The fact that Orioles outfielder Mark Trumbo currently leads Major League Baseball in home runs with 26 – along with his penchant for tape-measure blasts – makes him a perfect fit for the annual Home Run Derby, and Trumbo said Wednesday he will participate in this year's event at next week's All-Star Game in San Diego.
As the major league leader, he was named the top seed in the event Thursday night, and will face eighth-seeded Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Over the years, some of the game's top power hitters have avoided the event. Some worry aiming for the seats for an entire night can negatively alter their swing in the second half of the season. Others would rather watch and relax on the day before the All-Star Game than go through a lengthy and physically taxing competition.
Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera are among those who have already said no thanks to this year's event.
But for an Orioles team built on power, seeing an O's player in the Derby is becoming a regular occurrence. The Orioles will have a Derby participant for the fourth straight year, with Trumbo following Manny Machado (2015), Adam Jones (2014) and Chris Davis (2013).
An Orioles player has won the event twice since it began in 1985. Miguel Tejada was victorious in 2004 at Houston's Minute Maid Park and Cal Ripken Jr. claimed the 1991 event at Rogers Centre, then known as the SkyDome.
The 30-year-old Trumbo – who participated in the 2012 Derby in Kansas City, finishing third out of eight competitors – acknowledged it's a grind. But since he was named to his second All-Star Game on Tuesday, Trumbo made it clear he was interested.
Trumbo understands why the event is popular with the fans, who want to see the game's top sluggers hit a ball a long way, and he knows his power can add to the spectacle.
"It's a blast," Trumbo said. "I'm kind of a pretty good fit for it. Obviously, that's kind of a part of what I do anyways, so if I'm able to do it, I think it's kind of what fans are looking for. And that's ultimately why we play, is to kind of do it for those reasons, so I guess it just makes a lot of sense for me."
Trumbo said he won't likely go through any extra preparation for the Derby, and he'll probably take fewer swings in batting practice. He said his previous participation in the Derby will help him. When Trumbo competed in the Derby at Kauffman Stadium in 2012 — his only previous All-Star Game nod — he was tied with Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays for the second-most homers following two rounds with 13. He lost to Bautista in a swing-off for the right to advance to the final round.
He showed the most consistency of any participant, hitting seven homers in the first round and six in the second. Bautista needed 11 homers in the first round to reach 13, and eventual winner Prince Fielder hit 11 in the second round to advance with a 16-homer total after two rounds.
Trumbo said he's not worried that being in the Derby will alter his swing moving forward, although he hit just 10 homers in the second half in 2012 after going into the break with 22. Trumbo's batting average in the second half (.227) was also significantly lower than before the break (.306) that season.
"The first year I did it, I probably put too much effort into it, which is inevitable [in your first time]," Trumbo said. "Hopefully I'll be able to tone things down a bit. … I think I have some ideas on how I'd attack it a little differently this time around."
Trumbo could benefit from a new contest format introduced last season that rewards batters for the distance of their home runs.
The format is tweaked slightly every year, but players will continue to go head-to-head in a bracketed format for the second straight season, with the majors' home run leader getting the No. 1 seed. Rounds are now timed, with each hitter receiving four minutes to hit in each round. In the first and second rounds, each batter is entitled to one 45-second timeout. In the finals, each batter is entitled to two timeouts.
Also, players can receive an extra 30 seconds of time for hitting two homers of 440 feet or longer. Trumbo averages 413 feet per home run this season, including two homers over 440 feet, according to Statcast. And among the this year's derby participants, only Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez (422 feet) and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton (420) average longer distances. averages.
"If I were able to do it and the results were there, it's awesome," Trumbo said. "If they're not, no big deal. It's just for fun."
NOTE: The Orioles reinstated designated hitter Pedro Alvarez from the bereavement list Thursday.