The 2018 Home Run Derby will be without one of the game's most powerful and joyful hitters.
Jose Ramirez, whose 27 home runs are second in baseball behind J.D. Martinez's 28, will not be participating in this year's Derby after previously hinting that he might join the field. He was given permission to participate by his manager, Terry Francona, and the team brass, but ultimately chose not to do so.
Francona: Ramirez chose not to take part in the HR Derby. He had the team’s approval to participate if he wanted to do it.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 12, 2018
The Indians third baseman is on pace to shatter his previous career high in home runs from a year ago, when he finished with 29. As a team, Cleveland has hit 127 home runs, third most in all of baseball.
Jose Ramirez is NOT among this year's Home Run Derby participants, which is a shame. He was made for the spotlight and it would have been great for the entire world to enjoy his personality on the grand stage.— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) July 12, 2018
Ramirez isn't the only notable slugger not participating. Last year's champion, Aaron Judge, will not be taking part in the Derby, along with notables like Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Mookie Betts.
Fortunately there will still be plenty of participants worth watching. Of the eight competing, seven of them are in the Derby for the first time. Only Bryce Harper, who made the Home Run Derby finals in 2013, is a returning participant. Seven National Leaguers against one AL bat is strange, but we won't dwell on it too long when we're watching Jesús Aguilar sock dingers.
The bracket for the 2018 MLB Home Run Derby! pic.twitter.com/tai9MAU4yG— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 12, 2018
So even if most of the league's top hitters won't be slugging it in the Home Run Derby, there will still be plenty of reasons to watch.