A busy week for Major League Baseball kicked off Sunday with the Futures Game during the day and the first 36 picks of the 2021 MLB Draft in the evening. It’ll continue with Day Two of the draft today and the annual Home Run Derby this evening.
Tonight’s eight-player field consists of top seed Shohei Ohtani, followed (in order of MLB’s seeding) by Joey Gallo, Matt Olson, Salvador Perez, Pete Alonso, Trey Mancini, Trevor Story and Juan Soto. One half of the bracket will see Ohtani/Soto and Perez/Alonso in first-round matchups, while the other half will see Gallo/Story and Olson/Mancini. We’ll take a very brief look at each participating slugger’s season to date (sorted by their first-round matchup) before opening up polls on who fans are rooting for and who they expect to take home the trophy.
- Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, Angels: Ohtani has been the talk of baseball in 2021, leading MLB with 33 home runs while also pitching to a 3.49 ERA with a 30.7 percent strikeout rate on the mound.
- .279/.364/.698, 33 home runs
- 93.7 mph average exit velocity, 119 mph max exit velo, 26 percent barrel rate
- Juan Soto, OF, Nationals: Soto hasn’t matched his 2019 power output, but he’s the youngest entrant in the field and has been one of baseball’s elite hitters from the moment he homered in his first big league at-bat back in 2018.
- .283/.407/.445, 11 home runs
- 92.6 mph average exit velo, 115.3 mph max, 10.8 percent barrel rate
- Joey Gallo, OF, Rangers: After a slow start, Gallo looks well on his way to another 40-homer season. He’s hitting .308/.479/.838 with 15 home runs since June 4.
- .239/.402/.522, 24 home runs
- 92.4 mph average exit velo, 115.1 mph max, 19.6 percent barrel rate
- Trevor Story, SS, Rockies: Story will take the field hoping for an upset win that could serve as something of a Coors Field farewell with the trade deadline and free agency looming.
- .249/.323/.442, 11 home runs
- 90.7 mph average exit velo, 110.2 mph max, 9.2 percent barrel rate
- Salvador Perez, C, Royals: The seven-time All-Star gets better with age. He’s ripped 32 home runs in just 519 plate appearances dating back to the beginning of the 2020 campaign.
- .275/.300/.501, 21 home runs
- 93 mph average exit velo, 114.2 mph max, 14.3 percent barrel rate
- Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets: Alonso will defend his 2019 title — there was no 2020 Home Run Derby — in the midst of a hot streak. Eleven of the Polar Bear’s 17 big flies have come since Memorial Day weekend.
- .250/.328/.478, 17 home runs
- 92.7 mph average exit velo, 117.1 mph max, 15.7 percent barrel rate
- Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics: Since 2017, the underrated Olson leads all full-time first basemen with 126 home runs, and he’s on pace to top his career-high mark of 36.
- .282/.371/.567, 23 home runs
- 92 mph average exit velo, 115.3 mph max, 14.4 percent barrel rate
- Trey Mancini, 1B/OF, Orioles: That Mancini was able to return to the field at all after being diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in early 2020 is remarkable; a derby win would be a feel-good story for baseball fans everywhere.
- .256/.331/.460, 16 home runs
- 88.5 mph average exit velo, 113.9 mph max, 12.9 percent barrel rate
Who do you want to see win the 2021 Home Run Derby? (Link to poll for app users)
Who do you think will win the 2021 Home Run Derby? (Link to poll for app users)