Major League Baseball’s lockout is unequivocally bad for the sport as a whole, but at least the transaction freeze gives non-MLB-related events an opportunity to capture fans’ attention. Delayed by nearly a full year and forced to change locations due to COVID complications, the 2021 Don’t Blink Home Run Derby in Paradise is set for December 18. You’re gonna love it, especially if you’re a Miami Marlins fan.
Marlins players starred in the previous edition, held on Montague Beach in The Bahamas on January 4, 2020. The derby champion? Lewis Brinson.
Recently non-tendered by the Fish, Brinson is returning to defend his crown. He’ll be joined by a bunch of familiar faces from his former organization: Jazz Chisholm Jr., Miguel Rojas, Steven Adderley, Andre Arthur and Ian Lewis.
Derby participants—all of them professional players—have been divided into two teams as drafted by the event’s co-founders, Lucius Fox and Todd Isaacs.
Here is the moment during the HR derby draft show when Jazz was selected as the #1 overall pick pic.twitter.com/5XycgMQJkX— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) December 3, 2021
Brinson is coming off arguably his best major league season (.226/.263/.376, 74 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR in 89 G) which included a “Brinsanity” hot streak that started shortly after the All-Star break. However, that was an extremely low bar to clear. He did not show enough sustainability with his plate approach to merit the pay raise he would’ve been owed as an arbitration-eligible player. The 27-year-old cleared waivers prior to the lockout and is now a free agent.
Chisholm is one of MLB’s burgeoning stars. Although beset by injuries and fielding inconsistencies after a fantastic month of April, he put together a good rookie campaign overall (.248/.303/.425, 98 wRC+, 1.6 fWAR in 124 G). As currently constructed, the Marlins would be counting on Jazz once again as their main second baseman for 2022. In the meantime, he’s got more than enough power to unseat Brinson for the title.
At just 18 years old, Ian Lewis is another derby veteran. Few position players in the Marlins farm system did more to improve their prospect stock in 2021 (.302/.354/.497, 122 wRC+ in 43 G in the Florida Complex League). Being a switch-hitter gives Lewis a unique advantage in this event—he can pull the ball to whichever side of the “field” has more favorable dimensions/environmental conditions (he batted righty last time).
Rojas, 32, will be the oldest hitter there. He’s been hitting for more power in recent years than he used to! But that isn’t a standout tool for him. Miggy Ro inked a contract extension with the Marlins after proving this season that he has a lot left in the tank (.265/.322/.392, 97 wRC+, 2.8 fWAR in 132 G).
Lesser-known teenagers than Lewis, Adderley (.160/.250/.200, 40 wRC+ in 9 G) and Arthur (.187/.374/.290, 106 wRC+ in 36 G) made their MiLB debuts in the 2021 Dominican Summer League.
Also worth a shoutout: Anfernee Seymour. He had two separate stints in the Marlins org from 2014-16 and 2018-19. Seymour spent this season in indy ball with the Kane County Cougars of the American Association.
Everybody I’ve mentioned above is Bahamian except for Brinson and Rojas.
The derby is taking place at Paradise Field, part of the Atlantis Paradise Bahamas resort. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. local time. For those of us stuck on the mainland, there’s expected to be a free livestream available on Facebook.
Don’t Blink Week in Paradise is much bigger than just this exhibition. There will be a celebrity softball game, youth baseball and softball clinic and golf tournament during the days leading up to the derby. Proceeds from the week will benefit Bahamian charities.
Which active Marlins player will have the highest home run total in the derby?
This poll is closed
Jazz Chisholm Jr.