Archive for Home Run Derby
The Homerun Derby is one of those things that sounds better than it actually is. It’s fun … for the first 15 minutes or so. It has a tendency to drag and drag, and after a while even homers get boring. I remember seeing Buster Olney suggest adding a points system — so many points for hitting it here, more for hitting it there, etc. — to spice things up and I liked the idea because at least it adds some strategy. I dunno.
As usual, there are eight participants in the Derby this year. I continue to hope Adam Dunn, who was put on this Earth to swing away in an event like this, will one day get to strut his stuff in the Homerun Derby. Here are the eight participants, though I have no idea who will hit when. The order remains a mystery:
Robinson Cano — captain
David Wright — captain
Lots of intrigue here. You’ve got the two hometown captains obviously, then you’ve got another local guy in the Washington Heights-raised Alvarez. Davis leads the world with 37 (!) homers, Fielder is a two-time Derby champ (2009 and 2012), Harper is the young phenom, and Cespedes is the international man of mystery. Cuddyer is … Cuddyer. Not exactly a typical Derby candidate, but apparently Wright chose him because the two are close friends. Fair enough, captains get to do that sort of thing.
My official pick — which is basically just a guess — to win is Harper. It’s not just about raw power, it’s also about endurance. He’s by far the youngest and I’m assuming fatigue will be less of a factor for him. Who really knows though? That’s the fun. The Derby starts at 8pm ET and can be seen on ESPN, as usual. Talk about that or anything else you want right here. Enjoy.
1. Last night, when the Royals took a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh off a Billy Butler no-doubter, I sarcastically tweeted that the game was over. Well, as it turns out, my cynical sentiments weren’t far from the truth. The Yankees are averaging a measly 3.89 runs per game and have now managed to score only one (!) run in each of the last three matches. This has resulted in a negative-six run differential, and according to their Pythagorean record, the team should officially be two games under .500 at this point. Collectively, the team has garnered a 83 wRC+ which is third worst in the majors. It’s painful to watch. It’s also really unfair to the pitching. You could march a rotation of Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, and Matt Harvey out there every night and it wouldn’t be enough to win if the team only scores a single run. Ugly, really ugly.
2. Call it selective memory, but I feel like Mike has claimed that each series is very important for the Yankees over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, I kind of agree. It’s beginning to feel as though each game is a “must win.” The team sits six games out of first place in the AL East, which is by no means insurmountable at this point in the season. It’s not that these games are weighted differently from other season games. It’s just that the team needs to capitalize on its opportunities – particularly against some of the weaker opponents, like the Royals, if they hope to make the playoffs despite a failing offense. Yesterday, James Shields looked as shaky as I’ve ever seen him early on. The team simply needs to do better if they hope to remain in contention. On the plus side, the Yankees are only a game or so back from the Rays and Orioles in the standings, so a Wild Card berth is still very plausible even if a division title is looking less likely. Also, the Yankees have a bunch of games against Texas, Tampa Bay, Boston and Baltimore remaining which helps (or hurts) their cause depending on how you look at it.
3. Doug Mittler wrote a quick blurb about Brian McCann on ESPN yesterday (Insider required). It noted how McCann will likely be one of the top free agents available in the offseason and could demand a contract comparable to Yadier Molina – that is to say, a five year, $75M agreement. I don’t know if the Yankees have the goods to acquire McCann from the Braves before the trade deadline, nor do I know if the Braves have any interest in trading him, let alone to the Yankees. I also don’t know if the Yankees would be interested in him in the offseason given some of his prior injuries (including his most recent shoulder surgery) and their pending austerity budget concerns. I’ll tell you what though, right about now he’d look awfully good in pinstripes. Then again, so would Russell Martin (but that’s another point for another day).
4. So it looks like Robinson Cano has finally locked in his roster for the Home Run Derby. To be honest, I generally don’t spend much time watching the All-Star break activities. I’ll generally watch the first couple innings of the game itself (along with the last inning if I can to see Mariano Rivera pitch), and occasionally I’ll watch the first round of the Derby. Still, I have to hand it to Cano for picking a really solid group. Fielder, Davis, and Cespedes can all hit the long ball with the best of them. It’ll also be nice not having the Kansas locals bitch and moan about Billy Butler getting snubbed this year. I have to assume Robbie will have his father pitch to him again. Hopefully he can knock a couple into the stands this go around. On the other hand, I don’t quite get David Wright’s decision to invite Michael Cuddyer even though they’re apparently good friends. I’m guessing Carlos Gonzalez and Bryce Harper will be shouldering most of the load for the National League squad. It should also be interesting to see how many home runs get swallowed up by the vast dimensions of CitiField.
For the second straight year, Robinson Cano will captain the AL Homerun Derby squad, MLB announced. He won the event back in 2011, as you surely remember. David Wright will do the honors for the NL. He was the runner-up to Ryan Howard back in 2006. The All-Star Game is in CitiField this year, so good job by MLB of picking the two New York guys.
Is the Homerun Derby getting stale? Yeah, it has been for years. It’s just too long, that’s all really. It’s not boring though. It’s still fun to watch, especially when you’ve got a horse in the race.
Robinson Cano, captain of the AL Squad, will defend his crown after walking off with last year’s Derby win against Adrian Gonzalez. He has a chance to become the first player since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998 and 1999 to repeat as champ. Robbie selected his three teammates — David Ortiz reportedly declined an invitation — and brought his father Jose to Kansas City to pitch to him again. Here are the participants in no particular order, I have no idea who is hitting when tonight…
Robinson Cano (20 HR) — captain
Mark Trumbo (22)
Prince Fielder (15)
Jose Bautista (27)
Matt Kemp (12 HR) — captain, just off the DL
Andrew McCutchen (18) — replaced the injured Giancarlo Stanton
Carlos Beltran (20)
Carlos Gonzalez (17)
As for my official prediction, I’m going with Cano to repeat. It’s not about raw power, it’s about endurance. Between the screen drill with Kevin Long and his daily batting practice sessions, I feel like Robbie could stand at home plate and hit dingers for hours in a setting like this. Either way, the Derby starts at 8pm ET and can be seen on ESPN. Feel free to talk about that or anything else you want right here. Have at it.
Thirty-two homers total, thirty over 400 feet. Final round record 12 homers. The laziest power display in baseball history. Robinson Cano, 2011 Home Run Derby Champion. Smile.
Also, mad props to Jose Cano. What a moment that must have been for him.
Is it home run or homerun? I’ve always preferred one word, but the official site and Wikipedia say I’m wrong. Oh well. Anyway, tonight is the night of the most simultaneously boring and entertaining event in baseball, the
Home Run Homerun Derby. The first two or three batters are fun, then it just starts to drag. MLB changed things up this year by appointing team captains (Prince Fielder and David Ortiz, the last two winners) and letting them pick the participants, though that didn’t do too much. I know he’s having an awful year, but it’s criminal that Adam Dunn still has not taken his hacks in the Derby yet. Mike Stanton’s another guy that should have been picked as well, just look at what the kid can do. His MLB.com highlight pages are pure homerun porn. Oh well.
The Yankees have one of their own in the Derby, second baseman Robinson Cano. Mark Teixeira was originally asked to participate, but he decided against it when he didn’t get selected for the game. Can’t say I blame him, I’d rather spend the time off with my family than fly out for the one event. Cano’s father Jose (a former big leaguer) will pitch to him, which would be pretty cool. Here are the participants, though I have no what order they’re hitting in…
StatCorner says Chase Field is basically a neutral homerun park for right-handed batters (102 HR pack factor) and very favorable for lefties (114), but you know what? I’m going against that and am picking Holliday. It’s not about how far you hit the ball but how many you hit out, and we’ve seen so many players tire in the later rounds over the last few years. Holliday’s so absurdly big and strong that I think he’ll hold up the best during the course of the competition. Plus having the experience from last year, when he hit just five homers, will probably help.
Anyway, that’s my pick. The Derby starts at 8pm ET and can be seen on ESPN and ESPN3.com. You can talk about that or whatever else your heart desires here in the open thread, so have at it. Anything goes.
Update: Here’s the order: Cano, Holliday, Gonzalez, Weeks, Bautista, Kemp, Ortiz, Fielder.
They don’t call them the Bronx Bombers for nothing, s0 I was somewhat surprised to see that just three Yankees have participated in the Home Run Derby a total of four times since the event started in 1985. Robinson Cano will make it four players and five appearances later tonight, when he takes his hacks at Chase Field in Arizona with seven others. It could have been Mark Teixeira, but he decided to spend the All-Star break at home with his family after not making the AL team. Oh well. Let’s go back in time and relive the four Derbies the Yankees graced with their presence…
Tino Martinez, 1997
I was pretty young and naive in 1997, so I thought Tino’s monster 44 homer campaign was a sign of great things of come. Of course that was his career season, and on only two other occasions did he top even 30 homers (1995 and 2001). Tino’s first half in 1997 was beastly, a .302/.370/.619 batting line with 28 homers (!!!) in 85 games. The Derby was a little different back then, it had ten players (not eight) taking their swings at the brand spanking new Jacobs Field in Cleveland.
Tino hit five homers in the first round, tied with Mark McGwire for the second most behind Larry Walker (nine). Martinez went deep eight times in the second round, again the second most behind Walker’s nine. Although the Colorado outfielder and eventual NL MVP out-homered the Yankees’ first baseman 19-16 over the course of the event, Tino’s timing was better. He hit three homers in the finals to Walker’s one, and that was that. The first Yankee to compete in the Derby had won it. Tino production dropped a bit in the second half, but he still hit a crazy good .289/.372/.525 with 16 homers in 73 games down the stretch.
Jason Giambi, 2002
The Giambino’s first year in pinstripes was insanely good; he hit .318/.430/.602 with 22 homers in 86 games heading into the break. The first round of the Derby in Miller Park wasn’t much of a problem, Giambi hit 11 homers. Only Sammy Sosa (12) had more. Back in those days, the four players that advanced to the second round faced off head-to-head, one seed vs. four, two vs. three. Giambi drew Paul Konerko as the two seed, then out-homered him seven to six in the second round. Sosa (five) beat Richie Sexson (four), so he and Giambi met in the finals even though Konerko had the second most homers in the round.
Sosa was no match in the finals. Giambi out-homered him 7-1 to win the event, and his 24 total homers were the second most all-time behind the 26 Sosa hit in 2000. Two Yankees in the Derby, two wins. Giambi’s production didn’t slip at all in the second half, he hit .309/.442/.593 with 19 homers in his final 69 games.
Jason Giambi, 2003
MLB invited Giambi to the Homerun Derby for the third straight year and why not? He was one of the game’s premier sluggers at the time. He had hit .267/.419/.547 with 26 homers in 91 first half games, so not that far off from his 2002 first half in the OBP and ISO departments. U.S. Cellular Field loves left-handed batters and Giambi took advantage, leading the way with a dozen first round homers. Garrett Anderson hit seven, and no one else topped four. Giambi drew Albert Pujols in the second round, though his eleven homers were not enough. Pujols hit 14 and advanced to the finals, losing to Anderson 9-8. Despite being bounced in the second round, Giambi’s 23 total homers were the second most in the event, three behind Pujols. His production dropped in the second half, down to .226/.401/.498 with 15 homers in 65 second half games.
Nick Swisher, 2010
Swisher wasn’t even supposed to participate in the event in the first place. He was a replacement for Cano, who had to withdraw due to a sore back. Swish didn’t make it out of the first round, hitting just four balls out of Angels Stadium. He was spared the embarrassment of hitting the fewest homers in the event by Chris Young (one) and Vernon Wells (two). David Ortiz eventually beat Hanley Ramirez in the finals. After hitting .298/.377/.524 with 15 homers in 84 games in the first half, Swisher dropped to .275/.336/.494 after the break, but he did hit 14 homers in 67 games.
* * *
Aside from the superhuman Giambi in 2002, everyone’s production declined in the second half, but they were hardly useless. I think it has more to do with those guys having outrageously good first halves and just coming back to Earth down the stretch. Cano is at .296/.342*/.521 with 15 homers through the team’s first 88 games, and it’s worth noting that he’s traditionally been a better hitter in the second half. That was not true last year, however. Either way, I’d love to see Cano win the thing, but I’ll take the field on this one.
* I was surprised to see his OBP that high, but then I realized that it’s inflated by a career-high nine hit-by-pitches. He got plunked eight times last year and eight times 2007. If we remove those HBP’s from his time-on-base and plate appearance totals, his OBP is just .326. I don’t want to think about what it would be if we removed the four intentional walks.
As the Home Run Derby — or the Josh Hamilton Show — got underway last night at Yankee Stadium, the sun set behind New Jersey, lighting up the sky. Click through the jump to see more sights from last night’s Derby. I took all the photos, and you can find them and more in this photo set on flickr.