This time every year, some of the best power hitters in the game waffle about participating in the annual Home Run Derby, so it’s great to see Orioles outfielder Mark Trumbo, who currently leads the majors with 26 homers, jump at the opportunity.
Moments after Trumbo was named to the All-Star team before Tuesday’s game at Dodger Stadium, he made it clear he was interested in participating. The next day, he said he was going, and on Thursday the participants were officially announced by Major League Baseball.
And seeing the way Trumbo approaches hitting, he’s not just participating for the spectacle of it all – however, his tape-measure power is made for that spotlight – but he’s going to try to win.
Trumbo participated in the derby in 2012 in Kansas City and placed third, but showed the most consistency over the first two rounds. But the derby is about getting on a roll. That’s what the fans want to see – double-digit rounds of moonshots. Timing is everything.
Major League Baseball tweaks the rules of the contest frequently. The changes are subtle, but even last year in Cincinnati, MLB made some last-minute adjustments to the rules because of weather concerns.
The head-to-head format plays to Trumbo’s favor because of his consistency hitting the ball out of the park. When Trumbo competed in the 2012 derby – which was different in that hitters advanced to the finals by total homers hit over the first two rounds – Trumbo was the only player to hit six or more homers in each of the first two rounds.
Last season, the rules awarded up to 90 extra seconds for homers hit over 420 feet, but this year, hitters will only get an additional 30 seconds for hitting two or more homers of 440 feet or longer.
While Trumbo is a masher – he averages 413 feet per home run this season – he will be competing with some other crushers. Here’s a look at the average home-run distance for the eight participants, according to Statcast.
Name, Team HRs Avg. (feet)
Carlos Gonzalez, Colo 18 422
Giancarlo Stanton, Mia 19 420
Trumbo, Bal 26 413
Adam Duvall, Cin 22 401
Wil Myers, SD 19 401
Corey Seager, LAD 17 399
Robinson Cano, Sea 20 393
Todd Frazier, CWS 23 389
When looking at these distances, keep in mind that participants won’t be staring down a 97-mph fastball in the derby. It will be more like batting practice, and anyone around the team on a regular basis knows that Trumbo can put on a show during BP.
And obviously, this is more about the number of homers hit than how far they go, but the caveat for bonus time for hitting longer homers is an interesting wrinkle that could make a difference in the end.
Take it for what it is – and so much is based on momentum in the derby, so the event is extremely unpredictable -- but you’d have to think that Trumbo has a good chance to raise a trophy on Monday night.