MLB Home Run Derby Primer: Plotting 2018 homers on Nationals Park

By the conclusion of the 2017 Home Run Derby, a total of 194 homers had traveled a combined 15.7 miles. Aaron Judge had solidified his status as an elite power bat, hitting 47 of those homers, including four that travelled at least 500 feet.

The 2018 edition is offering just as much raw power, just not all that much star power. Sure, Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman will be there, but none of the eight contestants rank among the top 40 active MLB players in homers. They’re all 28 or younger and two were discarded for nothing before developing into elite sluggers in 2018.

For anyone looking to relive last year’s derby, this cool Baseball Savant graphic is a good start.

And for those more inclined to look ahead at the 2018 event, here’s a guide to the eight contestants…

Jesus Aguilar
Age: 28
Bats: Right
Acquired: Waiver claim from Cleveland, February 2017
Career home runs: 40
2018 home run total: 24
Longest 2018 home run: 433 feet
The Brewers placed a claim on Aguilar before the 2017 season, when he was an out-of-options minor-league slugger with no clear path to playing time with Cleveland. A year and a half later, he’s one of the best power bats in the NL.

Below: Aguilar’s 2018 home runs superimposed onto Nationals Park, site of the 2018 derby…

Rhys Hoskins
Age: 25
Bats: Right
Acquired: Phillies’ 5th round draft pick, 2014
Career home runs: 32
2018 home run total: 14
Longest 2018 home run: 431 feet
Hoskins hasn’t quite replicated his 2017 breakout, but he has certainly solidified himself as a legitimate power bat on a contending Phillies team.

Alex Bregman
Age: 24
Bats: Right
Acquired: Astros’ 1st round draft pick (2nd overall), 2015
Career home runs: 46
2018 home run total: 19
Longest 2018 home run: 420 feet
Bregman has more power than you might think. Though the 6’0″, 180-Lb. third baseman finished last season with just 19 homers. He has 30 in the last calendar year.

Kyle Schwarber
Age: 25
Bats: Left
Acquired: Cubs’ 1st round draft pick (4th overall), 2014
Career home runs: 63
2018 home run total: 17
Longest 2018 home run: 439 feet
Every one of Schwarber’s 2018 home runs has come against right-handed pitching. His struggles against lefties are potentially problematic for the Cubs, but they’re a non-issue in the derby, when he’ll be sure to have a right-hander pitching.

Bryce Harper
Age: 25
Bats: Left
Acquired: Nationals’ 1st round draft pick (1st overall), 2010
Career home runs: 173
2018 home run total: 23
Longest 2018 home run: 473 feet
Harper’s production might be disappointing relative to the outsized expectations he faces (how many players can post an .840 OPS in a ‘down’ year?), but he has the longest 2018 homer of anyone competing and it’s not even close.

Freddie Freeman
Age: 28
Bats: Left
Acquired: Braves’ 2nd round draft pick, 2007
Career home runs: 182
2018 home run total: 16
Longest 2018 home run: 426 feet
Freeman’s more of a complete hitter than a boom-or-bust power bat, but he has more career homers than anyone else in the derby.

Max Muncy
Age: 27
Bats: Left
Acquired: Minor-league signing, April 2017
Career home runs: 26
2018 home run total: 21
Longest 2018 home run: 450 feet
The Athletics released Muncy before opening day 2017, and the Dodgers added him on a minor-league deal a month later. Now that pickup is looking more impactful than most major free agent deals. Muncy has 21 homers and a 1.019 OPS with contributions at four defensive positions.

Javier Baez
Age: 25
Bats: Right
Acquired: Cubs’ 1st round draft pick (ninth overall), 2011
Career home runs: 65
2018 home run total: 18
Longest 2018 home run: 434 feet
With 18 home runs already, Baez is well on his way to eclipsing his career-high of 23 set last year.

All graphics via Baseball Savant

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