2014 Home Run Derby Thread

2014 Home Run DerbyThe All-Star break is officially underway and tonight is the annual Home Run Derby. It’s an event that, like just about everything else in the history of the universe, is better enjoyed in person than on television. It can get a little slow and start to drag on at times, but hey, I love homers. This is fun.

If you haven’t heard, the Derby has a new format this year. There are five players per league and they each get seven outs per round, not ten. The top three homer totals in the first round in each league advance. The player with the most homers in each league gets a bye to the third round while the players with the second and third most meet head-to-head in the second round. The winner of the third round in each league meet in the finals, so it’ll be AL vs. NL. Kinda cool. Little more exciting that the old format, that’s for sure.

There are no Yankees in the Home Run Derby this year, which isn’t all that surprising. Mark Teixeira is pretty much only guy on the roster who belongs in the same sentence as the Home Run Derby but meh. Robinson Cano represented the Yankees every year from 2011-13. Here are the ten Home Run Derby participants. I don’t know the order in which they’ll swing, but we’ll find out soon enough.

American League
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (captain)
Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
Josh Donaldson, Athletics
Brian Dozier, Twins
Adam Jones, Orioles

National League
Todd Frazier, Reds
Justin Morneau, Rockies
Yasiel Puig, Dodgers
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (captain)

I thought it was kinda weird there are two Athletics and two Rockies in the Derby, but it turns out it’s not uncommon for two teammates to participate. It happened as recently as 2011 (David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez) and has happened a bunch of other times throughout history. My official prediction is Frazier over Jones. Don’t ask me why. It’s just a guess.

The Home Run Derby is scheduled to begin at 8pm ET and you can watch on ESPN. Talk about that or anything else right here. Enjoy.

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2013 Homerun Derby Open Thread

2013 Homerun DerbyThe 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:

American League
Robinson Canocaptain
Yoenis Cespedes
Chris Davis
Prince Fielder

National League
David Wright — captain
Pedro Alvarez
Michael Cuddyer
Bryce Harper

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.

Matt’s thoughts on a random Wednesday

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

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.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

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.

Robinson Cano named captain of AL Homerun Derby team (again)

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.

2012 Homerun Derby Open Thread

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…

American League
Robinson Cano  (20 HR) — captain
Mark Trumbo (22)
Prince Fielder (15)
Jose Bautista (27)

National League
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.

Open Thread: 2011 Home Run Derby

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…

American League
Jose Bautista
Robinson Cano
Adrian Gonzalez
David Ortiz

National League
Prince Fielder
Matt Holliday
Matt Kemp
Rickie Weeks

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.