Today has seen a drip-drip reveal of Home Run Derby participants, including luminaries of the power space like Pete Alonso and Ronald Acuña Jr. Fun, good, and makes sense.
And then there was another reveal. This evening. A surprising one:
Pujols, who was named to the National League All-Star team by commissioner Rob Manfred thanks to a new clause under the latest collective bargaining agreement, will join two-time reigning champion Pete Alonso of the Mets and Braves phenom Ronald Acuña Jr., who both confirmed their participation earlier Monday afternoon.
This will be the fifth Home Run Derby for Pujols, who also participated in 2003, 2007, 2009 (at Busch Stadium) and 2015. He will join Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, the MLB commissioner’s selection from the American League, at the All-Star Game on July 19, the 11th All-Star appearance of his storied career.
Pujols, who is going to be in the All-Star Game by virtue of a special designation from the Commissioner’s Office, will also be participating in the eight-player Home Run Derby.
I expect the reactions to this news will be varied.
On the one hand, Pujols is a legend, he’s retiring, and he could add a different kind of fun to the event, especially for the younger players.
… on the other hand, Pujols has five homers this year. He has not had more that 23 homers in a season since 2016. The current version of Pujols doesn’t exactly fit the mold.
So I mostly say, “whatever.” I was on board with the All-Star designations for Pujols and Miguel Cabrera because it’s a showcase event and it’s not supposed to be all that serious. And it’s not like the Derby is MORE serious than the All-Star Game, but there are only eight slots and Pujols’ inclusion means some other slugger won’t be there. Hey, maybe Jason Heyward’s knee will be healed up in time for the event? I mean if we’re just putting veterans in there for any reason? Bring Ichiro back!
One positive we can hope on? Please pick Patrick Wisdom for the Derby so that he can CRUSH Pujols in the first round!
Unless Pujols winds up the reason Wisdom doesn’t make it …