As his prolific first half wound down last season, Bryce Harper said many times he did not want to hit in the Home Run Derby in Cincinnati.
He explained that did not want to compete without his father there to throw to him. He said he did not want to compete until he was in front of his home crowd. Nothing has changed for him since.
Tuesday afternoon, just before he was officially elected to his fourth All-Star Game at age 23, Harper said he will not compete this year, either.
“I’d like to wait until I came to D.C. and was able to do it,” Harper said Tuesday afternoon. “Hopefully I’ll have a good first half in a couple years.”
Nationals Park hosts the game in 2018, by which time Harper would be 25 years old. But later Tuesday evening, he suggested he may not even participate then.
“I don’t even know if I’m gonna do it next year or the next or any other time ever,” Harper said after Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Brewers. “I just don’t feel like doing it.”
Many qualified hitters choose not to participate in the competition because of the effect they believe it might have on their swings long-term, or because taking so many max-effort swings in a few hours’ time requires more and different energy exertion than an average day’s cage work or batting practice. Some would call it “draining.”
“I don’t know about draining. Definitely it’s a lot of swings and whatnot. Yeah, you could say draining – why not?,” Harper said. “But it’s just, I don’t know, I don’t want to go out there and swing and swing and swing, I guess.”
Harper called the derby “a fun event,” but said “I just don’t care for it.” Hitters who participate put in an extra day of work on their already shortened midseason break. Hitters who don’t get to sit in foul territory and watch for a few hours, relaxed and untaxed.
“I just don’t want to, plain and simple. I just don’t really wanna do it,” Harper said. “I just want to enjoy my time, sit on the side, and watch it a little bit. I enjoyed watching [Todd] Frazier win it last year, and I just don’t feel like doing it.”
No word on whether his fellow all-stars Wilson Ramos or Daniel Murphy may be interested. Ramos has some of the best pure power on the team, and has been known to hit balls that clear the seats and find the concourse in left field at Nationals Park during batting practice. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Yoenis Cespedes, and Wil Myers will likely be among the candidates to represent the NL in the competition.