Sluggers Giancarlo Stanton, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Bautista are all part of the 2014 Home Run Derby.
American League captain Bautista selected Cespedes, Adam Jones and Brian Dozier, while National League captain Troy Tulowitzki chose Stanton, Yasiel Puig and Todd Frazier. All eight participants hit from the right side of the plate, which is likely a testament to Target Field’s pitcher-friendly dimensions in right and right-center field.
Each team will receive an addition fifth member Thursday.
Casual baseball fans who are used to the game’s most prolific sluggers in the Home Run Derby may be a bit confused to see that Frazier and Dozier are competing, but there is a reason these under-the-radar candidates are part of the field.
Let’s dig into a few more details on the sleepers of the event.
Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins
Dozier’s selection was no doubt influenced by the fact that the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game will take place in Minnesota. After all, these types of events are for the fans, so credit Bautista for the pick.
That Dozier is a second baseman who stands at less than 6’0" only makes this more of a Cinderella story.
Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com and Parker Hageman of Twins Daily offered Dozier’s response to the selection and a tidbit for his batting practice pitcher:
Brian Dozier said he's excited to take part in HR Derby. Said it was really cool of Jose Bautista to invite a hometown guy.— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) July 8, 2014
Dozier will become the sixth Minnesota Twin of all time to compete in the Home Run Derby, joining the likes of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter, Gary Gaetti and Tom Brunansky. Morneau famously won the event in old Yankee Stadium in 2008 in a contest that will always be remembered for Josh Hamilton’s power display in the early rounds.
Dozier has to be considered a candidate to win this thing because of his familiarity with the stadium. In fact, nine of his 16 home runs entering play Tuesday came at Target Field, and he has a particular affinity for driving the ball down the left field line.
He will be able to avoid the deep caverns in right-center field and stay in contention.
Dozier’s 16 home runs were tied for 12th in the American League entering play Tuesday, but his 31 homers since June 16 of last season are an impressive 15th in the majors.
If nothing else, he will have the home crowd behind him as he puts on a show.
Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds
Frazier was chosen for his first All-Star Game this year in addition to this honor, and his 17 home runs were good enough for fifth place in the National League entering Tuesday’s action.
Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports thinks Frazier just may take the whole thing:
Frazier will become the eighth different Cincinnati Red to compete in the event, joining Dave Parker (who won the first one in 1985), Eric Davis, Chris Sabo, Paul O'Neill, Ron Gant, Reggie Sanders and Ken Griffey Jr.
He certainly seemed pleased with his selection, via C. Trent Rosecrans of Cincinnati.com:
It's pretty cool. I'd like to thank Tulowitzki for even considering me. It's going to be a lot of fun, especially making the All-Star team, and now there's even more excitement the day before. Hopefully I don't put a goose egg up there, hopefully I can represent a little bit.
Perhaps adding to Frazier’s excitement is the fact that he will have his older brother as his batting practice pitcher.
Who is more likely to win the Home Run Derby?
Frazier may not win the Home Run Derby, but with him, it is more about the distance the homers travel than the actual frequency.
He averages 401 feet per home run and even drilled one an astounding 446 feet earlier in the year, via Matt Snyder of CBS Sports. What’s more, he once hit a home run when he lost control of the bat, and it appeared as if he simply threw his bat at the ball.
Sure, the fans will be thrilled by the player who hits the most homers, but the one who can hit the longest will certainly earn their support as well. No pressure Frazier.
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