Next Monday’s Home Run Derby will feature eight of MLB’s most exciting stars, but not everyone is thrilled about this year’s lineup.
It seems Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Logan Morrison is frustrated about not being invited to Miami to compete, and he took it out on New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, one of the Derby’s participants.
“Gary shouldn’t be there,” said Morrison, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “Gary’s a great player, but he shouldn’t be in the Home Run Derby.”
With 14 home runs, Sanchez has the lowest total of anyone in the field. While he has missed time this year, playing in only 52 games, his slugging percentage is still just seventh-best, ahead of only defending champion Giancarlo Stanton.
“I remember when I had 14 home runs,” Morrison continued. “That was a month and a half ago.”
While Sanchez is one of the game’s most prominent young players, it doesn’t take a sabermetrics expert to see that Morrison is having a superior power season. This has been the best campaign of the eight-year veteran’s career, featuring a career-high 24 home runs, 57 RBI and a .579 slugging percentage. He ranks in the top 10 in the American League in all three categories.
Still, there is logic behind snubbing Morrison. He plays in a small market, and prior to this season, he was primarily known as a journeyman hitter who had failed to deliver on high expectations after a strong minor league career. Sanchez, on the other hand, was the toast of the game last summer, when his breakneck pace helped him set numerous home run records (only to watch them be broken by Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger this year.)
“I’m not disappointed. It’s par for the course,” Morrison said. “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 [teammate] 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.”
In light of low television ratings over the past few years, MLB is trying to generate excitement around the Home Run Derby, which explains the Sanchez choice. Morrison’s Rays, meanwhile, lag far behind the rest of the league in average attendance.
But while Morrison won’t be at the Home Run Derby, there is one consolation: he’s still on the American League’s Final Vote ballot, consisting of five players vying for one last spot on the All-Star Game roster. Voting closes on Thursday.
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