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It Is Time Now To Demand That MLB Invite Shohei Ohtani To The Home Run Derby

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea (Getty)

Shohei Ohtani smoked another big home run Thursday, a sizzling shot to straightaway center against the puny Oakland Athletics. It was his 10th dinger of the season, and his seventh in the month of June, a period during which he’s also hit for the cycle and driven his slugging percentage up from .345 to a healthy .519. Here’s the blast:

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Did you know that Ohtani currently ranks seventh in all of baseball in average exit velocity? Despite working his way back into rhythm after having missed the first month of the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery? Ohtani is smashing the ball harder than Gary Sanchez and Bryce Harper and even Cody Bellinger. He ranked 15th in baseball last season, despite being a rookie and playing the last few months of the season all smashed up and mangled, nursing lingering injuries to various parts of his body. The UCL injury has robbed him of the opportunity to put up lunatic home run totals like those of Christian Yelich, Pete Alonso, and Edwin Encarnación, but power has absolutely nothing to do with it. Ohtani has awesome power. Look at this shit, from last year:

So long as Ohtani is not going to be doing any pitching this season, and so long as he is healthy enough to swing a bat, and so long as he has this ridiculous, titanic power, he might as well put it to good use in the damn Home Run Derby! Teammate Mike Trout, who has spent his entire career ducking the Home Run Derby, feels very confident that Ohtani would go out and win it, so long as Angels trainers got out of his way first:

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Carlos Santana of the Indians and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Blue Jays have already accepted invitations to the 2019 Home Run Derby, and like Ohtani neither of them are anywhere on the home run leaderboards. Young Vlad has just seven dingers; Santana has a more respectable 17. There are six spots left in the contest, and there is absolutely no good reason Ohtani can’t have one of them. The people demand it. What’s more, Ohtani himself says he’d like to do it:

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This week Ohtani threw off a mound for the first time since Tommy John surgery. While that is cool and all, I think you will join me in saying “big whoop” to that sort of update so long as the Home Run Derby is right there for the taking. Frankly, Ohtani should’ve done the Home Run Derby last season, based on his legendary batting practice sessions alone. This year he actually wants to do it. MLB, you absolute cowards, invite Ohtani to the Home Run Derby immediately.

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