(CBS Denver) — It’s officially the slowest sports day of the year. And while the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game have no bearing on the standings, both make for fun viewing in the absence of real games.
This week’s Baseball Report looks at the Home Run Derby results, Shohei Ohtani getting the All-Star nod as both starting pitcher and lead-off batter, and the top pick in the recent MLB Draft.
Home Run Derby Results
The Home Run Derby may just be the high point of the All-Star break. It certainly provides its fair share of highlights, with many of MLB’s best power hitters facing off in a tournament to determine baseball’s top slugger. New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso prevailed, defending his 2019 rookie-year title by topping Baltimore Orioles right fielder Trey Mancini, a recent cancer survivor who gave an inspiring performance.
Los Angeles Angels two-way phenomenon Shohei Ohtani, who leads the league in home runs with 33 so far this season, earned the top seed. But he couldn’t make it out of the first round, falling to Washington Nationals right fielder Juan Soto after two tiebreakers. Soto Alonso opened with 35 home runs, a first-round record. Mancini and Colorado Rockies shortstop Trevor Story also advanced.
Mancini knocked off Story, and Alonso knocked off Soto in the second round to set up the finals. The last round went to the wire, with Alonso edging out Mancini, 23-22. His win over the sentimental favorite makes him just the third player to win back-to-back titles.
Coming into the Derby, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge held the Statcast era distance record, thanks to a 2017 blast that sailed 513 feet. This year alone four different players beat or tied that mark in the first round. Soto is the new record holder, after a 520-foot shot that landed in the right field upper deck at Coors Field.
Ohtani To Start And Lead Off All-Star Game
While Ohtani was knocked out early in the Home Run Derby, he’ll have a chance to redeem himself Tuesday night. The first player ever to be voted in as both a pitcher and a hitter will have plenty of attention. The game’s lineups were recently announced, and he will start the game on the mound and leadoff when the American League bats. Ohtani will face Nationals ace Max Scherzer.
Typically, pitchers in the All-Star Game don’t throw more than an inning. Under the current rules, the American League would give up the DH spot if Ohtani pitches and then hits for himself. His removal from the mound would end his night. But thanks to a rule exception for a game that doesn’t affect the standings anyway, he’ll be allowed to stay in at DH. Ohtani is essentially being treated as two players.
In addition to leading the league in home runs, Ohtani is hitting .279, with 70 RBI. In 67 innings on the mound, he has a 3.49 ERA with 87 strikeouts, en route to a 4-1 record.
Here are the All-Star Game lineups:
Fernando Tatis Jr. – SS, San Diego Padres
Max Muncy – DH, Los Angeles Dodgers
Nolan Arenado – 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
Freddie Freeman – 1B, Atlanta Braves
Nick Castellanos – RF, Cincinnati Reds
Jesse Winker – LF, Cincinnati Reds
J.T. Realmuto – C, Philadelphia Phillies
Bryan Reynolds – CF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Adam Frazier – 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Shohei Ohtani – DH, Los Angeles Angels
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – 1B, Toronto Blue Jays
Xander Bogaerts – SS, Boston Red Sox
Aaron Judge – RF, New York Yankees
Rafael Devers – 3B, Boston Red Sox
Marcus Semien – 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
Salvador Perez – C, Kansas City Royals
Teoscar Hernández – LF, Toronto Blue Jays
Cedric Mullins – CF, Baltimore Orioles
Pirates Draft Catcher Henry Davis First
Aside from the All-Star festivities, MLB is using the break to hold its 2021 amateur draft, held in June in previous years. The first round happened Sunday night, followed by rounds 2-10 on Monday and rounds 11-20 on Tuesday. What used to be 40 rounds was cut to five rounds in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic. That number increases to 20 this year.
The first name off the board Sunday was University of Louisville catcher Henry Davis. The sophomore was a first-team All-American this past season, hitting .370 with 15 home runs, and 48 RBI in 50 games. He was seen as maybe college baseball’s best hitter. Davis was also a Buster Posey Award finalist. The award goes to college baseball’s top catcher. Shortstop Marcelo Mayer, out of Eastlake High School in California was seen to be the team’s other top choice. This Draft didn’t have a clear top pick going in.
Here are the top five selections:
1. Henry Davis, C, Louisville – Pittsburgh Pirates
2. Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt – Texas Rangers
3. Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall HS (OK) – Detroit Tigers
4. Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake HS (CA) – Boston Red Sox
5. Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State – Baltimore Orioles