"Gary's a great player, but he shouldn't be in the Home Run Derby," says the Rays' first baseman.
There hasn't been much outcry over the 2017 Home Run Derby participants, namely because MLB got the two most obvious choices—defending champion Giancarlo Stanton and dinger machine Aaron Judge—right. The rest of the field is more or less there as sacrifice to those two gods of the round-tripper. But one potential All-Star is none too happy about the presence of one of Judge's teammates, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, in the homer-swatting contest. Per the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin:
Rays 1B Logan Morrison criticized MLB's decision to include Yankees C Gary Sanchez in the All-Star Home Run Derby.
"Gary shouldn't be there,'' Morrison said. "Gary's a great player, but he shouldn't be in the Home Run Derby."
Morrison has a pretty good case to be included, with 24 homers that, going into play Tuesday, ranked second most in the majors. Sanchez, who joins teammate Aaron Judge among the four AL players in the eight-man field, had 13 homers.
"I remember when I had 14 home runs,'' Morrison said. "That was a month and a half ago."
Morrison, who says he didn't get an invite to the event but would've accepted had the league reached out, is waiting to see if he'll make the AL All-Star squad via the Final Vote; at last tally, he was fifth among the five choices, with Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (who is part of the Home Run Derby field, by the way) leading the way.
Morrison is amid a career year with his 24 homers to go alongside a .256/.366/.579 line, 153 OPS+ and 2.7 WAR, but that didn't earn him any love from the Home Run Derby organizers, and he knows why.
"I'm not disappointed. It's par for the course. I play for the Rays. I get it. They can't even get my picture right. When they put my name up there they put Corey (Dickerson's) picture up there ... on MLB Network. When they put up the home run leaders they put Corey's swing on there not mine."
Morrison isn't exactly wrong here: He plays for a team with next-to-zero national exposure and a tiny fanbase, and despite those career-best 24 home runs, most MLB fans wouldn't be able to pick him out of a police lineup. But that's why Sanchez will be in the Home Run Derby and Morrison won't: MLB wants to showcase its brightest young stars, and that's what Gary Sanchez is.
It is a little odd that two Yankees got the call for the Derby, but it's not as if Sanchez is a terrible choice. He does have only 13 homers, but that's due in large part to having missed nearly a month of the season with a biceps strain. Plus, he was a homer-hitting machine in his rookie season last year, bashing 20 in 53 games. Sanchez doesn't get any cheap, Yankee Stadium-aided shots, either: His average true home-run distance of 420.9 feet is second-best in baseball (minimum nine homers), trailing only the Blue Jays' Kendrys Morales.
So while Morrison is right in theory, it's hard to argue against letting someone like Sanchez take his hacks, considering that he hits them far and hard and that he's clearly a key building block for MLB in terms of marketing the game. It's also as sour a look as exists for Morrison, given his snide comments about one of the game's great young players. And no offense to Logan, but I doubt fans are crying out to watch him take his batting practice whacks over the likes of Sanchez. Sorry, dude.