After a year hiatus, Major League Baseball’s display of power returns.
Fans at Coors Field will get to watch some of the game’s best power hitters launch baseballs into the thin air in Denver, Colorado, in the 2021 Home Run Derby.
As the days get closer, the anticipation continues to build for who will be taking their hacks the day before the All-Star Game in the hopes of becoming the latest champion.
Sporting News is tracking who has confirmed they will be putting baseballs in orbit on Monday, June 12, at Coors Field.
Who has committed to participate in the 2021 Home Run Derby?
The field to this point might not look like the MLB home run leaderboard, but there is plenty of excitement with the names that have committed.
Angels two-way talent Shohei Ohtani leads the majors in home runs with 30 as of July 4 after he clobbered two against the Orioles on Friday as he has continued to put together his most extraordinary campaign to date. He was the first to commit to join the field.
The reigning Home Run Derby champion will also be making an appearance, hoping to be the first back-to-back winner since Yoenis Cespedes in 2013 and 2014. Mets first baseman Pete Alonso said he will be swining in Coors Field after winning the 2019 title. This year, his max exit velocity of 119 has him tied with Aaron Judge for the hardest hit baseball this year, according to Baseball Savant.
There have been three batters to win the event while playing in their home ballpark: Ryne Sandberk (Wrigley Field, 1990), Todd Frazier (Great American Ballpark, 2015) and Bryce Harper (2018). Rockies shortstop Trevor Story is hoping to become No. 4. Since breaking into the big leagues in 2016, only Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, J.D. Martinez and Nelson Cruz have hit more home runs in their home ballparks than Story and his 88 dingers at Coors Field.
It has been a storybook season for Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini. A year after beating cancer, Mancini has enjoyed a productive season in the middle of Baltimore’s lineup and now will get to show off his power at the Home Run Derby. Mancini has established himself as a premier power hitter, and at 531 games earlier this year, became the fastest Oriole in franchise history to reach 100 home runs.
Catchers don’t often appear in the Home Run Derby, but the Royals standout backstop Salvador Perez will take his hacks in this year’s contest. Perez has perhaps been one of the unluckiest sluggers to date this season as Baseball Savant gives him 24.5 expected home runs to only 20 hit so far, tied for the fourth-largest gap between actual home runs and expected home runs.
Coming up through the minors, power was always the calling card for Athletics first baseman Matt Olson, who once mashed 37 homers in just 138 games at Advanced-A in 2014. Now, he’ll get to put on his power display under the lights of Coors Field in the derby. He’s been a prolific source of power in the majors with at least 20 home runs in all but the COVID-shortened season of 2020.
One of the game’s exciting young talents will be putting his swing on display in the Home Run Derby when Nationals outfielder Juan Soto steps up to the plate. Soto has been known more for his discerning eye at the plate than his power as over the past two years he’s walked 92 times to just 75 strikeouts — an astonishing feat for a 22-year-old — but he hit 34 home runs in his second full season in the big leagues and with hard hit rates and xSLG numbers all in the 90th percentile, per Baseball Savant, he should be more than capable of putting on a show.
|Participant||Team||Home Runs||Max Distance|
*Stats updated prior to the start of games on Wednesday, July 7
Who will not be swinging at the derby?
A few players have already signaled that they will not be participating in the 2021 Home Run Derby.
Among them, one of the players likely to generate the most disappointment is Guerrero, who put on a show in the 2019 Home Run Derby before falling to Alonso in the finals, Hazel Mae reported on Twitter. Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., according to Annie Heilbrunn of the San Diego Union-Tribune, and Yankees sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez have also both opted out, according to CBS Sports. The Cubs’ Javier Baez has also confirmed that he will not be participating, according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers.
Has a pitcher ever competed in the Home Run Derby?
There has never been a pitcher compete in the Home Run Derby. Soon, however, that will no longer be the case as Ohtani has committed to take his hacks in the event.
Ohtani has of course been a complete anomaly as far as baseball performances. Only Babe Ruth in 1919 has hit more home runs among players that have also made at least 10 starts on the mound, when he slugged 29 in a full season and made 15 starts and 17 appearances while striking out 30 in 133.1 innings. Ohtani has 28 home runs and has started 11 games while striking out 82 in 59.1 innings of work.
What channel is the 2021 Home Run Derby?
ESPN will be carrying the Home Run Derby before Fox broadcasts the All-Star Game the following day. Those hoping to stream the event can watch it on ESPN+ or on fuboTV, which offers a seven-day free trial.
What time is the Home Run Derby?
- Date: Monday, July 12
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
The derby will begin at 8 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. MT, putting the backdrop for the evening’s event as the setting sun in Denver.