All-Star Weekend is almost upon us, and we still don’t know much about the field for this year’s Home Run Derby. Bryce Harper is in (now that he’s an All-Star) and new Dinger Demigod Max Muncy recently confirmed that he’ll take part.
That’s just a quarter of the eight-man field, though, and the remaining six spots are unknown. Aaron Judge is out. So too is Giancarlo Stanton. A void exists, but that void is also an opportunity — for creative thinking, for redefining what a slugger can be.
Ladies, gentlemen, lovers of dingers the world over, lend me your ears: It’s time to get Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen into the 2018 Home Run Derby.
Home Runs in the month of June:
Bryce Harper: 2
Michael Lorenzen: 3
– Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) July 1, 2018
You’re no doubt aware that a pitcher has never taken part in the Derby before. But if we’re going to make baseball history, shouldn’t we do it with one of the very best hitting pitchers of all-time? Consider: Among pitchers who have recorded at least 50 career plate appearances, only two — Terry Forster and Ken Tatum — have recorded an OPS higher than Lorenzen’s .814. Forster never homered in the Majors. Tatum hit four. Lorenzen had three … in three consecutive pinch-hit at-bats last month.
Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez — good hitters, right? Take a gander at this:
Lorenzen has five homers over 62 career at-bats, and if you’re worried about whether he has the kind of power that would allow him to compete with the best sluggers in baseball, don’t be: He can go deep anywhere against any pitch, from fastballs to dead-center …
… to breaking balls the other way:
But this isn’t just about numbers or highlights. This is about something far greater: hope. For far too long, pitchers have been pigeonholed at the plate, thought of as little more than comic relief. Even the best ones have come with a qualifier: “He’s a good hitter … for a pitcher.”
Times are changing, though. These days, pitchers are pinch hitting, DH’ing, even becoming two-way players. Why should Lorenzen’s day job — he’s got a 2.45 ERA for Cincy this year, by the way — prevent him from chasing his home run dreams? In the age of Shohei Ohtani , who’s to say that, at least for one night, baseball’s best slugger might come out of the bullpen?
For those who believe in breaking down barriers, for those who dare to dream, the choice is clear.