He may not be participating in the Home Run Derby himself, but Nationals outfielder Kyle Schwarber has one slugger in mind who he thinks stands a good chance of winning this year: Trey Mancini.
The Orioles’ first baseman accepted an invitation to compete in the annual event at Coors Field in Denver during All-Star week just a few months into his first season since being diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. Mancini missed the entire 2020 campaign to get through his treatments yet enters play Wednesday with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs, both of which lead Baltimore.
His production has caught the eye of Schwarber, who talked on the Starting 9 podcast about how impressed he was by the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Mancini when he saw him in person.
“I feel like people don’t realize how big he is,” Schwarber said. “This guy is a big man. His back is massive. Looking at this guy’s shoulders — we were playing Baltimore earlier this year and I’m like, ‘Jeez, this guy is massive.’ And he just rakes. Unbelievable, and really cool with all the stuff he’s been through, too, and how he’s came back to the field, props, kudos man. What a story.”
Schwarber, himself measuring in at 6 feet and 229 pounds, knows what it takes to go deep in the Derby. He made it to the final round of the event in 2018, when it was hosted at Nationals Park. Schwarber lost to Bryce Harper 19-18 in the championship after dispatching both Alex Bregman and Rhys Hoskins in the first two rounds.
In his first season with the Nationals, Schwarber has shaken off a slow start to hit 16 home runs in 18 games to set the franchise record for the most homers in a calendar month. Despite the power surge, Schwarber said Tuesday that he’d most likely decline an offer to participate citing the physical toll it took on his body last time.
This will be the first time Mancini has competed in the MLB Home Run Derby, but he has some experience. Mancini won the Big East Home Run Derby in 2012, when he played for Notre Dame. Even though it’s been nine years since he was on such a stage, count Schwarber among those who believe Mancini has what it takes to make some noise in a few weeks.