Mike Trout Needs To Enter The Home Run Derby
By Andrew Petrucci
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Baseball may be the best out of all the sports in terms of All-Star Week festivities. Facts are facts, the NFL Pro Bowl is nothing more than a glorified game of two hand touch, with less defense than a flag football league. The NBA has lost any luster it once had by seeing the Dunk Contest become an event that routinely turned down by every player that fans would want to see. Which leaves us with the MLB, where the game itself means home field advantage in the World Series, and gives a bit of incentive for players to showcase their talents.
The Home Run Derby has become a crown jewel event. It started with the juiced era of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa depositing balls on to neighboring turnpikes, and has kept interest amongst superstar players each year. But just like anything else, there are the naysayers that believe the derby will ruin their swing and curse them for the second half of the season.
Mike Trout is in an interesting position, as essentially the face of baseball and arguably the best hitter in the game right now, it may be time for him to participate. Trout is unlike most derby participants because he is not thought of as a power hitter but more so as just a pure hitter that squares up almost anything. Due to his hitting style and talent, there is virtually nothing to worry about him ruining his swing because of a few rounds of glorified batting practice.
His age and the fact he has only begun to scratch the surface of what his career will be make it all the more justified to do it now. All of the great players in baseball history have participated in this event, which make it a meaningful award. Unlike the NBA Dunk Contest, the superstars in baseball want to be in this event and realize the importance of what winning a Home Run Derby means to their legacy. Just look at some of the derby winners: Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Cal Ripken Jr., all of whom are Hall of Famers.
The importance of Mike Trout participating in the event is not just to add another trophy for his case, but to keep the baseball history alive. The derby needs the best of the best, and Trout is the guy to ensure that. Its like if LeBron James were to enter the Dunk Contest, it would immediately elevate the competition and promote other stars to participate.
Of course, standing in the way of of Trout entering the event is all of the number crunching baseball pests. If you hold weight in skewed statistics then we know where you stand. The drop off in average derby participants is instead of a home run every 4 or 5 at bats pre-derby, it turns into a home run every 6 or 7 at bats for the participant after the derby. This is a case of why all these “saber metrics” are bad for baseball. These numbers are likely inflated because most of the players in the derby hit for low averages, high strikeout rates, and have noticeable holes in their swing. The comparison of Mike Trout to Ken Griffey Jr. is more on par with the type of player and derby impact to expect. Griffey won this event numerous times, and never suffered the so called “slump”, just look at the numbers.
Ken Griffey Jr. Season Statistics As Home Run Derby Winner
1994- .323 AVG 40 HR 90 RBI
1998- .286 AVG 56 HR 146 RBI
1999- .285 AVG 48 HR 134 RBI
If you’re afraid that Mike Trout will enter the derby and suddenly forget to hit the rest of the season then you simply haven’t watched him play.