SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 02: Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins is congratulated by John Buck after Stanton hit a solo home run against the San Francisco Giants in the tenth inning at AT&T Park on May 2, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The Marlins won the game 3-2 in ten innings. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The Miami Marlins have not had Home Run Derby participants often, but this season, their best candidate is going to get a chance to prove himself. Giancarlo Stanton has accepted an invitation to the Home Run Derby. National League Derby captain Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers made the selection, and it would seem like Stanton was a natural choice for the competition. The 22-year old may be the strongest player in baseball, and he has already made a number of waves with the home runs he has hit this season, including ones that break scoreboards.
For the Marlins, this is the fourth time one of their players will compete in the Home Run Derby. The other three times seem like pretty elementary choices given the team's history; the other three participants were Miguel Cabrera in 2006, Dan Uggla in 2008, and Hanley Ramirez in 2010. The highest any Marlin has placed in the Derby is runner-up, when Ramirez did it in 2010. That year, Ramirez hit a total of 26 home runs, but got doubled up in the final round by the winner, then-Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.
When you look at the selection of Giancarlo Stanton, it seems particularly apt for this competition. Obviously, we know Stanton is a premier home run hitter, but let's compare him to some of the other best power guys in the game in terms of what we expect them to do in the future. One way to do this is to compare the ZiPS-projected home run rates for the top power hitters in the National League. Who could stand up to Stanton and be a part of Matt Kemp's team this season?
Only the ageless home run hitting machine that is Jim Thome can compare in terms of power with Giancarlo Stanton, and that should not surprise anyone; among players with at least 500 PA since 2010, Thome's 29.4 percent HR/FB rate is the highest in baseball, followed next by Giancarlo Stanton's 23.5 percent. No other National Leaguer is particularly close, with only two players even within one percent of Stanton's projected power.
Looking at this above list, you have to figure a number of these names just would not make the team Kemp is building. Only two more names can be selected to his group of four, and you have to figure the selections are going to go star players from this season rather than mostly inconsequential names like Alfonso Soriano or the struggling Pedro Alvarez. Ryan Braun seems like a lock if he accepts; he has hit 20 home runs this year and has the quietest .311/.392/.596 (.411 wOBA) campaign that I have ever seen. After Braun, it is a toss-up between Bruce (17 home runs, .246/.319/.515), Gonzalez (17 home runs, .338/.395/.605), and Votto (14 home runs, .349/.474/.636). My gut says Gonzalez will get his first crack at the Derby this year.
But can any of these players even compete with the mammoth power of Stanton? It is unlikely. There may not be a stronger player in baseball, and with the pitchers throwing just batting practice lofters over to him, we could see a shower of 500-footers right before the All-Star Game. The only questions remaining are whether Stanton can beat the slew of competitive American Leaguers and whether he will get a chance to show off these skills as well the following day in the All-Star Game.