Moustakas in the Home Run Derby is a big deal for the Kansas City Royals

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 11: Mike Moustakas
SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 11: Mike Moustakas /
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We have no idea whether the #VoteMoose movement will get Mike Moustakas to the All-Star game, but he’ll represent the Kansas City Royals in the Home Run Derby at least.

The Home Run Derby is a silly, contrived, made-for-TV event that, directly or indirectly, caused much of America to flip their opinion about Chris Berman. It’s a nonsensical event—the league’s power hitters hitting batting-practice fastballs impossible distances, and something that seemed to alter Joc Pederson’s career path, truth be told—that has as much to do with actual baseball as a sunflower seed spitting distance contest.

But when you’re the Kansas City Royals and your franchise made it through the steroid era with Steve “Bye-Bye” Balboni’s 36-homer 1985 campaign still representing the team’s power-hitting pinnacle, you’ll take your good home run news where you can find it.

So I think that’s why it’s a bigger deal to Kansas City Royals fans that Mike Moustakas will represent the franchise in the home run derby. This is a franchise that hasn’t had a participant in this event since 1991.

1991!

My brother is 25 years old. Next week, for the first time in his life, a member of the Kansas City Royals will participate in the home run derby.

More context:

  • During that same time span, three individuals WON multiple Derby titles—Ken Griffey Jr., Prince Fielder and Yoenis Cespedes.
  • Two teams that didn’t exist in 1991 have had an individual win a Home Run Derby title—the Arizona Diamondbacks (Luis Gonzalez, 2001) and Miami Marlins (Giancarlo Stanton, 2016).
  • Three different AL Central teams have had a winner: Fielder (Detroit Tigers, 2012), Frank Thomas (Chicago White Sox, 1995) and Justin Mourneau (Minnesota Twins, 2008)
  • Five of the stadiums that hosted an All-Star game—and by extension, a Home Run Derby—since 1991 no longer host baseball games: Jack Murphy Stadium (San Diego, 1992), Three Rivers Stadium (Pittsburgh, 1994), Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia, 1996), Turner Field (Atlanta, 2000) and old Yankee Stadium (New York, 2008)
  • The Padres and Pirates have hosted two different All-Star weekends, in two different stadiums, since 1991.

So as much as I’d like to poo-poo the notion that Home Run Derby is a big deal, it is for Kansas City Royals fans. It represents a certain legitimacy to in the eyes of a certain kind of baseball viewer, and it’s that kind of super-casual fan—the kind that won’t remember 2014 or 2015 but remember Josh Hamilton launching a zillion bombs in 2008 (and ultimately losing) at old Yankee Stadium.

Next: Speaking of All-Star weekend

So I’ll pull for Moustakas to represent well in Miami. I hope he puts a sizable dent into Jeffrey Loria’s Carnival Funhouse creation beyond the centerfield fence. And I hope he doesn’t suffer a second-half swoon that occasionally befalls Derby contestants so he can come back and shatter Balboni’s single-season franchise mark.