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Who should take the last two spots in the Home Run Derby?

The lineup is already stacked with dinger monsters, so there’s opportunity to make things a little more interesting.

Kansas City Royals v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Later this afternoon, the final two participants of the 2019 Home Run Derby will be announced live on ESPN. The lineup is already stacked, so whoever is joining the fray won’t make or break the quality of the derby. We’re already going to see the reigning MVP and current home run leader Christian Yelich. We’ll see two exciting, young rookies in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Pete Alonso and they will be joined by grizzled sophomore Ronald Acuña Jr. Josh Bell will get an opportunity to showcase his breakout power. Last but not least, local representative Carlos Santana hopes to pull a Todd Frazier or Bryce Harper and win in front of his hometown crowd. It’s already a great collection of dinger sockers. I might actually watch this year.

There are plenty of deserving candidates for the final two spots. Cody Bellinger could face off against Christian Yelich in the finals, foreshadowing the MVP race. Gary Sánchez could show off his Coke Bottle power. Aaron Judge could murder baseballs dead. Franmil Reyes could show why he’s the Beef Lord of San Diego. Daniel Vogelbach could There isn’t a wrong answer for these final two participants, but with a fantastic display already assured, there’s opportunity to provide some intrigue.

These last two openings grant the opportunity for intrigue. If any of the names listed above, it will be one dinger monster hitting more dingers than the other dinger monsters. It’ll be fun to watch for the evening, but will you remember who wins two years from now? Do you remember who won in 2017? Can you even name one person who competed in 2017? Because I can’t.

But if either of these two names reign as top dinger monster, you’ll remember.

Yandy Díaz

Carlos Santana provides the Cleveland crowd with an opportunity to root for own of their own, but Yandy Díaz gives them another reminder of how lousy their offseason was. In parts of two seasons in Cleveland, Díaz only hit one home run. For someone who makes as much contact and hits the ball as hard as he does, it was pretty disappointing. Cleveland shipped him to Tampa Bay for Jake Bauers and Bauers has been exactly replacement level while Díaz has already hit 11 home runs in about as many plate appearances as he got in Cleveland.

Having a hitter with fewer home runs than Kevin Pillar would be an unconventional choice, but imagine Díaz hoisting the derby trophy over his head in front of a silent crowd. The camera cuts to Cleveland general manager Mike Chernoff just fuming in his suite. The Curb Your Enthusiasm theme plays, roll credits.

Zack Greinke

If a pitcher is going to compete in the Home Run Derby, it should be Madison Bumgarner, obviously. A close second though is Zack Greinke. Greinke strikes me as the sort of person who could have excelled at anything he put his mind to. It just so happened that wound up being pitching. He didn’t even necessarily want to be a pitcher according to this story from Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com.

Another story Jirschele likes to tell is the time he needed to inform former Royals pitcher Zack Greinke he was getting called up in May 2004. Jirschele called Greinke into his office, and the conversation went something like this:

Jirschele: “Zack, I’ve been told you’re going to do one more start down here and then they’re calling you up. Congratulations, kid. You’ve earned it. I’m happy for you.”

Greinke, after a very long pause: “I don’t know. Do you think if we asked them they would let me go back to Single-A and be a shortstop? I think I can be a pretty good shortstop.”

Jirschele, after an equally long pause: “What in the world are you talking about? Are you kidding me?”

Greinke: “I think I want to play shortstop. I was thinking I could start at Single-A and then, you know, work my way up.”

Jirschele: “Zack, this makes no sense. What are you talking about? They’re calling you to the big leagues. The big leagues! This is your dream. This is everyone’s dream.”

Greinke: “Oh, OK.”

And with that, Greinke got up from his chair and went back into the clubhouse. To this day, Jirschele doesn’t know if Greinke was serious or not.

“You just never knew with Zack,” Jirschele said.

It’s not so much that I want to watch Greinke in the Home Run Derby specifically, it’s that I want to see him compete in everything, so I can see if there’s anything he can’t do. Put him in the slam dunk competition at the NBA All-Star Game. Have him do the skills competition for the NHL. Enter him in a hot dog eating contest. If he has limits, we need to find them.