It has been a while, but it looks like the home run has made it’s long-awaited return to Major League Baseball and it has done so in a big way.
Over the past decade, we have seen a rise in pitcher dominance in baseball, and quite honestly it was getting a little boring. But this past month, MLB sluggers broke the 17-year-old record of home runs hit in a single month. They totaled a whopping 1,101 home runs, surpassing the old mark of 1,069 big flys.
Let’s go back a little bit.
In the year 2000, there were 47 players who finished the season with at least 30 home runs and set the record for most home runs in a single season with 5,693. Sammy Sosa was at the head of the bunch with 50 dingers, followed by the likes of Barry Bonds, Jeff Bagwell, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro, to name a few.
Now take note that this was during the “Steroid Era” and little did we know that performance enhancing use was about to hit its stride.
Nonetheless, this rise in home runs hit in 2017 has been eye-opening, but I do not believe we are heading back into another tainted era of baseball.
What my conclusion (and many others around the league) is, is that it’s the balls.
It’s the most realistic explanation in my mind. I will leave it at that. Now, on to the fun stuff.
This is the first time I have been genuinely excited for a Home Run Derby in a long time. Don’t get me wrong, over the past decade, there have been some outstanding performances, but I found the field was thin and uncompetitive at times.
This year is different. There are some guys who have big time careers ahead of themselves and not just in the home run department.
Two of the most valuable sports teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees, have big-time stakes in this Home Run Derby.
With Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez reawakening the "Evil Empire" and Cody Bellinger piggybacking Corey Seager’s performance last year, sparks are going to fly in Miami on Monday.
I am excited to see how this will play out after All-Star weekend because it’s not farfetched to say we will have a Dodger-Yankees World Series at season's end.
It’s not only the storyline of the Yankees and Dodgers that makes this Home Run Derby intriguing, though.
The hometown Marlins have not only one, but two of their everyday players in the derby field. Giancarlo Stanton, who is no stranger to Home Run Derbys, (let us not forget that Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs at Petco Park during last year's derby) returns to defend his crown on home turf. Stanton will be joined by his teammate Justin Bour, who is off to a breakout first half of the season.
I cannot wait for Monday night. I have a feeling that this is one Home Run Derby that you do not want to miss.