Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has been selected as one of eight MLB players to participate in the 2018 Home Run Derby contest. Freeman’s selection makes him the first Braves player to compete since Andruw Jones in 2005.
Freeman will be joined in the derby by Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy, Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber, Cubs second baseman Javier Baez and Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Rhys Hoskins.
Freeman will attempt to become the first Braves player to win the Home Run Derby since its inception in 1985.
With three games left before the All-Star break, Freeman has a .313 batting average with 16 home runs and a team-high 60 RBIs. Among the eight players competing, Freeman has the second-fewest home runs this season, ahead of Hoskins, who has 14.
Freeman told reporters Wednesday about deciding to compete in the derby for the first time in his career.
“They asked about a week ago while I was in St. Louis,” Freeman said. “My dad was there, and I kind of talked to him about it. It kind of went back and forth, because I’ve always heard the you-don’t-do-as-well-in-the-second-half deal and this and that, but I think that’s just all words. My dad said it would be kind of fun to watch, so that was my ultimate decision, when my dad said he’d like to see me in it.”
In each round, two batters square off and have four minutes to hit as many home runs as they can. A batter can earn 30 seconds of bonus time for two home runs that travel at least 440 feet. The hitter with the most home runs moves on to the next round of the single-elimination bracket.
Freeman, who is a seventh seed in the contest, is paired with Harper in the first round of the contest. With this year’s All-Star festivities happening at Nationals Park, Harper will have the fan advantage as well as the most familiarity with the park.
Freeman joked with reporters about already ribbing the divisional opponent Harper about their showdown on Monday.
“Yeah, I might have sent a text earlier today to him to kinda start the trash talking,” Freeman said. “It should be fun. I’m hoping the fans are too excited for him and he gets nervous and hits zero. We’ll see what happens.”
The eight players will compete in the derby at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 16. The derby will be televised on ESPN.