Home Run Leader: Not Included
That call never came.
On Saturday, the American League field for Monday’s State Farm Home Run Derby was set with Nick Swisher of the Yankees getting the final spot.
So here are your AL participants:
Miguel Cabrera, DET: 21 homers
Vernon Wells, TOR: 19 homers
David Ortiz, BOS: 17 homers
Nick Swisher, NYY: 14 homers
Jose Bautista? 24 homers.
Bautista’s total leads the Major Leagues and his solo shot in the eighth inning on Saturday was his third in the past four games. Was he surprised to not even be asked by the league if he would take part?
“A little bit,” Bautista said with a shrug. “But it’s nothing I can control.”
Bautista has a quiet personality and that comment is as close as he would ever come to saying publicly that not being considered was disrespectful. Ortiz — on the visitors’ side for this series in Toronto — has never been one to shy away from his thoughts, though.
Here’s what Big Papi had to say on Friday:
“The guy that I’m really worried about is not even in the Derby — Bautista, man. Come on, man. How is he not in the Derby? You need to start a campaign about him being in the Derby. He’s the home run leader. It’s a joke. He has to be there — he’s the leader. I don’t care, have two Blue Jays in there. If he wants to be in, he has to be in — I don’t care what anybody says.”
Would having two players from the Jays be ideal? Maybe not. And having one of those players be Bautista — let’s be honest, someone the average sports fan probably does not know much about — would not help matters. But, isn’t that what the All-Star Game is supposed to be about? Showcasing the best players on a national stage?
Players around baseball are aware of Bautista’s ability. If they weren’t, he would not have earned a spot on the American League All-Star team through player balloting. Since being given the chance to play every day — an opportunity he received beginning last September with the Jays — Bautista has thrived.
“He’s taken full advantage,” Wells said.
Let’s stack up Bautista against some of the game’s premiere power hitters. Dating back to the start of last September, here is how Bautista ranks when compared to some of the top sluggers in the game today:
Jose Bautista, TOR: 34 home runs
Prince Fielder, MIL: 29 home runs
Albert Pujols, STL: 27 home runs
Ryan Howard, PHI: 25 home runs
Adam Dunn, WAS: 25 home runs
Paul Konerko, CWS: 25 home runs
Josh Hamilton, TEX: 24 home runs
Kevin Youkilis, BOS: 23 home runs
Mark Reynolds, ARI: 23 home runs
David Ortiz, BOS: 23 home runs
“I don’t know if anybody could’ve predicted what he’s doing,” said Blue Jays catcher and fellow All-Star John Buck. “It seems like whenever he swings it’s either lined right at somebody, or it goes over the fence or he walks. I think you’d take that every time.
“I’m sure you guys hear him say he’s a line drive hitter, but he creates so much bat speed that those backspin line drives obviously become home runs.”
It’s the type of swing that could have played well in the Derby.
“I’d be thrilled to do it,” Bautista said.
Sure, maybe the Home Run Derby is glorified batting practice, but it was a chance for Bautista to take to the stage and show off what he has been doing for the Blue Jays all season. Maybe when Wells’ turn comes up, the center fielder will walk over to Bautista and hand over his bat.
How cool would that be?