I was working during both nights, but I’ve got a few takeaways from the all-star break from what I saw online.
Home Run Derby
1. The most obvious: Aaron Judge is a robot
I picked him up in fantasy in the third week of the season, and Mike Trout is the only pick I’ve ever been more impressed with myself over. I had no doubt going into this week that Judge would win the derby. A flick of the wrist, and that ball’s 500 feet away. Top two derby performances I’ve seen, with the other one being Josh Hamilton.
A lot of people worry when good hitters compete in the derby ’cause it ruins the swing, but I think this is a different story. He does strike out a lot, but he’s hitting .329. That average with 30 home runs and a ton of hits with over 100 mph exit velocity, I’m not too concerned. He’s trying to hit it in the air and over the fence, whether it’s in a game or in a home run derby. I’m more worried about Cody Bellinger, another one of my genius pickups this season, because he’s hitting just .261 and has had a couple of slumps with tons of strikeouts.
2. Sano bringing home runner-up honors
Even though he had the two worst opponents in the derby, kudos to our Twins rep for taking second. I loved this interview. Classy, respectful, thankful.
3. Derby format opinions
I love the timer aspect. Keeps guys swinging instead of taking eight pitches between swings. Also, it puts a lot more pressure on the pitcher. If hitter picks a guy who can’t locate, it’s not going to go well. This was another thing that Judge adjusted to well by hitting homers to all fields.
The thing I would change about the derby is the head-to-head format. In the finals, I want to see the best two hitters in the competition, not the ones who got lucky with bad opponents and were able to advance. My proposal would be to have all eight go until time expires, and the ones who haven’t hit yet aren’t allowed to watch the previous contestants. That way, no one is quitting their round once they hit enough home runs to advance, and they feel constant pressure and have to stay clutch through the whole thing.
After they all hit, the top four move on and do it again. Then the top two. It was a shame that Justin Bour, in front of his home crowd in the middle of a breakout season, couldn’t advance after posting the second highest total after the first round. Every first round matchup was a difference of one home run. I just wish each guy kept going until the time ran out to see how many they could really hit.
4. Bring Back Berman
The announcers were awful. If I’d’ve watched the whole thing through, I probably would’ve muted the TV. It was just that chick going “Oh my goodness!” every time the ball was hit. Not an easy thing to broadcast, but it could’ve been a lot better than it was.
1. Solid showing from the Twins
Sano: Single to knock in one of the two runs it took to win the game.
Kintzler: A late add to the AL roster, the Twins closer had a 1-2-3 fifth inning forcing three groundouts from Zack Cozart, Charlie Blackmon and Giancarlo Stanton.
Santana: Bummer, but Erv gave up the bomb to Yadi Molina after replacing Kintzler to start the sixth inning. Other than that mistake, also had a clean inning with a strikeout.
2. Astros shuffle
I found it curious that George Springer leads off regularly for the Astros but hit cleanup in the ASG, while Jose Altuve hits third for the Astros, but led off in the ASG. Just an observation, but apparently Brad Mills would manage the Astros differently than A.J. Hinch.
3. Chris Sale hitting triple digits
I saw a few tweets about Sale hitting 100 mph on the gun… Of course he did! He throws north of 95 in games that he’s throwing 7+ innings. I wasn’t surprised at all to see him touch 100 when he knows it’s going to be one of three batters he’ll face. After signing that huge contract, show the people what you can do.
4. Make it mean something
I agree with most people that giving the league that wins the All-Star game rights to home field advantage of four of the seven possible World Series games is barbaric. But I think the game should mean something. Some kind of stipulation that would keep Nelson Cruz’s picture with Joe West out of the top headlines from the break. Let the players bet on their own team for the one game, so the winning team essentially gets paid by the losing team. I dunno… something.
P.S. Wednesday and Thursday absolutely suck without any baseball. I hate the break. Play ball, let’s go Twins.