Matt Olson will get some much deserved face time next week when the All-Star Game festivities roll around at Coors Field in Denver.
The A’s lone All-Star announced Tuesday afternoon that he will be taking part in the home run derby.
— Matt Olson (@mattolson21) July 6, 2021
Olson will be joining a field that also includes Shohei Ohtani, Pete Alonso, Trevor Story, Salvador Perez, Trey Mancini and two yet-to-be-filled spots.
The slugging first baseman leads the A’s with 20 dingers and is one of 12 MLB hitters with at least 20 homers this season. Despite his offensive and defensive exploits from the past few years he probably doesn’t have the star power that he should nationwide.
Olson is very marketable with his looks, humble personality and career accomplishments but deserves more exposure. The home run derby is a great platform, where all eight guys are up close on camera with no helmet, adding another layer of intimacy for casual fans. I guarantee tens of thousands of people will look at Olson in the derby and go — who is that guy?
“He didn’t need to ask [us permission] I think he knows how we feel about it,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters Tuesday. “Any time you can get a little more exposure, too, I think that’s good for our organization. He’s not the kind of guy who’s going to go up there and change things, change his swing just for this competition. He’s going to try and get the ball elevated. In Colorado all you got to do is kind of touch it on the barrel and it will go out.”
Olson went 4-for-12 with a dinger and three RBIs during the A’s three-game set at the Colorado Rockies earlier this year.
If Olson wins, he would propel the A’s into a tie with the Yankees as the only teams to have four wins in the home run derby.
Mark McGwire topped Ken Griffey Jr. in the 1992 home run derby in San Diego with a total of 12 dingers. For perspective, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a total of 91 (!) while winning finishing as a runner-up in 2019 as the format has changed throughout the years.
“The Home Run Derby, I don’t believe it was talked about that much at the time,” McGwire told MLB.com in 2016. “But I like the way it’s evolved. I think it’s become more exciting than the game itself.”
Check out this footage of Big Mac and all these classic players like Griffey, Cal Ripken Jr. and Kirby Puckett. That was a sick era of baseball in the early 90s. This would also be the only dinger derby that McGwire won in seven tries.
Former A’s outfielder Yoenis Cespedes also dominated the 2013 Home Run Derby with a 17-dinger first round before edging Bryce Harper 9-8 in the final. Cespedes owned New York and MLB for a night.
The next year he defended his crown in Minnesota with 28 total dingers while the next closest guy, Jose Bautista, only racked up 14.
Other A’s home run derby participants include Jose Canseco (1986, 1990), Ruben Sierra (1994), John Jaha (1999), Jason Giambi (2001), Josh Donaldson (2014) and Matt Chapman (2019).