Homerun Derby 2015 Breakdown:
Homerun Derby is always one of the more fun events of the summer calendar, but some would argue it has grown a little stale in years past, and that the format took too long (three hours is a long time to watch batting practice, admittedly). So this year will bring about some changes and a fresh-face on the venerable contest. Most importantly, there are a clock and players “seeded” against each other, NCAA Tournament style.
Because if there’s one thing we love in America, it’s brackets! Will your Mom now dominate the homerun derby office pool? Perhaps, as there is always some randomness involved in a one-and-done single-elimination format. But in the meantime, let’s see if we can have a little fun with a small (think “this one is just for fun tonight guys”) play on tonight’s festivities.
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Derby – Round-by-Round Breakdown:
Round One: Kris Bryant may be the talk of the town, but Albert Puljols has size and power to spare. I like him to eliminate the rook in round one with relative ease. Manny Machado vs. Joc Pederson is a fun first round matchup, but I’ll give the edge to the swing-from-the-heels rookie, Pederson. He seems born for a contest like this much like Zack Levine in the Dunk Contest.
In the bottom half of the bracket, I’ll take home-town Todd Frazier over Prince Fielder (though it’s cool to see Prince back in the event after several years away) and Josh Donaldson over Anthony Rizzo.
So now we move on to Round 2. I’ll take Pederson yet again. His average HR distance of 434 feet is pretty impressive and I expect Pujols to tire a bit, while Pederson looks like he could hack from his heels all day long. In the bottom half, give me Frazier riding the hometown applause to another win.
FINAL: Pederson vs. Frazier
I like Todd Frazier, and I love a good story. He’s the guy to root for. Coincidentally, I had business in New York last year right after the Derby and caught a Reds vs. Yankees game in the Bronx. We stayed in the same hotel as the entire Frazier family (except Todd, obviously). We shared a few cocktails and hung out for a few hours, and got to hear tales of Derby pitching pressure from his brother Charlie (who pitched to Todd last year in the Derby and might have, um, walked a few batters). Not sure what this really has to do with anything, other than it is a cool story. AND it is the first time I’ve gotten to talk to a guy who pitched in the Homerun Derby. He admitted he was a little nervous, but settled in quickly. I expect him to pitch better this year now that he has seen and felt the pressure before. I know, it seems odd to look at the pitcher, but with a clock this year, throwing strikes and hittable pitches is ever more valuable. Having a guy with some rapport with his batter and some poise in the moment will matter.
I’ll take the story and the hometown hero tonight. Pederson has much greater distance per homerun this season, and is a very good choice and value at 6:1, but I’ll take the sentimental favorite with the home crowd and a year of experience under his belt in this event. He’s been talking about participating in this thing for months and I think he comes through for the home crowd.