The 2016 Home Run Derby takes place tonight in Petco Park in San Diego, and many baseballs will be hit to places in that stadium once considered unreachable. Many of them will be propelled by the bats of Giancarlo Stanton and Robinson Cano, two of the most dangerous and powerful batters in Major League Baseball. Stanton has some of the longest home runs on record this season, including this 463-foot rocket launch against Mets ace Jacob DeGrom. Cano’s strength isn’t too shabby either. He drove this 435-footer, his 21st of the season, against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon.
With Cano and Stanton readying themselves to be crowned Home Run Champ tonight, here’s a look at some of the workouts that have turned them into two of the most feared power hitters in the game today.
The Miami Marlins star can hit baseballs into orbit like celestial objects, but Giancarlo Stanton’s strength comes from his willingness to put in hours behind the scenes performing a myriad of exercises.
“I thought, growing up, that they just show up at 6:00 and the game is at 7:00,” Stanton told the MLB Network in 2015. “But you’ve got pre-game, early work, you’ve got to get your body ready for that.”
Ever since he arrived in Miami in 2010, Stanton has treated his body like a temple. He posed in ESPN’s “The Body Issue” in 2013, stating that Push-Ups and Pull-Ups were his “go-to” moves and that he performs 100 of each every single day.
Much of Stanton’s power is generated by his legs and hips, which he strengthens by running up sand hills wearing a weighted vest in his home state of California. That is resistance running taken to the extreme; and Stanton works on changing directions and swinging his hips while he does it—to mimic his movements both in the outfield and at the plate.
Having dealt with hamstring injuries throughout his career, Stanton is also a big proponent of yoga, performing moves like Hero and Pigeon to keep his hamstrings loose and help his body recover on an off day.
Sometimes, though, Stanton just lifts weights while wearing a Chewbacca mask. Who can object to that?
Robinson Cano, the superstar bat in the middle of the Seattle Mariners lineup, puts in his work thousands of miles away from the Great Northwest, many times before the sun rises. Each off-season, he returns to the Domican Republic, the place of his birth, and works through a brutal schedule.
At 5:30 a.m., he’s at the track doing spring work. By 8:30 he’s at the gym lifting. When that wraps up around 10, he heads to the field to work on his mechanics. By 1 p.m., the kid they call Robby has already put in a full eight hours of training. He even invites teammates to come and train with him during the off-season, a tradition he started back when he was a member of the New York Yankees.
When he isn’t working out, Cano is focused on his bat. He was brought up in the Majors subscribing to the gospel of Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, who introduced him to the “Net Drill.” Cano stands a bat’s length away from a net that has been placed over home plate, and he must keep his swing short and tight to drive the ball to right field. It’s a drill he brought with him to the Mariners.
Cano has also been known to get creative with his hitting drills, like the time he attempted to hit tiny black beans with a broomstick while he was recovering from root canal surgery in 2014.
“You have to always keep your eye on the beans because they’re little, too,” Cano said at the time. “You have to follow it all the way. That’s what you want in the game. You have to follow it all the way.”
Whatever techniques Cano is using in the gym and on the field, they appear to be working.