Santana hoping to be Tribe's 1st to win Derby
Indians slugger will have home field advantage in Cleveland
CLEVELAND -- The hometown hero has become the underdog.
It was announced on Wednesday night that Indians first baseman Carlos Santana will go head-to-head with Pete Alonso of the Mets in the first round of the Home Run Derby on Monday at Progressive Field.
"I don't have any pressure,” Santana said. “I will try to enjoy it because it's a new experience for me."
Santana, representing the host city, is the No. 7 seed out of the eight Derby contestants, while Alonso is No. 2, behind top seed Matt Chapman, who replaced Christian Yelich due to an injury. In his rookie season, Alonso has hit 28 homers through his first 86 games. After a home run in Wednesday’s 4-0 win over the Royals, Santana has 19 in 84 contests.
"Especially with it being in Cleveland,” Santana said, when asked about his excitement for the competition. “The fans know me and I'll make what I can of the moment."
The 33-year-old Santana has averaged 400.1 feet per blast this season, according to Statcast, hitting three to left, seven to center and nine to right. The switch-hitter is undecided on if he will hit from the left or right side of the plate in the Derby
"We'll see. I haven't made a decision on that yet,” Santana said. “I want to see the weather first. How the ball is coming off the bat."
Santana will try to become the first Indians player to win the event. If he takes home the crown, he’d be the third player to do so at his home ballpark. If Santana beats Alonso in Round 1, he’d compete against either Josh Bell or Ronald Acuna Jr. On the other side of the bracket, Chapman will face Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Alex Bregman will battle Joc Pederson.
The Derby is the icing on the cake for Santana, who was voted to be the starting first baseman for the American League in the MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday. He’ll be the first member of the Tribe to start at first since Jim Thome in 1999. It will also mark Santana's first career All-Star appearance.
"All of those players have great power,” Santana said. “I'm excited for all the players."
It will surely be an emotional few days for Santana, who broke down in tears when he got the news that he’d be starting in the Midsummer Classic. But which event will he be most excited for?
“Both,” Santana said. “It’s an experience for me, my first Home Run Derby in the big leagues and my first All-Star Game. It’s great. I’m so happy for that. I don’t want to talk [about it] because I’m an emotional guy.”