Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Logan Morrison is having a fine season, perhaps even one worthy of representation in the MLB All-Star Game. He might have had a point when lamenting not getting chosen for the Home Run Derby, but it was lost when he called out New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez.
The Home Run Derby participants were announced on Monday night, with four players from each league slated for the July 10 power display. The American Leaguers are Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge — the major league leader in home runs — as well as Sanchez, Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano and Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.
Morrison is hitting .256/.366/.579 this season with 24 home runs, tied with Moustakas for third in the AL, behind only Judge and Houston Astros outfielder George Springer. Sano has 20 home runs.
On Tuesday, Morrison expressed disappointment by not getting selected for the Home Run Derby. But he seemed resigned to his fate.
"I'm not disappointed. It's par for the course,” Morrison said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “I play for the Rays. I get it.”
But where Morrison erred is when he called out Sanchez, who has 14 home runs this season.
"Gary shouldn't be there. Gary's a great player, but he shouldn't be in the Home Run Derby," Morrison said. "I remember when I had 14 home runs. That was a month and a half ago."
Let’s take a step back for a moment.
Morrison has already set a career high in home runs this season, at basically the halfway point. Morrison hit 23 home runs with the Marlins in 2011, but has otherwise never hit more than 17 in a season. From 2011-16, he averaged 14 home runs in 109 games per year, so for him to call out another player — especially a catcher — for having only 14 home runs, as if Morrison is some perennial power threat, is ludicrous.
First, Sanchez only has 13 home runs! He missed three weeks of in April with a strained biceps, which makes his 13-homer total all the more impressive.
That Sanchez is a Yankee surely helps his status and popularity. That is without question. But really, the only reason we all know about Sanchez IS BECAUSE HE HIT A BUNCH OF HOME RUNS.
Let’s remember last year, when Sanchez joined the Yankees on Aug. 3, and all he did was hit 20 home runs in 52 games.
From last year’s All-Star break to present, Sanchez has 34 home runs in 450 plate appearances. Morrison has 28 home runs in 416 PA.
Sanchez tied a major league record for reaching 20 career home runs faster than anybody. That mark has since been broken by Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger, who was invited to this year’s Home Run Derby.
That is who people want to see in the Derby, exciting players who challenge records and do extraordinary things. They don’t necessarily want to see a journeyman who is having hot three months. To fill the latter quota, Eric Thames of the Milwaukee Brewers, who has 23 home runs after spending three years playing in Korea, is a much better story than Morrison.
In fairness to Morrison, he backtracked a bit from his comments on Wednesday.
"That was not about Gary Sanchez whatsoever,'' Morrison told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. "That was about a flawed system.”
Sanchez, who again has more home runs than Morrison since last year’s All-Star Game, took the high road on Wednesday.
"It’s an honor to participate in the event,” Sanchez said, per Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. “It’s not my fault that he didn’t get selected."
Morrison still does have a chance to head to Miami. He is one of five players in the Final Vote, with fans selecting the 32nd and final roster spot for each league. Voting runs through Thursday at 4 p.m. ET, and MLB sent out a ballot update earlier Wednesday.
Ouch. Fifth place, out of five. Morrison isn’t doing so well in these popularity contests, it seems.