Sunday, July 13, 2014

2014 HR Derby Teams

Stanton, who competed in 2012, is my favorite to win this year's event (RantSports)
With baseball's Home Run Derby scheduled to take place tomorrow night at Target Field in Minnesota, here's my preview of the two home run derby teams:

AL
Jose Bautista (captain)
An All-Star for he fifth straight year, Bautista's continued to add his to burgeoning home run total, which has been exceeded only by Miguel Cabrera since the start of the 2010 season. With 17 dingers on the year he's tied for seventh among major league outfielders tied with National Leaguers Justin Upton and Andrew McCutchen. It's too bad Bautista's teammate Edwin Encarnacion is injured, but Bautista's not a bad consolation prize.

Yoenis Cespedes
The defending champion is back to defend his title. Surprisingly the first-time All-Star is not having a noteworthy season power-wise, as his 14 home runs are bettered by two teammates (Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss--both with 20) and are tied for 13th among major league outfielders, fewer than Marlon Byrd, Michael Brantley and Marcell Ozuna and as many as Charlie Blackmon, Khris Davis, and Mike Morse, among others. Of course, I still wouldn't bet against Cespedes winning the thing again.

Josh Donaldson
This time last year, few people outside Oakland knew who Donaldson was. Now he's the starting third baseman for the American League in the All-Star Game and participating in the home run derby, well-deserving of both honors. His 20 home runs lead all third basemen and rank sixth in the American League.

Brian Dozier
Though his power has faded lately (only one long ball since June 14th), Dozier's 16 bombs are easily the most of any second baseman, as no one else has more than 13 at the keystone this year. Almost at his career high of 18, he has twice as many as any other Twin--eight more than Josh Willingham--and while he was passed over for the All-Star Game at least he'll get the opportunity to put on a show for his hometown fans.  With more home runs at Target Field (9) than any other Twin has hit all season, he's been Minnesota's best power source and most worthy representative for the event.

Adam Jones
Coming off back-to-back 30 homer seasons, Jones has continued to provide plenty of pop for the Baltimore Orioles, a club with more home runs than every team except the Toronto Blue Jays.  Jones, with his 16 home runs--tenth among big league outfielders--has been a big part of that, especially given the disappointing performances of Chris Davis and JJ Hardy and season-ending injury to Matt Wieters.

Notable exceptions: Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Miguel Cabrera

NL
Troy Tulowitzki (captain)
The Senior Circuit's leading All-Star vote-getter is also its home run leader with 21 and slugging percentage leader at .613. Of course, Coors Field has played a large role in that production, with two-thirds of his home runs coming at home, where his slugging percentage has been almost 300 points higher than it's been on the road. Still, that doesn't diminish the terrific season he's been having so far, one that's made him an early favorite to take home his first MVP award.

Todd Frazier
After going yard 19 times in each of the past two seasons, Frazier's already done so 18 times in 2014, tops among National League third basemen. The first-time All-Star has more home runs than any third baseman besides Josh Donaldson, who's also competing in the derby but on the American League side, and more than any of his Reds teammates as well.

Justin Morneau
Though Morneau fell short in the NL Final Vote to Anthony Rizzo after taking an early lead in the polls, he still gets to make a return to Minnesota as one of the five members of the NL home run squad. Morneau isn't the most deserving selection, as his 13 home runs have been exceeded by 16 first basemen (including Mark Reynolds, Ryan Howard, and Lucas Duda) but he's a sentimental one. And if he can't go back to the Twin cities as an All-Star, I'm fine having him there on the derby team. That said, if given the choice I'd much rather see a Pedro Alvarez or Paul Goldschmidt in his stead.

Yasiel Puig
Puig's 12 home runs don't jump off the page, but the way he hits them sure does. Power is only a part of Puig's all-around game, but few hit balls farther or with more flair than he does.
And seeing as how the first-time All-Star is only 23, I'm sure this will be just the first of many derby appearances for the National League's answer to Mike Trout. Even if he doesn't do much tomorrow night, I'm still stoked to see him in his first All-Star Game on Tuesday.

Giancarlo Stanton
The Senior Circuit's home run and RBI leader was made for an event like this. Finally healthy after two injury-plagued seasons, Stanton's slugging his way to a potential 40-homer season and just earned his second All-Star nod in three years. One of the rare players who can hit the ball out of any stadium, Stanton shouldn't have much trouble clearing the fences at Target Field. He's my prediction to win.

Notable exceptions: Rizzo, McCutchen, Upton

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