Jul 17, 2018
MLB 2018 HOME RUN DERBY RECAP
All-star breaks bring together both the best athletes in any sport and the collective yawn of true fans. The MLB All-Star week is here and while most of baseball is on a four-day break, there is no NFL, NBA, NHL or any NCAA sports to keep us occupied. Even the World Cup is done. So, we need do the best we can with what we have. I’ll be honest, there are some parts of this contest I don’t really understand. For starters the top-5 home run leaders in J.D. Martinez, Jose Ramirez, Trout, Lindor, and Judge weren’t even there. Despite that, the derby surprisingly ended up being a lot more exciting than anyone could have predicted with favorite Bryce Harper winning in walk-off fashion. Let’s break this contest down and see how it played out.
Rhys Hoskins entered the derby with the least amount of home runs this year (14) of all eight of the contestants. He was matched up with Jesus Aguilar who led all of the contestants with 24 home runs. Despite the discrepancy Hoskins crushed Aguilar 17-12 in what ended up being the only matchup in the WHOLE derby to be decided by more than one home run. Rhys is homer-less in his 14 games this July. Phillies fans want to believe this performance is the start of the rest of his season.
Rhys was paired up to face the winner of the Alex Bregman, Kyle Schwarber matchup. Schwarber was a heavy favorite but had to sweat a tough Bregman performance winning by a slim margin at 17-16. Schwarber went on to top Rhys on his way to the finals with 21 home runs. Those 21 long shots ended up being the most hit in any round this year.
On the other side of the bracket we had Bryce Harper paired up with Brave’s power hitter Freddie Freeman. Harper has had a rough season batting .214, but 23 long balls by the break putting him in the top-ten in that category. Freeman only sent 12 balls out of the park and Harper topped that fairly easily en route to a semi-finals matchup.
Harper faced breakout star Max Muncy in the semis, who topped Javier Baez in the first round. Muncy came out of nowhere this year with 22 home runs in just 225 at-bats. This is surprising as Muncy only had five home runs in a combined 215 at-bats with the A’s in 2015 and 2016. Muncy could only hit 12 home runs in the semis and was topped by Harper who hit 13 and went on to the finals.
So the final showdown started with Schwarber hitting 18 homers, a total that was going to be tough for the favorite Harper to top. Harper started off slow with only 9 home runs to show with a minute left. Then the hometown star flipped a switch and cranked 9 more out in the final minute to tie it up. Harper then had 30 seconds of bonus time thanks to hitting a homer more than 440 feet and knocked a walk-off dinger to win the title.
The derby might not mean much to most, but to the underperforming Washington Nationals it may be the spark they need to turn their season around. There is always talk that home run derby can ruin a player’s swing. Will it have the opposite effect on Harper? He really needs up his average in the remainder of the season. Baseball is back on Thursday and daily fantasy contests resume on Friday with a full slate. So get your lineup set for Friday’s contest, we are into the part of the MLB season that really counts.