(WTNH) — As expected, Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will be returning to the MLB Home Run Derby this season to defend his title from 2016.
The announcement came on Sunday. Stanton will be going for his second crown, but this time on his home field with the All-Star Game being in Miami on July 10.
Standing in his way this season, possibly? Another larger-than-life batter that would make for a Home Run Derby for the ages against Stanton. Though there has been no official announcement, when asked on ESPN about the potential of going up against New York Yankee Aaron Judge, Stanton said that it would be cool.
Judge, who is sitting at 26 home runs and leading the MLB, is listed at 6’7″, 280 lbs.
Stanton is listed at 6’6″, 245 lbs, and he hit his 20th home run on Sunday.
The two hulking sluggers can crush the ball. They both hit towering home runs, and have cleared the fences faster than anyone else this season. Judge leads the league with an exit velocity of 121.1 mph, while Stanton has one at 118.7, according to Statcast on MLB.com.
Together, should they meet in the derby, they would be the two biggest players in MLB history to compete against one another in the All-Star festivity. Mark McGwire and Frank Thomas, both standing at 6’5″, never hit in the derby in the same year.
That would have been the closest comparison in terms of stature to Stanton and Judge. So the pairing of the two would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness.
Who wouldn’t love to see what kind of show these two fellow Californians could put on? Stanton seemed to sound like the prospect of defending his title against Judge was inevitable. He was very interested in meeting him two Mondays from today.
“It’s going to be on the big stage, apparently,” said Stanton. It’ll probably be before, in press conferences. It’ll be cool. It’ll be a fun couple of days, and I’m looking forward to it.”
The dream scenario would be of gargantuan proportions. Kind of like Godzilla vs King Kong, or Andre The Giant vs The Great Kahli. It has that Roman Colosseum gladiatorial battle feel to it. Each of their swings has the capacity to tear the cover off the ball, causing the seams to fly off like streamers en route to the upper decks. Stanton and Judge would make for an all-time great Home Run Derby.
Which is what might be needed this season to draw in an audience. According to Sports Media Watch, (SMW) the 2016 Home Run Derby had one of the lowest amount of viewers in 19 years, with 5.5 million watching. Since 1997, and prior to last year, there had been only two years where viewership did not reach 6 million, (2003 & 2014), sourcing SMW.
A returning champion, and a fresh face would increase the derby ratings this season.
This year could have been even more thrilling of a derby to watch had we had commitments from Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. But Trout is on the Disabled List , and Harper in past interviews has said he’s no longer interested in the home run competition. I guess we’ll have to see if Harper changes his mind in 2018, when the derby will be held in Washington, D.C., and potentially get all four guys in there.
For now, we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that we will see Stanton and Judge go at it in the batters box two weeks from now.
Last year, Stanton broke the record for most home runs hit in the derby with 61. An encore performance would be ideal, and perhaps required if he has to face Judge. However, he would have the advantage over the rookie. Stanton knows how to pace himself in the derby, and he’s home. A challenge for Judge that we all hope he accepts.
Marlins Park will have to open up the windows in left-center field to avoid any shattering glass with these guys at the plate swinging for the seats. Maybe even swinging for the streets.
Judge has already been invited by MLB to join the derby, but said he’ll think about it. So we patiently wait, growing more excited with every blast of his as a lead up to All-Star week. Both Stanton and Judge will likely have at least 50 home runs combined when they arrive in Miami.
If he wins it again, Stanton would become the third player to win back-to-back derby titles. (Ken Griffey Jr 1998-99, Yoenis Cespedes 2013-14) He would be the forth player to have won it more than once. (Prince Fielder- 2, Cespedes- 2, Griffey Jr- 3)
Fans will be calling for all of the league leading home run hitters to attend. One in particular that would give both Stanton and Judge a run for their money would be Joey Gallo, the rookie Texas Ranger. He currently has 18 home runs, and had two 40 home run seasons down in the minor leagues.
Within a few days of the derby we should find out what the field will look like.