The stage was bright, included some of the league’s best rookies and had everyone smashing juiced-up baseballs out of Progressive Field in Cleveland for the 2019 MLB Home Run Derby. Even with last year’s National League MVP, Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers, having bowed out at the last minute due to an ailing back, the field consisted of a ton of mashers who were looking to put their stamp on one of the spectacle events during the All-Star break.
In a field full of first-time entrants, the likes of Yelich (who was replaced by Oakland Athletics slugger Matt Chapman), Joc Pederson, Josh Bell, Alex Bergman, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Carlos Santana are joined by rookie upstarts Pete Alonso and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., whom all fans should be aware of.
In an event that saw two rookies, Alonso and Guerrero Jr. make their way to the finals, it was the Mets rookie that stole the show, becoming the third rookie ever to win the Derby, as Wally Joyner of the Angels (co-champion, 1986) and Aaron Judge (outright champion, 2017) had completed that same feat before.
Even as electrifying as the 2019 derby was, what would make for an even better concept? Putting together a derby of the best sluggers ever in a bracket-style event that would finally settle, once and for all, who the best home run derby participant is.
With the pool of entrants being quite large to choose from, narrowing them down is a very difficult task to do, but here are what a ten-man field of entrants of the greats could resemble.
Hank Aaron vs. Mike Trout
Babe Ruth vs. Vladimir Guerrero
Willie Mays vs. Ken Griffey Jr.
Albert Pujols vs. David Ortiz
Jim Thome vs. Frank Thomas
Pitting Aaron against Trout would be enough of a spectacle in its own right, as these two transcendent talents have taken over the MLB at different time periods, treating the game well and its fans even better. The next matchup would be a basher’s haven, as both Ruth and the eldest Guerrero would be up there hacking at every pitch thrown to them, so it would be one of those cannot-miss spectacles that could get ugly at times.
For Mays versus Griffey Jr., two absolute sluggers who had a ton of fun doing it, which would be an easy sell to the fans. Pujols and Ortiz would be a matchup that includes two players that actually played against each other already, as did Thome and Thomas in their heyday too.
With an influx of new talent sprinkled throughout the list and matching up against old-time legends, this type of derby would absolutely blow every other derby out of the water. With a mix of solid power, lack of plate discipline, lefty hacking abilities and more, these ten would be a great step in making the home run derby a bit more for everyone.