts, and the son of former Oriole Vladimir Guerrero - Vladimir Guerrero Jr. There are two more participants still to be announced. Rutschman has the fewest home runs this season of any of the players revealed up to this point.
An Oriole has not won the Home Run Derby since Miguel Tejada was the winner under the old format in 2004. If Adley somehow won this year’s event, he would become the first catcher to ever take the crown, according to Orioles beat writer Jake Rill.
I won’t be holding my breath for that, but I do have a reason to watch the Derby now that I didn’t have before. This year’s event is set for 8pm on July 10, and will air on ESPN.