A player who has never been invited to the Home Run Derby has some hot opinions about who should be allowed to participate in the event. Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Logan Morrison doesn’t seem all that happy New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez was asked to take part in the Derby.
Morrison told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times he has nothing against Sanchez, but he doesn’t think the catcher should be in the 2017 Home Run Derby.
“Gary shouldn’t be there,” Morrison said. “Gary’s a great player, but he shouldn’t be in the Home Run Derby.”
“I remember when I had 14 home runs,” Morrison said. “That was a month and a half ago.”
Well then, that’s pretty harsh.
Morrison, who has 24 home runs, was not asked to take part in the event. He believes it’s because he plays for the Rays.
“I’m not disappointed. It’s par for the course. I play for the Rays. I get it. They can’t even get my picture right. When they put my name up there they put Corey (Dickerson’s) picture up there … on MLB Network. When they put up the home run leaders they put Corey’s swing on there not mine.”
Morrison actually overestimated Sanchez’s home run total. The 24-year-old catcher has 13 home runs, which is tied for 72nd in the majors. It’s worth noting that Sanchez missed time earlier in the year, and has been limited to just 52 games. He’s also a catcher and doesn’t play as often as other position players.
While 13 home runs is the lowest total of any player in the Home Run Derby, it ranks second among catchers. Only Salvador Perez has more, and he’s played 23 more games.
Now, before you dismiss Morrison’s stance, there’s a part of his argument that makes a valid point. If MLB is looking for the game’s best power hitters, they could have invited players closer to the top on the home run leaderboard.
In many cases, they did. Joey Votto and Joey Gallo turned down the league’s invite. Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant and George Springer have previously expressed no interest in the event.
Were there still exciting options out there with more home runs than Sanchez? Probably. It would have been fun to see Eric Thames get a shot in the Derby. He belted monstrous home runs in Korea, and has a great story. Paul Goldschmidt and Robinson Cano are great players with a strong following. They could have worked as well. Carlos Correa would have been great … the list goes on and on.
Instead, the league went with Sanchez. Aside from the low home run total, which was depressed by an injury, it’s not a terrible choice. Sanchez has demonstrated tremendous pop over his short career. His career slugging percentage is just under .600. According to Baseball Reference, Sanchez’s 162-game average is 50 home runs. His power is elite.
On top of that, Sanchez is just 24, and a rising star in the game. Unlike Correa, he’s never had the chance to shine in the postseason. While he was the talk of the Yankees during the second half of 2016, Aaron Judge has taken away that attention this year. This could be Sanchez’s opportunity to really explode in front of a national audience. He already should be considered a young superstar, but being in the Derby might help. The league knows that.
It also helps that he plays for the Yankees. Whether you love them or hate them, you can’t deny they have many passionate fans. More people may tune in because Sanchez was chosen over a guy like Yonder Alonso … even though Alonso has a strong argument.
The best revenge for Sanchez would be winning the whole thing, though that seems unlikely. Due to Sanchez’s low home run total, he’ll probably go head-to-head with Judge in the first round. As sweet as it would be for Sanchez to triumph, we selfishly want to see Judge mash for as long as possible. We’re guessing most fans agree.
In the end, does anyone besides Morrison care about Sanchez’s inclusion? The Home Run Derby is supposed to be crazy, fun and stupid. It doesn’t really mean anything, in the end. We watch it because it’s goofy and we love seeing massive dingers. It’s entertainment. That’s all.
Because of that, how can we be mad at Morrison? He just added drama to an event that doesn’t normally have any. It’s a WWE heel move, and we can get behind it. In classic wrestling fashion, Logan Morrison just worked himself into a work, and all of us marks just ate it up.
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