Former Cincinnati Red Ken Griffey Jr. knows how to win the Home Run Derby. He won a record three derbies during his time in the major leagues.
His sweet swing made every homer — 630 in his career, 6th in MLB history — he hit look effortless, and according to a recent article by Cincinnati.com, Junior still believes he could compete.
"Could I win it?" Junior asked when questioned about the derby. The question was refined to, "Could you compete?" to which Junior answered with a chuckle, "Yeah."
The 45-year-old surefire future Hall of Famer won’t be competing, but he will throw out the first pitch prior to the Home Run Derby on Monday night. However, Junior says he still takes cuts during his job in the Seattle Mariners organization.
"I still have Little League kids who want to learn how to hit. I still have a 13-year-old who wants to hit," Junior said. "I still hit every year because I still work for the Mariners, all the kids want me to hit with them. So all the minor league kids, I hit with them. It’s easier to talk about hitting and do it that way than telling them about it. A lot of kids are visual learners. So what I do is I take their swing and I modify it. I don’t change what they do."
The lefty attributed his success in the Home Run Derby to his swing, which he could easily change and add a bit more loft to to hit the ball out of the ballpark.
"Instead of me hitting the ball on a line, I was able to hit a tad bit further on the upswing," he said.
Although the man who Junior says has more pop than anyone he’s ever seen, Giancarlo Stanton, is injured and won’t be able to participate, he believes someone will leave the ballpark at this year’s competition.
"Somebody’s going to hit it out of the ballpark, if there’s a left-handed hitter, they’re going to hit it out," Junior said. "Now this is more important than the game itself."
In case anyone was wondering what strategy the greatest Home Run Derby competitor of all-time used, Junior had a simple answer, "Just hit as many as possible."
When you watch highlights of "The Kid" from derbies past, it’s hard not to believe him.