Baseball’s annual Home Run Derby made some vast improvements last season by moving to a bracket format, where sluggers go 1-on-1 while a clock ticks down. Last year’s new-and-improved derby was a lot of fun — and drama.
We liked that. But there’s one more thing MLB can do make the Home Run Derby great again: Give pitchers their own derby. Yes, we know Madison Bumgarner wants in the derby against the position-playing sluggers. But there have also been rumors that MLB is considering adding a pitchers-only derby.
Sign. Us. Up.
So for this week’s installment of the Big League Stew roundtable, we asked our writers who they’d pick to win the still-in-our-dreams pitchers’ derby. You’ll find some good names below — including the most entertaining pitcher to step in the batter’s box every five days.
If you’re reading this, Jake Arrieta, please don’t come after us for snubbing you. However, fair readers, If you’d like to defend the honor of Arrieta, Clayton Kershaw or any other pitcher who rakes, feel free to do so in the comments.
Call me crazy, but I actually think Zack Greinke could be a good hitter. Greinke is clearly passionate about the craft, flipping his bat on numerous occasions and admitting he wanted to hit when he signed out of high school. On top of that, Greinke has the second-highest hard-hit rate among pitchers over the last three seasons, trailing only Madison Bumgarner. He can hit the ball hard, takes his job seriously and is incredibly entertaining. A pitcher’s Home Run Derby without Greinke is a pitcher’s Home Run Derby I don’t want to watch. (Chris Cwik)
Out of every MLB pitcher, I think it would be the most fun to watch Bartolo Colon try to hit dinger after dinger after dinger. Before he came to the Mets in 2014, he’d spent all but one year of his career in the AL, so hitting is still relatively new to him. But we’ve seen that when he gets a pitch to hit, he can give it a righteous ride. Plus, the guy is built like an old-school, beer-league hurler. Who wouldn’t want to see a player like that launch balls into the stratosphere?
I can imagine him standing at the plate, bat raised, his helmet constantly sliding down his forehead, taking giant hacks with a big ol’ smile on his face. No, he may not win the (currently imaginary) pitcher’s Home Run Derby, but I guarantee that no one will have more fun — or be more fun to watch — than Bartolo Colon. (Liz Roscher)
Fine, I guess I’ll be the one to pick MadBum. He’s the guy who has really escalated the talks of this pitcher’s Home Run Derby, so he deserves to not only be the first guy in, but the No. 1 seed. This isn’t preferential treatment either. He’s earned it. He’s hit two homers this year. He hit four last year. Five the season before. He’s got 13 in his career. And if none of those numbers impress you, how about this one?
Yep. That’s real. If MLB doesn’t actually go ahead with the pitcher’s Home Run Derby, Bumgarner should take it to a San Diego sandlot and challenge another MLB ace, one-on-one. It simply must happen. (Mike Oz)
Syndergaard has thrown his support behind teammate Bartolo Colon for the pitcher’s home-run derby, but really he’s the New York Mets pitcher who deserves to be the one swinging for the fences. After all, he did hit two homers in one game earlier this year and there’s absolutely no questioning just how strong he is.
He’s also proven to have a flair for the dramatic. If Syndergaard can handle a bat like Thor wields a hammer, he should be the favorite to win this competition and it would be a treat to watch. (Israel Fehr)
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