Outrage! What a travesty done to the rich, nuanced history of the Home Run Derby that Pittsburgh Pirates‘ Pedro Alvarez wasn’t selected to the premier spotlight event of the Midsummer Classic! The baseball world has been absolutely robbe … oh, he was selected?
But what other meaningless, just-for-fun exhibitions are folks supposed to be get all riled up about now?
See, the Bucs third baseman finally made it onto the foursome that will quite literally slug it out against their AL compatriots during the All-Star Game; though as long as we’re talking about trying to win here, you can’t exactly say that the circumstance under which he made it on the squad actually helps the league all that much.
That’s because he’ll be replacing Colorado Rockies slugger Carlos Gonzalez, who has smartly withdrawn from the contest to rest a hand injury.
That’d be the same Gonzalez, by the way, who hit his NL-leading 25th homer on Thursday, and who is one of the hottest-hitting players in the game, home runs or otherwise. To miss his bat in the annual Derby is like subtraction by addition; while Alvarez certainly has a good case for a spot over say, Michael Cuddyer, it’s hard to imagine that he’d be any sort of upgrade over CarGo here.
Then again, if David Wright was really serious (hint: he’s not) about trying to win this thing against the crew that Bronx Bombers second baseman Robinson Cano has chosen, maybe he should have withdrawn his own participation and picked the guys with the most pure power regardless of the home run totals (I’m looking at you, Giancarlo Stanton and Paul Goldschmidt).
Which, I suppose, perfectly illustrates the point that this is by no means any sort of a serious contest.
It’s nice that Alvarez will get to show off his prodigal power that once made him one of the top prospects in the game, sure, and that he’ll get to do it in front of a national audience and potentially raise the team’s profile is even better. Perspective is important here, though, and barring some sort of Josh Hamilton-like coming out party, it’s unlikely even Pirates fans will remember the contest for too long even if Alvarez ends up winning.
Especially when, you know, the team has far more important things to worry about — like trying to win the NL Central.