Major League Baseball has changed some of the features surrounding this year’s All-Star festivities. Cincinnati Reds’ outfielder Yasiel Puig would be a perfect candidate for the Home Run Derby.
C’mon Reds fans, admit it. You want to see Yasiel Puig in this year’s Home Run Derby. The newly acquired Cincinnati Reds slugger would be exactly who Major League Baseball is trying to coax into the biggest event of the All-Star festivities and I don’t think Puig would disappoint.
Yasiel Puig was acquired by the Cincinnati Reds from the Los Angeles Dodgers back in December. The deal was thought to have a three-tiered effect. First, it got Homer Bailey out of Cincinnati. Second, it’ll improve the Reds’ outfield and make them more competitive. Finally, it’ll help fill Great American Ball Park with fans excited to watch Puig’s fun-loving style of play.
That last piece is exactly why Puig is the perfect candidate for this year’s Home Run Derby. Major League Baseball made some changes yesterday to their All-Star festivities, creating a $2.5M prize pool for the Home Run Derby including a $1M bonus for the winner.
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The idea behind this is to bring some of the biggest and brightest stars of the game to the table. A $1M incentive is sure to do that. Baseball is trying to make the sport more marketable, and getting their stars to perform on the biggest stage is a great way to do that.
Last year’s Home Run Derby brought some stars to the event with Bryce Harper and Javier Baéz as part of the competition. However, while Kyle Schwarber, Alex Bregman, Rhys Hoskins, Max Muncy, Jesus Aguilar, and Freddie Freeman are all fine players, they don’t bring the name recognition that some others in the sport have.
What if J.D. Martinez or Aaron Judge or Manny Machado were in last year’s Home Run Derby? Though it’s unlikely, what if Mike Trout was involved? Could you imagine the viewership that Major League Baseball could capture if they had some of their biggest stars as part of the event?
Yes, Judge won the event during his rookie season in 2017, but a lot of these players tend to trend away from the Home Run Derby as their careers progress. Having a $1M payday for the winner is sure to bring some of the bigger names to the event.
Do you remember back in the late 1990s when Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, and Frank Thomas all competed in the Home Run Derby? Those were some of the biggest names in baseball and it was a treat to see those athletes showcase their talents on one of baseball’s biggest stages.
Which brings us back to Yasiel Puig. Is there a more marketable player on the Cincinnati Reds? I mean, the guy hasn’t taken a swing in a Reds’ uniform yet and the team already has a bobblehead night dedicated to him. Fans are expecting big things from the 28-year-old this season, and they should.
Puig has proven during his career to be a power bat you can plug into the lineup. In the hitter friendly confines of Great American Ball Park, Puig could eclipse 30-plus homers easily if he remains healthy.
Yasiel Puig provides the perfect type of personality for the Home Run Derby. Yes, he competed in in the event during 2014 but didn’t hit a single ball out of the park. No better time for redemption than this upcoming season with a new team, right?
Could you imagine the personalities on display at Progressive Field in Cleveland on July 8th if Puig, Bryce Harper, Javier Baéz, and Francisco Lindor competed in the event? That’s what Major League Baseball is looking for. They just might get it this year with the implementation of the new prize money for the winner.