By: Andrew Oak
The Home Run Derby has always been one of my favorite sporting events to watch. Yea, it has lost a lot of pop since the late 1990's and early 2000's, but the phrase 'Chicks love the long ball', still lives on. From epic performances from Sammy Sosa to Josh Hamilton to last year's Champion Yoenis Cespedes, the Home Run Derby always seems to be a crowd pleaser no matter how many Home Runs are hit out of the ballpark.
This year the field includes last years champ Cespedes (OAK), Brian Dozier (MIN), Joey Bautista (TOR), Josh Donaldson (OAK), Adam Jones (BAL). As far as the National League, they include Todd Frazier (CIN), Justin Morneau (COL), Troy Tulowitzki (COL), Giancarlo Stanton (MIA), and Yasiel Puig (LAD).
You don't have to over analyze the HRD, but a lot of lefties have won the HRD in recent years. Thats why my pick this year is Justin Morneau over Joey Bautista. He is the only lefty in the field and he returns home to his former team in the Twins. I think the story line is built pretty well for him and I think he'll benefit pretty well with not having a lot of pressure on him because the fans will make him feel comfortable for his service over the years for Minnesota.
As far as the game, it get interesting. After looking at the lineups, there is one clear favorite for hitting and pitching.
The AL Lineup looks better even with the aging Jeter atop the lineup. Trout and Cabrera are the best two players in the world right now and when you add players like Cano, Nelson Cruz and Joey Bats, that is almost an unstoppable lineup. The NL Lineup has young, emerging superstars like Goldschmidt, Puig, Tulowitzki and such, but having the depth of the AL lineup including HR Leader Jose Abreau, Cespedes, Kinsler and Beltre. That is going to be a tough lineup to pitch through.
However, when you have a pitching staff that includes Kershaw, Wainwright, Cueto, Greinke and Chapman. It almost looks impossible for any player to come through. Time and time again it seems to be one pitcher to falter during these games. When the AL pitching staff was announced, I just have a direct feeling that it is going to be an AL pitcher. Suspect the NL to come through this season. Winning 6-2.