Logan Morrison of the Tampa Bay Rays made headlines by making his feelings known about this year’s Home Run Derby lineup, in particular, the presence of New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez.
“Gary shouldn’t be there. He’s a great player, but he shouldn’t be in the Home Run Derby,” Morrison said. “I remember when I had 14 home runs. That was a month and a half ago.”
Morrison currently has 24 home runs in 80 games this season, which is already a career-best for the 29-year-old. It’s 11 more than Sanchez’s 13, who missed almost a month earlier in the season. But it was the Yankees’ young star that got the invite to Miami instead of Morrison, who has a theory or two about why.
“I’m not disappointed. It’s par for the course. I play for the Rays. I get it,” he said. “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.”
Ah, the big market vs. small market argument. Normally, I’d dispell this Morrison’s whole argument, but he isn’t wrong.
Sanchez shouldn’t be in the Home Run Derby.
The Home Run Derby puts on display the best home run hitters around the league during the first half of the season. This season. Not last season and not next year, either.
Morrison is tied for third in the American League home run race with participant Mike Moustakas of the Kansas City Royals. That’s one behind George Springer of the Houston Astros, who does not want to compete, and four behind the more-than-deserving Aaron Judge, Sanchez’s teammate.
Sanchez is in a tie for 38th in the AL with the Minnesota Twins’ Brian Dozier.
Alongside Morrison, there were plenty more deserving candidates including Khris Davis of the Oakland Athletics (23 home runs), Justin Smoak of the Toronto Blue Jays (22) and Edwin Encarnacion of the Cleveland Indians (18), just to name a few.
Of course, my “hot take” has probably made plenty of Yankees fans foam at the mouth, and they have every right to defend their catcher.
When he’s been able to stay on the field, Sanchez has been an incredible power hitter. In his 104 games over the past two years, he’s put up 33 dingers, including 20 in 53 games during the 2016 season. That’s a 162-game pace of 51 home runs.
That’s incredible and has been used by countless Sanchez supporters to justify his place in the Home Run Derby.
But to play devil’s advocate, Morrison has belted 28 home runs in his last 100 games and is on a 45-home run, 162-game pace. That’s not too shabby, either.
Once again though, it should only be about this season.
On top of that, Morrison has averaged one home run in every 11.3 at bats in 2017. Sanchez has averaged one in every 15.1 at bats.
Morrison’s numbers this year are better and unless I’m missing something, that means he should be in the derby. Even if more people care about Sanchez.
At the end of the day though, it comes down to the entertainment factor and the MLB has to make sure it gets its ratings.
Another Yankee like Sanchez will ensure added interest from the country’s largest market. A Ray like Morrison wouldn’t.
I’m probably in the minority here, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a pseudo-journeyman like Morrison or even Eric Thames of the Milwaukee Brewers — who might just be having flash-in-the-pan first halves of a season, but are deserving All-Stars nonetheless — go up against the game’s biggest stars just for one night. It adds an underdog storyline to All-Star weekend.
That could create plenty of interest in itself regardless of what market a team plays in.