The MLB All-Star Weekend is one of the best traditions in all of sports, but the biggest highlight of the events is the 2014 Home Run Derby.
With top stars like Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, Adam Jones, Giancarlo Stanton and others all involved in the event, baseball fans will be treated to some of the biggest hitters in the league smashing the ball.
Both the American and National league Home Run Derby rosters will add one final player Thursday.
Here are the 2014 contestants, the updated format and the pick for the annual event.
|Home Run Derby Roster|
|American League||National League|
|Jose Bautista *||Troy Tulowitzki *|
|Yoenis Cespedes||Todd Frazier|
|Brian Dozier||Yasiel Puig|
|Adam Jones||Giancarlo Stanton|
|Source: MLB.com. *Denotes team captain.|
Breaking Down the New Format
The 2014 edition of the Home Run Derby has a new format. Baseball is full of traditionalists who hate change, but the upgrades to this event should make it even more exciting.
Round 1 features five players from both leagues, and instead of the traditional 10 outs per batter, each man will now receive seven outs. After the first round is complete, the players will be seeded in a bracket-style tournament.
The participant from both leagues with the highest number of home runs will be given a bye in the second round, but the second- and third-place finishers will be forced to square off against their league counterparts (i.e. AL 2 vs. AL 3 and NL 2 vs. NL 3). Each batter gets seven outs.
In the third round, the top seeds from each league take on the winners of Round 2 in the semifinals (i.e. AL 1 vs. AL 2 or 3 and NL 1 vs. NL 2 or 3). The winner from each matchup will then represent their league in the final.
The finals will consist of seven outs, with the man with the most home runs in that round winning the event. If it is a tie, there will be a three-swing rule with the winner being the player who hits more home runs in that time.
In the event of another tie, it will be a sudden-death swing off. This sounds exciting to me.
Predicting the 2014 Home Run Derby Winner
There are few events in all of sports that capture the minds of the fans like the Home Run Derby, and this year’s event has some real heavy hitters. After a wild first round, baseball fans should expect the biggest names like Bautista, Tulowitzki, Cespedes, Puig, Jones and Stanton to be in contention.
The man to watch, though, is Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton.
Stanton is currently having the best season of his young career. With a .302 batting average, 21 home runs, 62 RBI and a .401 on-base percentage, there are many fans and experts who believe he should start the All-Star Game.
Regardless of how much he plays in the actual game, Stanton will steal the show during the Home Run Derby. Anthony DiComo of MLB.com is among the fans very happy to have the slugger in the event:
When asked about Stanton’s chances of winning, Marlins manager Mike Redmond told Craig Davis of the Sun-Sentinel about how he thinks the slugger will handle the pressure:
He’s been waiting a long time for this day. He certainly deserves it. I think the most important thing, no matter what happens, is for him to just enjoy it and let it be a great experience. This guy has got sick pop. He can hit homers anytime he wants. I like his chances for sure. But I’ve never been in a home run derby. A single-to-right derby, maybe.
As Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported, Redmond has a vested interest in the event:
The key for Stanton is just taking it easy and not forcing the issue. He already has one of the best swings in the game, but it’s so dangerous because it looks so effortless.
With raw power for days, Stanton will be going for distance as much as overall numbers.
According to MLB.com, Stanton leads the league in distance on his home runs, averaging an astounding 423.8 feet per bomb. That kind of freakish power could make the annual event even more special.
For the sake of baseball fans across the world, let’s hope Stanton finds a rhythm and starts hitting shots deep into the event and steals the overall victory.
Predicted Finish: Stanton Wins the 2014 Home Run Derby
*Stats via MLB.com.