Major League Baseball‘s annual All-Star Game festivities began on Monday night with the 33rd edition of the Home Run Derby. Eight of the game’s best hitters took to national television at Washington D.C.’s National’s Park and handed out plenty of souvenirs to the bleacher seats with over 40,000 in attendance. Among this group of eight were two of the game’s premiere Latino players in Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez, and Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar. And while both men were eliminated after the first round, they showed the world why they belonged in this event.
Both players were named to the National League All-Star roster last week. Baez, 25, joins fellow Cubs teammates Willson Contreras, Jon Lester, and Kyle Schwarber in D.C. While Aguilar, 28, was accompanied by Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Josh Hader, and Jeremy Jeffress. Both men were ranked in the N.L.’s top-10 in home runs, runs batted in, and extra base hits among other categories.
The participation of these players was also significant for the history of both franchises. Baez -along with Schwarber- were the first Cubs players to take part in the derby since Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo did so in back in 2015 (both men were eliminated in the first round despite combining to hit 17 homers). Aguilar was the first Brewers player to participate since Rickie Weeks only managed to hit three home runs back in 2011. Both men were hoping to be the first Hispanic player to win the Home Run Derby since Giancarlo Stanton took home the trophy back in 2016.
Aguilar was the second man to take the batters box after Philadelphia Phillies utility man Rhys Hoskins. The Venezuelan was eliminated by Hoskins by the final score of 17-12, but his longest home run went 428 feet with an average distance of 406 feet. Baez’s first round opponent was Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Max Muncy. The native of Puerto Rico lost a shootout by the score of 17-16. His longest home run went 479 feet (the third player to go beyond 440 feet in the opening round) with an average distance of 422 feet.
In the end Baez and Aguilar combined for 28 home runs with a total average distance of 828 feet. These two fine athletes now turn their attention to Tuesday where they’ll be teammates against the American League All-Stars and hope to break the N.L.’s six-game losing streak to the A.L. Both leagues have a combined All-Star record of 43-43-2 with the National League last winning in 2012.
After the All-Star break, they will return to competing against one another. The Brewers trail the Cubs by 2 1/2 games in the National League’s Central Division in what should be another close playoff race between these two teams. Baez and Aguilar will also be contending for the National League’s Most Valuable Player award at season’s end. But for now, it’s nice to see these young men bring their talents together to entertain the masses.
It’ll be exciting to see what they do for an encore on Tuesday night.