Some buzz has been swirling around the idea of Madison Bumgarner, the San Francisco Giants pitcher, taking his bat next month to the 2016 All-Star Game in San Diego and participating in the home run derby. So, should Bumgarner be in the derby?
The answer is absolutely yes.
More from SF Giants News
- SF Giants: The closer of the present and future has arrived
- SF Giants: Brandon Belt hits IL with fractured thumb
- SF Giants: 2021 team is approaching franchise milestone
- SF Giants: Brandon Belt is a qualifying offer candidate
- SF Giants: Outfielder Ka’ai Tom signed to minors deal
Major League Baseball should invite Bumgarner, Bumgarner should accept, and the San Francisco Giants should encourage (or at least begrudgingly allow) their ace to participate in this year’s home run derby. Despite being a pitcher who only takes at-bats every fifth game, Bumgarner exhibits some of the most impressive raw power in baseball.
The home run derby is a gimmicky exhibition as it is, so it’s not like including Bumgarner would turn it into a clown show. If he doesn’t show well, nothing is lost. But if he hits some home runs, or advances in the contest, or even competes for the derby title, it will create tremendous buzz. Either way, including Bumgarner will give the home run derby a breath of fresh air.
The derby is tired, having lost its luster over the years due to its elongated process and truncated late-round drama. In a sport that’s grappling with its mass appeal and fighting the perception of being devoid of fun, throwing a pitcher into the mix could help counter that. It would definitely fuel interest in the event, at least for one derby, as people will tune in to see if the pitcher can keep up with the professional sluggers.
There’s little doubt that Bumgarner can. Despite not working on hitting the way a position hitter does, he has hit a home run roughly every 17 at-bats since 2014. As we wrote last week, his 11 home runs in his last 190 at-bats equaled that of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in each of their last 190 at-bats. His most recent bomb, on June 2, traveled 424 feet, according to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker.
As if Bumgarner’s legend isn’t big enough after his extraordinary 2014 World Series performance and saving baby rabbits from a rattlesnake’s belly, this would just add to it. And, related to baseball’s mass appeal issues mentioned earlier, MLB should seize opportunities to grow its players’ stature.
The argument against Bumgarner entering the derby has to do with the possibility of injury. Could he get injured? Sure, but he could get injured swinging in a game or wrangling his cattle herd in the offseason. Speaking of livestock, Bumgarner has scoffed at the notion of injury concerns, pointing out that the Giants allowed him to ride a horse in a full-capacity AT&T Park last season (when presenting the World Series flag prior to the home opener).
Perhaps some people are concerned that participating in the derby could mess up Bumgarner’s swing. It happened to Bobby Abreu, who won the 2005 derby with a record-setting 24 home runs, then hit just 6 home runs in the second half of the season after slamming 18 prior to the All-Star Break. But Bumgarner is a pitcher—any offense he produces is a bonus. So, if he develops an upper cut and his average drops from .160 to .120, it’s not exactly disrupting the offense.
Henry Schulman said on the MLB Network that the Giants are “getting a little tired of the story,” which reflects their take on the matter: they don’t want Bumgarner to do it. According to Schulman, Bochy said he would meet with General Manager Bobby Evans and other team executives to come up with an official team statement on the matter.
Bumgarner is saying that he isn’t lobbying to be in the derby, but he would do it if asked.
Let’s hope he is asked. And that the Giants don’t douse the fun.