With home runs being hit at a historic rate this season, naturally the home run derby should be an instant classic. At the moment, there are roughly 20 players on pace for 40 home runs and six on pace for 50. The last time the league produced double-digit 40-homer seasons was 2006; there haven’t been more than two players with 50 home runs in one season since 2001.
With nearly every player in the league cranking long balls at an elite pace, the choices for the 2019 Home Run Derby are endless and, of course, some big-name sluggers are going to be slugged. There’s a case to be made for players like Cody Bellinger and Gary Sanchez, but here’s the perfect 2019 Home Run Derby lineup.
Francisco Lindor – Cleveland Indians
I’m a big believer in having the derby always feature a player from the host city. Who better for the hosting Cleveland Indians than perennial MVP candidate and superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor? Sure, Lindor isn’t exactly known for clubbing home runs, he’s got a shot at hitting 30 long balls for the third straight season despite missing Cleveland’s first 19 games. I guess it’s not a bad consolation that we get his teammate and fellow switch-hitter Carlos Santana instead.
Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout repeatedly refusing to participate in the Home Run Derby is like LeBron James never doing the dunk contest; it’s just not fair. It’s understandable why he doesn’t. Some players lose their rhythm in the second half of the season after participating and there’s always the risk of injury. Trout has said on several occasions that “eventually he’ll do it.” With the potential for one of the most star-studded derby lineups ever, why not make 2019 the year to do it?
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays
Good news: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has already confirmed that he’ll be participating in the 2019 derby. The son of one of the most famous sluggers of all-time, Vlad Jr. has lived up to expectations so far, averaging 427 feet of distance on his seven homers this season. That’s tied for second-best among all players with at least 100 batted-ball events (BBE). He’s a 250-pound mound of power that hits absolute moonshots. He was built for the Home Run Derby and he might be a good bet to take home the title in Cleveland.
Joey Gallo – Texas Rangers
This one is essentially a guarantee not to happen this year as Joey Gallo is currently rehabbing an oblique injury. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be an ideal derby candidate. He averages a ridiculous 96.4 miles per hour in exit velocity with over 57 percent of hit BBE over 95 mph. The lefty slugger drilled 81 homers over the last two years and was on pace to break the 50 mark before his injury this season. If there’s anyone that could jack a couple of 500-foot moonshots, it’s Joey Gallo.
Josh Bell – Pittsburgh Pirates
Another switch-hitting slugger, Josh Bell is in the midst of a breakout campaign. The power-hitting first-baseman leads baseball with 66 RBI and 28 doubles but also has 20 long balls. He even drove one into the Allegheny River. Twice. With 14 of his homers coming as a lefty hitter, it’s safe to say which side he’d choose in the derby.
Christian Yelich – Milwaukee Brewers
I mean, is an explanation necessary here? Christian Yelich leads all of baseball with 29 bombs and has a real chance at cracking the 60-homer plateau. He’s somehow better than his 2018 self where he ran away with the NL MVP award. Yelich won’t hit 500-foot tanks like some other names on this list, but he’ll still provide plenty of entertainment with a ton of laser line drives.
Giancarlo Stanton – New York Yankees
Battling a few injuries, Giancarlo Stanton has just one homer in 2019 and probably won’t even be considered for this year’s derby. So what? Stanton is so ridiculously good at the Home Run Derby it’s almost annoying. He lights up the competition and could probably launch a baseball 400 feet with a broomstick. I don’t care if Stanton hits under the Mendoza line for the rest of his career; he deserves an automatic invite to every derby.
Pete Alonso – New York Mets
Pete Alonso is one of few bright spots on the New York Mets and might be having one of the best rookie campaigns of all-time. He’s already broke the Mets’ rookie home run record for a full season and his current pace of 55 bombs would break the MLB rookie record. Alonso has hit the ball with the barrel 40 times this season, trailing only Trout in that category. How fun would a rookie showdown between Alonso and Guerrero Jr. be?