SEATTLE — Well, Mike Moustakas is headed to Miami no matter what.
Moustakas, the Royals’ third baseman, will be the club’s first participant in the Home Run Derby in 26 years. He will compete next Monday at Marlins Park in Miami, the Royals confirmed.
When Moustakas takes his swings in the competition, which is part of the All-Star Game festivities, he will do so as a Royals record holder.
In the second inning of the Royals’ game Monday night in Seattle, Moustakas clubbed his 23rd home run of the season — a 396-foot laser beam down the right-field line. No player in Royals history had ever hit more than 22 homers before the All-Star break.
Moustakas, 28, is on pace to shatter the Royals’ franchise record of 36 homers in a season, set by Steve Balboni in 1985. The 23rd home run is a career record for Moustakas, who moved into a tie for fourth-most in the American League this season.
That’s why he was a prime candidate for The Home Run Derby, which features an eight-man field. Joining Moustakas will be the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, the Twins’ Miguel Sano and the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon.
The full field and Moustakas’ inclusion was first reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney.
The last Royals player to compete in the Home Run Derby was Danny Tartabull in 1991. Tartabull hit two homers in the first round and did not advance.
Bo Jackson competed in the Home Run Derby in 1989. Jackson hit just one in the competition, but famously opened the bottom of the first inning of the All-Star Game with a home run to center field and later was voted the Most Valuable Player of the game.
Moustakas’ spot in the All-Star Game is a possibility, but not a sure thing. He is one of five finalists in the Final Vote contest in the American League. He is competing against Tampa Bay’s Logan Morrison, New York’s Didi Gregorius, Boston’s Xander Bogaerts and Texas’ Elvis Andrus.
At the very least, Moustakas will be cheered on at the Home Run Derby by a pair of teammates: catcher Salvador Perez and left-hander Jason Vargas have already been chosen to the American League All-Star team.