Imagine a scenario, if you will.
You are a veteran MLB first baseman, with a previously huge social media presence. you’ve been a starter for three franchises since 2010, and the All-Star Game is about to be hosted by the team that drafted and developed you.
You’re having a career year at the plate, ranked third in the American League in home runs (24), the highest among all first basemen. And for those who care, you have the highest WAR too (2.9).
As far as the American League is concerned, you look like a lock for the summer spectacle that is the All-Star break, possibly in both the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby.
Rosters are selected, and lo and behold, you’ve been put out to the masses as a “Final Vote” candidate alongside players from big market teams.
No matter, surely the Home Run Derby will come calling, right?
They pick two rookies from the Yankees, one of whom missed an entire month this season and, consequently, has 60% of your home run tally in 2017.
A beat writer would like your opinion on the matter. Are you upset? Or are you thrilled for someone you might have rarely heard about or thought of in your career thus far?
This is the situation Logan Morrison found himself in this week, and where he gave some tough comments to the beat writers when asked how he felt being snubbed:
"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."
Sanchez is on the AL All-Star team as the backup catcher, voted in by the players. Morrison was not elected or selected to the All-Star squad but is on the five-man ballot for the final spot, with voting continuing via mlb.com through Thursday.
These quotes bandy about Gary Sanchez the player because the facts are attached to his name. But this has nothing to do with Gary Sanchez the person.
In fact, the young catcher said so himself:
Sanchez on LoMo Derby snip: "They gave me an invitation. That's something I have no control over. It's not my fault he didn't get selected"— David Lennon (@DPLennon) July 5, 2017
And there’s no double Sanchez might even put on a good show. His batting practice is renowned, and becoming famous on the most popular team in baseball, and it’s that element of team popularity that is clearly steering the choice of Sanchez.
Morrison isn't exactly wrong here: [...] despite those career-best 24 home runs, most MLB fans wouldn't be able to pick him out of a police lineup. But that's why Sanchez will be in the Home Run Derby and Morrison won't: MLB wants to showcase its brightest young stars, and that's what Gary Sanchez is.
It is a little odd that two Yankees got the call for the Derby, but it's not as if Sanchez is a terrible choice. He does have only 13 homers, but that's due in large part to having missed nearly a month of the season with a biceps strain. Plus, he was a homer-hitting machine in his rookie season last year, bashing 20 in 53 games. Sanchez doesn't get any cheap, Yankee Stadium-aided shots, either: His average true home-run distance of 420.9 feet is second-best in baseball (minimum nine homers), trailing only the Blue Jays' Kendrys Morales.
Sanchez is a justifiable selection for the event, which is what makes Morrison’s sound bite sound more petty than sincere. LoMo’s cup of wrath is not for Sanchez, though, it’s for the system that rewards the team you play for over the objectivity of performance.
Here’s how the process supposedly works:
The decision process, determined in consultation with the players union, includes factors beyond current home run totals such as popularity, All-Star status, being a member of the host team and performance in previous seasons.
What will it take for the Rays to sit at the cool kids table, huh?