Sadly, this is the most exciting topic for Major League Baseball’s All-Star break, pitchers wanting to be in the Home Run Derby. We’re not talking about a potential showdown between Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper or David Ortiz, we’re talking about Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta. At least we’re talking about it, I guess.
That being said, I do think that A. it will happen and B. it will be interesting. Hey, the MLB is looking to spice up the All-Star break any way they can given how annoyingly poor the All-Star voting is going. If including pitchers in the Home Run Derby is going to bring some more interest, you know the MLB is going to do their best to make it happen.
One thing can be sure of: The pitchers want in the Home Run Derby.
— Noah Syndergaard (@Noahsyndergaard) June 11, 2016
The biggest issue here, and it’s a big one, is the health concerns for the pitchers. Yes, they’re professional athletes, but no, they’re not used to taking so many hacks at once, it’s just not what they’re paid for. Think about how pissed Bruce Bochy would be if Madison Bumgarner pulls up lame in round 2 because he strained his oblique — or worse, pulled a Wainwright and tore his achilles.
Buster Olney came up with an interesting option that allows for multiple pitchers to compete (Bumgarner, Arrieta and Wainwright have all expressed interest) without needing anyone to swing for multiple rounds. His suggestion would be to have pitchers act as a relay from round to round each time they advance. So, Bumgarner could open the derby for the pitchers and should he do enough to advance, Arrieta could take over for him in round 2 and so on. Not too shabby and could level the playing field given how much fresher each pitcher would be compared to the position players.
Other ideas have included a separate division in the derby for the pitchers to compete. Also intriguing, but wouldn’t do a great job of addressing the injury concerns and quite frankly would take too much time.
I think Olney’s relay idea is the best one so far, allowing the pitchers to compete without asking them to do too much. My only concern is: what if they win? It’s pretty unlikely, but if each pitcher gets to start fresh while the position players are still recovering from the previous round, there’s a chance they could pull it off. Would we really crown the “pitcher team” the winners of the Home Run Derby? Is it best to just not let them compete, after all?
What do you think?