Wanted: A spot in the HR Derby

ByJayson Stark ESPN logo
Wednesday, June 25, 2014

PHILADELPHIA -- Attention, Troy Tulowitzki and whomever else is responsible for picking the National League's representatives in next month's Home Run Derby: Giancarlo Stanton wants to make his Derby debut -- finally.

The Marlins slugger missed the 2012 Derby because of last-minute arthroscopic knee surgery, and he wasn't picked by last year's NL Derby captain, David Wright. But he wants to make it known to anyone who's interested: This year, he's ready to take his hacks.

"It would be fun," Stanton told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "I was unfortunate in 2012. I was, what, half a day from being in one? So it would be fun to get my second chance at it."

Stanton, 24, has long seemed like the perfect Derby contestant. He has hit 137 career homers in his first 565 games in the big leagues, the third most among all active players, behind only Ryan Howard (175) and Albert Pujols (141). He has a chance to join Pujols as the only active players with 150 homers before the age of 25. And he has hit five home runs this season that were estimated at 450 feet or longer by ESPN's Home Run Tracker. No one else has hit more than two.

Asked if he'd always felt the Derby was tailor-made for him, Stanton said: "Well, I've always watched it growing up. And I obviously know what I can do in batting practice. It would be so much fun to see how it would all pan out, to participate in it."

Although he lined a batting-practice home run Tuesday that sailed over the left-center field seats in Philadelphia and landed in Ashburn Alley, Stanton has never been a guy renowned for his batting practice shows -- because he normally tries to be more disciplined in his pregame work than your average slugger.

"That would get me out of my game mentality," he said. "So it would actually be something that would be a challenge for myself, to try to come out of that and just let it go."

Stanton's bigger concern at the moment, though, isn't necessarily making it into the Derby field. It's making it into the National League's All-Star lineup. In the most recent voting, Stanton dropped behind Milwaukee's Carlos Gomez for the third and final starting outfield spot, trailing Gomez by just over 239,000 votes.

"We've got to work on that," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "There's no way this guy shouldn't be starting in the All-Star Game."

Stanton came into Tuesday's game against the Phillies leading the National League in home runs (20), RBIs (58) and total bases (166). He ranked second in the league in Wins Above Replacement (4.5), slugging (.585), OPS (.983) and extra-base hits (39).

"Everyone has seen what this guy can do," Redmond said. "He's having a monster year. He definitely should be a starter in that game."

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