Baseball – Stanton to defend, Judge hopes to rule Home Run Derby

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at New York Yankees

(Reuters) – Rookie slugger Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees has joined the All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby lineup, setting up a thundering showdown against defending champion Giancarlo Stanton on his home turf in Miami next Monday.

Judge, leading Major League Baseball with 27 home runs, ended the suspense about his participation in a video released by the Yankees on Twitter in which Judge and team mate Gary Sanchez said they would take part.

Judge was the American League’s top vote-getter in fan balloting for the All-Star Game and will start in right field.

Stanton, who before Judge arrived had already established a reputation for smashing majestic, tape-measure drives beyond outfield walls, has 21 roundtrippers this season and had already announced his participation.

The long-ball hitting contest, a highlight of the run-up to the All-Start Game on July 11 at Marlins Park, sets up like a heavyweight clash from boxing’s glory days with 6-foot-7 (2.01 metres) Judge going against 6-foot-6 (1.98m) Stanton.

Stanton has walloped a 504-foot home run this season, while Judge has reached 495 feet with his longest shot.

Also committing to the competition for the American League are Sanchez, a home run-hitting sensation at the end of last season with 20 homers in 53 games as a rookie, and Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sano.

Joining Stanton so far will be Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger, the National League leader with 24 home runs.

Last year, Stanton launched a record 61 home runs, including the 10 longest blasts, on the way to winning the Home Run Derby at San Diego’s Petco Park.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Ken Ferris)