Some 100,000 online brackets were filled out for Monday night’s Home Run Derby, and if the questions here in the hours leading up to the event were any indication, some 99,994 had Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton winning.
Let’s leave one spot open for a close family member of the other six contestants, including the Royals’ Mike Moustakas.
“I don’t know, man,” he said, laughing. “I don’t pay attention to that.”
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Moustakas is tied for fifth in baseball and third in the American League with 25 home runs. That’s already his career high, and more than any Royals hitter has had before the All-Star break. He’s on pace for 47 home runs, which would clear Steve Balboni’s single-season franchise record of 36 sometime in August.
On Monday, Moustakas will have a friend from Miami throw to him. He was vague in who the guy is, but he apparently holds a reputation in local circles for a reliably straight four-seamer.
“My guy Mike,” he said. “He’s awesome. He’s got it dialed in for me. He’s a great dude, throws a good ball, so if anything bad happens it’s definitely my fault.”
Moustakas came up one home run short in the first round, losing 11-10 to Minnesota’s Miguel Sano.
Such a disproportionate amount of attention in the Home Run Derby is on the Yankees’ Judge and Marlins’ Stanton that Stanton was left momentarily speechless at what must have felt like the thousandth time he’d been asked about Judge.
“I don’t know what more I can say,” he said. “He’s built like me, it should be fun.”
But Moustakas is a pure power hitter, too, hitting professional baseball after setting a California high school record for home runs that still stands today.
He has a short, quick, simple and compact swing that could be a good fit for a ballpark that’s shorter to right field than left.
“Just swing for the fences, that’s the name of the game,” he said. “I’m not going to try to do any shift beaters, anything like that. Just hit a few homers and see what happens.”