Don't go Chasing Waterfalls
Did you know that the only two days of the year where there is no professional sport being played is the day before and the day after the MLB All-Star game. That being said, the day before is the day of the Home Run Derby and even though it has no bearing on the outcome of the season, it is still one of the most exciting days of the season. Over the years, this contest has given us some great memories and with each new derby comes the chance of a new moment that will last time time. The eight contestants all bring something different to the table and have the ability to win and create a memory for the fans and that is why, even though some people say it is boring, people will still tune in and watch.
Set a drift on Memory Bliss
Each year the derby gives us great moments and great memories, and over the years these moments stick in your mind and each year we hope for a moment like that to happen. Some memories come from the distance of the home run, some come from htiting a landmark at the stadium( KC has a waterfall to shoot for in the outfield this year), and some come from the sheer amount of home runs hit. For me, it was pretty simple to recall my top five HRD moments( apoligies to Bobby Abreau and his extra boost of steroids in 2005) and I honestly do not know if anyone in any future derby can top this.
In 1993, Baltimore hosted the HRD. This is far and away the top moment of any derby as Ken Griffey Jr. hit the B&O warehouse. That warehouse has never been hit again and for every person that saw that on tv or was lucky enough to see it in person, it will never be forgotten.
Griffey had some other memorable HRD's, but none as memorable as some of his peers. Josh Hamilton put on a show of power mixed with a little redemption in 2008 by hitting 28 home runs in the first round at Yankee Stadium including 3 over 500 feet. That performance shows that you do not have to win the derby to have a memorable performance.( bonus trivia, Justin Morneau won that derby)
Mark Mcgwire is part of 2 of the most memorable HRD's I have ever seen. The performance he put on in 1996 when he went head to head vs. Bonds was unreal. One out away from defeat, Bonds hit 3 moonshot blasts to win the derby. In defeat, Mcgwire did hit 3 of the furthest home runs I have ever seen hit in that stadium, and at the end of the day, the derby gets great the longer the home run is. Then, in 1999, he put on a show in the first round of the derby at Fenway that will never be forgotten. He hit a ball so far it may still be in flight. Just like previous derbies, the most memorable moment came from someone who did not win the actual derby( Griffey won).
1991 was a great year for Cal Ripken and when he showed up in Toronto for all-star weekend he was determined to show the world that his career was not done and he was still the best shortstop in the game. Not tradionally known for his home runs, Cal went through a 12 home run in 21 swing stretch that propelled him to not only the Derby Championship but then a MVP award the next year.
Nothing Compares 2 U
Their are eight players in this year's competition, four from both leagues, but realistically I only see three of them having the ability to win. Kauffman stadium has a very short right field porch measuring 330 feet, so it favors the left-handed batters.
The National League is represented by Matt Kemp, Carols Gonzalez, Carlos Beltran, and Andrew McCutchen. Unfortunetly for them, I do not see a way any of these contestants have a chance to win. McCutchen is filling in for G. Stanton and he is not a home run hitter. He does not have the home-run swing or the endurance to last in the derby. Beltran does already have 20 bombs this year and he will have the crown on his side, but being a switch hitter, not having that pure home-run swing, and never have competed in this competition before and knowing how to pace yourself and your swing, will hinder him and keep him from winning. Gonzalez is one of the best all-around hitters in the game today but he is not a pure homerun hitter and his swing is not built to win the derby. Matt Kemp is a stud, and any other year I would say he has a chance, but with his injury problems he has no legit shot to compete this year.
My Name Is
The American League is represented by Mark Trumbo, Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano, and Prince Fielder. Realistically, all 4 of these players have a shot of winning, and I feel the HRD champion will come from the AL this year.
Do not let Mike Trout's breakout year take you away from noticing the stud that is Mark Trumbo. He currently has 21 homerun's and even though right handers hit fewer hr's at Kauffman Stadium, he has the power, the swing, and the endurance to compete and win. Bautista is also right handed, but like Trumbo, has a great chance to win. There is no doubt that he has the power to win, but he needs to stay focused and keep his swing on track to have any shot( unlike last year where he put on one of the worst performances in derby history.)
Robinson Cano and Prince Fielder are the final two participants from the AL. They are 2 of the top players in the game, both have run a derby before, and both have the home run swing that can hold up after 50 or so swings. Their experience and power mixed with the 330 foot wall in RF, makes them the two favorites to win this year
Are you gunna go my way
Robinson Cano has the best swing in baseball and he will be an all-star for the next 10 years. He will probably win another one or two derbies along the way. That being said, I feel this year the derby belongs to Fielder. He has the experience, the durable swing, the crowd behind him, and probably most important, the will to want to win it. I am not sure if he can put on a performance to top Mcgwire or Hamilton or any of the other players, but I know I will be tuned in to see.