Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby will take place Monday, July 8 in Cleveland with the winner taking home $1 million.
Eight players enter, and one leaves victorious. In compiling this list for a dream version of this year's Home Run Derby, we elected not to rely solely on this year's stats, but instead to put the purest eye-popping dinger machines into the best bracket imaginable.
Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees
Stanton has missed the bulk of this season, but the Home Run Derby needs arguably the best power bat in the majors. He crushed 11 of the 13 hardest-hit balls in 2018 and has swatted 97 homers over the last three campaigns combined. The Yankees slugger won the event in 2016 by hitting an incredible 61 homers over three rounds, including 20 in the final.
Aaron Judge, Yankees
It took Judge a few games to get loose after being activated from the IL, but he broke through against the Blue Jays on Tuesday for the sixth homer of his abbreviated season. Still, the 2017 champion is capable of so much more, as evidenced by a 495-foot bomb he crushed in 2017, which is tied for the fourth-longest homer in MLB since 2015.
Bryce Harper, Phillies
Harper has already ruled out defending his crown, but he's the logical end boss for anyone vying to unseat him. A return to the derby could also help inject a troubled first season in Philadelphia with a little fun. Harper will be missed because he makes the event a massive spectacle, which is precisely what the Home Run Derby needs.
Pete Alonso, Mets
As one of the few bright spots amid a tumultuous season in Queens, Alonso has already laid claim to the Mets' rookie home run record, eclipsing a mark set by Darryl Strawberry in 1983. The powerful freshman leads all first-year players with 27 home runs and is showing no signs of slowing down. The above dinger he swatted off Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha was the furthest hit by a Mets player at Citi Field in the Statcast era.
Joey Gallo, Rangers
When he makes contact, Gallo turns the ball into dust, as his average exit velocity of 97.7 mph leads the majors. And though he's been limited to 51 games this year thanks to an oblique injury, his 17 homers still pace the Rangers. Gallo was never asked to participate in the derby despite hitting 81 home runs across 2017 and '18, and he wasn't asked this year either, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. If Gallo's absent again, it should put the entire event's legitimacy into question.
Josh Bell, Pirates
Earlier this season, Bell became the first player to ever hit two homers out of PNC Park directly into the Allegheny River on the fly. He's not quite a household name, but showing off his long-ball prowess in Cleveland would help make a lasting impression.
Cody Bellinger, Dodgers
Bellinger doesn't have the average distance of his peers, but he's more than made up for it with sheer volume. Since his debut in 2017, he's cracked 89 homers, while Nolan Arenado is the only National League hitter with more. This would be Bellinger's second crack at derby glory, as he lost out in his rookie year to Judge, the eventual winner.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
The young Blue Jays phenom has reportedly agreed to take part in the proceedings, and while Guerrero's results have been uneven so far - with only seven home runs in 50 games - he's shown flashes of the form that earned him an 80-grade power rating as a prospect. Put him in a batting-practice scenario and he might tear down Progressive Field with one violent swing.
Dan Vogelbach, Mariners
Vogelbach had never gotten the opportunity to be a full-time player before 2019, and he's shown homer aficionados why that may have been short-sighted. The Mariners slugger has mashed 19 homers this season, but it shouldn't be that much of a surprise considering he always hit for big power in the minors. The final spot in the top eight was a coin flip between him and Vladdy, with Guerrero's hype and overall star power winning out.
Gary Sanchez, Yankees
"El Gary" only missed the cut because teammates Judge and Stanton filled the quota for the Yankees. But if the process was solely based on 2019 numbers, Sanchez would easily be included. His longest home run this season was a 481-foot rocket off Astros right-hander Brad Peacock, while his 412-foot blast off Mike Morin in May is tied with a Pete Alonso dinger for the highest exit velocity on a home run at 118.3 mph.
Shohei Ohtani, Angels
Recovery from Tommy John surgery has prevented Ohtani from pitching, but it hasn't stopped him from swinging a bat. He's the rare slugger who hits to all fields and owns a disciplined swing. He wasn't part of the contest in his debut season last year, but recently said he'd be honored to take part. We wouldn't be upset if that came to fruition.
Mike Trout, Angels/Christian Yelich, Brewers
We decided to focus on players whose power is largely their defining trait, which disqualifies (rightly or wrongly) Yelich and Trout, who are five-tool behemoths. Yes, Yelich leads the majors in long balls, but he'll get his due when he wins his second consecutive MVP Award at season's end. Trout was a tougher omission since he's never participated in the derby, and it would be fun to see if he could add another accomplishment to an ever-growing list.
(Videos courtesy: MLB.com)