I absolutely love the enthusiasm from one of the game’s best pitchers, but it’s tough to consider any scenario in which Justin Verlander gets voted into the Home Run Derby.
About a week ago, Verlander discussed with reporters that he would participate in this year’s Home Run Derby at Citi Field if fans voted him in. He said he could probably hit about three or four home runs and called himself a batting practice hitter. In 24 at-bats this season, not only does he not have a home run, but he also doesn’t even have a hit.
It’s nice that the fans have a say in the All-Star voting -- though usually that winds up being just a popularity contest rather than an actual judge of talent. But for the Home Run Derby, it really should just be whoever is hitting the most home runs in that particular season.
Instead, fans can now vote on whom they would like to see in the derby. The ballot comes out at the same time as the regular All-Star ballot.
So this year, the two guys who are leading their respective leagues in home runs -- Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis and the red-hot Domonic Brown of the Philadelphia Phillies -- do not even appear on the ballot.
Frankly, it would be a shame if Verlander was voted in -- as write-in candidate, nonetheless -- and Davis was left out.
The whole point of the Home Run Derby is for the fans to be able to see home runs. Citi Field is a huge ballpark, so in order for the fans to actually see home runs, big-time home run hitters will need to participate.
This whole Verlander situation is just a group of fans thinking they can outsmart the league. Verlander is a competitive guy, so it’s fine that he said would participate if the fans selected him.
But there’s no way the Tigers let him take part in a competition in which he’s swinging as hard as he can. The All-Star Game is one thing, since now the outcome counts. Plus he’d be pitching, not hitting.
Verlander just signed a huge contract extension, and if he were to get hurt in the Home Run Derby, the same fans that would have voted him in would then be an uproar that they lost their best pitcher to a meaningless activity.
Maybe I’m reading too much in this, but there are enough crazy fans out there who will stuff the ballot box with Verlander ballots to try to get him elected. These fans probably just want to see what the league would do in that situation.
Would the league honor the fan vote? If so, would the league force the Tigers to have Verlander participate since he was voted in? Would the league not choose him, thus proving that the fan vote really doesn’t matter?
Most likely, we won’t have to worry about any of these questions, but before you vote for the derby, think about who actually deserves it rather than trying to handcuff the league into conundrum.