One of the highlights of the All-Star break is the Home Run Derby, pitting some of the best hitters in the league against each other in a tournament-style slugfest. With eight participants, seeding is decided by home run totals heading into the break, and it is a single elimination format, consisting of three rounds until a winner is crowned. (You can read the full rules from last year’s derby here.)
So far, five participants have committed to the derby: Mariners OF Julio Rodríguez, Dodgers OF Mookie Betts, Rays OF Randy Arozarena, Mets 1B Pete Alonso, and Blue Jays 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
This will be Betts’ and Arozarena’s derby debut, while Guerrero returns for the first time since 2019, his rookie season. Rodríguez participated in last year’s tournament and finished in second place to winner Juan Soto. Alonso has won twice, in 2019 and 2021, and will be looking for his third victory.
With three spots left, there are a few interesting names who could emerge as potential participants, with the tournament only a week away. Here are a few players that would be a great addition to the Home Run Derby.
Shohei Ohtani – DH/RHP (Angels)
This one is a complete no-brainer. One of the best players on the entire planet, Ohtani does it all on both sides of the ball. The lefty batter currently leads the league with 31 home runs and has the longest home run on the season at 493 feet. The Japanese product also boasts a 93.9-MPH average exit velocity.
Ohtani leads the Angels in pretty much every offensive statistical category, and as a pending free agent this offseason, he has been one of the most-watched players this year.
Having Ohtani compete in the derby would be an absolute treat considering how he can mash the ball. He’s no stranger to the tournament, having participated back in 2021 (he was eliminated in the first round after a slugfest with Juan Soto).
While he hasn’t publicly said whether he is in or out, it wouldn’t be surprising if he decides not to participate, given his critical role with the Angels and that he might like to take some additional time off (other than participating in the All-Star Game) rather than try and hit more dingers.
Ronald Acuña Jr. – RF (Braves)
Acuña has been one of the most prolific hitters in the league since his debut back in 2018, boasting 141 knocks in that time. He currently has 21 home runs on the year and sits eighth in the league in that category as well. The righty batter has been demolishing the baseball as of late (five home runs in his last seven games).
Acuña also leads the National League in slugging, with a .600 SLG on the year to go with his 1.011 OPS and 168 OPS+, both of which also lead the NL.
The Dominican product has two derbies under his belt, one back in 2019, where he lost in the semi-finals to Pete Alonso, and one last season, where he lost in the first round to Alonso again.
The Mets first baseman is back in the derby, but maybe the third time is still the charm for Acuña, who is currently riding a hot streak that could see him take home the derby honors as well.
Elly De La Cruz – INF (Reds)
One of the hottest names in baseball is Cincinnati Reds rookie Elly De La Cruz, who has helped the club go 16-6 in the 22 games that he’s played. The towering 6-foot-5 De La Cruz has three home runs on the year through 96 at-bats. His first home run was a no-doubter to right field in his second game, a 458-foot, two-run blast that barely stayed in the stadium.
While his home run totals aren’t as high as some other potential contestants – considering he’s only been in the league since the start of June – having De La Cruz in the derby would be a treat to watch, as the slugger has the ability to hit for power and put on quite a show at T-Mobile Park.
Corbin Carroll – OF (Diamondbacks)
Homegrown stories are always great to see, and having Seattle product Corbin Carroll in the Home Run Derby would be something for the local fans to really relish in, if he was to take part in the festivities.
The Diamondbacks outfielder is already heading to Seattle as the one of the National League’s starting outfielders, and the lefty batter has 17 home runs on the year, tied for 15th in the league. With a .544 slugging, Carroll has the ability to drive the ball out of the Mariners’ home park and would give fans a chance to see one of the top rookies in the league.