The 2021 MLB Home Run Derby field that baseball fans deserve

·5 min read
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

The 2021 Home Run Derby field that baseball fans deserve originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

In just over a month, eight of MLB’s premier power hitters will take center stage at the most hitter-friendly ballpark in baseball to determine the 2021 Home Run Derby champion. Denver's Coors Field, located 5,200 feet above sea level, will play host to the event after the coronavirus pandemic forced MLB to cancel it last year.

The field for the derby still has yet to be determined, leaving open the possibility that many of baseball’s best and most exciting young players will accept an invitation to participate. Though it’s likely that some will decline for a host of reasons from preserving health for the second half or to avoid messing with the timing of their swings, one can always dream.

Excluding former winners (read: Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper and Pete Alonso) in order to get a fresh field that promises a new champion, here’s the Home Run Derby field that baseball fans deserve to see after missing out on the even last season.

Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL)

Age: 23

2021 HR total: 17

Avg. exit velo: 94.3 mph

Avg. HR distance: 411 ft

There’s no better place to start for this list than perhaps the NL’s leading MVP candidate in Ronald Acuña Jr. What will become clear about these eight players is that flashiness and swagger are just as important as raw power and hitting ability. The Home Run Derby is a TV spectacle and Acuña stands out as one of baseball’s most exciting players. Lock him in.

Rafael Devers (BOS)

Age: 24

2021 HR total: 15

Avg. exit velo: 92.6 mph

Avg. HR distance: 413 ft

Rafael Devers enters play Monday leading the majors in RBIs (48) thanks to a newfound power stroke that already has him almost halfway to his career high of 32 home runs just 56 games into this season. Still only 24 years old, Devers has tremendous gap-to-gap power that makes him a considerable threat to contend for the Home Run Derby title.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR)

Age: 22

2021 HR total: 18

Avg. exit velo: 94.5 mph

Avg. HR distance: 407 ft

Not only would Vladimir Guerrero Jr. be the youngest participant in this field, but he also stands the best chance at being the No. 1 seed as MLB’s current home run leader. Guerrero was the runner-up of the 2019 Home Run Derby behind Alonso but stole the show by hitting a record 29 homers in the first round. He should get another chance to make a run at the title.

Ryan McMahon (COL)

Age: 26

2021 HR total: 13

Avg. exit velo: 92.4 mph

Avg. HR distance: 420 ft

Every Home Run Derby should include one player from the home team’s roster. The fans get into it, and it makes for excellent TV when that player goes deep into the bracket. The Rockies’ best candidate to make some noise is Ryan McMahon, who leads the team in home runs. He also hits tanks: McMahon’s average home run distance of 420 feet is fifth highest in the majors among qualified hitters.

Shohei Ohtani (LAA)

Age: 26

2021 HR total: 16

Avg. exit velo: 92.7 mph

Avg. HR distance: 414 ft

This season’s headlines have been dominated by two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani. No one gets the barrel to the baseball better than the Japanese star, who is two homers short of the MLB lead while building a legitimate MVP case with both his bat and arm. Every one of Ohtani’s appearances this season has been must-see TV and the derby would be no different.

Juan Soto (WSH)

Age: 22

2021 HR total: 7

Avg. exit velo: 92.4 mph

Avg. HR distance: 408 ft

Juan Soto’s low home run total might give the casual fan pause, but the Nationals’ phenom led the majors in slugging percentage (.695) just last year and entered the season as a favorite to win NL MVP. Soto is one of baseball’s best power hitters when it comes to hitting the ball to all fields and he would give fans across Coors Field a souvenir if given the chance to participate.

Fernando Tatís Jr. (SDP)

Age: 22

2021 HR total: 17

Avg. exit velo: 92.4 mph

Avg. HR distance: 418 ft

Whether you know him as Fernando, El Niño or the next face of baseball, Tatís Jr. should be MLB’s biggest priority to secure as a Home Run Derby participant. Like the aforementioned Acuña, Guerrero and Soto, Tatís is a high-energy player that covets big moments and the excitement that comes with them. Oh yeah, he hits plenty of home runs too.

Jesse Winker (CIN)

Age: 27

2021 HR total: 17

Avg. exit velo: 91.9 mph

Avg. HR distance: 411 ft

OK, this final choice is technically cheating because there should be four AL players and four from the NL. Jesse Winker would tip the scales 5-3 in favor of the NL, but his breakout 2021 campaign has prompted this writer to bend the rules and make an exception. With a pair of three-homer games to his name this season, Winker has shown he can put on a show when his swing is working. That’s what the Home Run Derby is all about, after all.