The excitement surrounding the 20th annual MLB Home Run Derby has baseball fans of every team anticipating which of the contestants will steal the show this year.
The 2014 Home Run Derby takes place July 14 at Target Field in Minnesota.
With top sluggers like Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki and Giancarlo Stanton taking part in the annual event, fans should expect some serious heavy hitting. Add in the new bracket format, and this will be a special showcase.
Here is a full list of participants and a focus on the player most likely to win.
|Home Run Derby Roster|
|American League||National League|
|Jose Bautista *||Troy Tulowitzki *|
|Yoenis Cespedes||Todd Frazier|
|Brian Dozier||Yasiel Puig|
|Adam Jones||Giancarlo Stanton|
|Josh Donaldson||Justin Morneau|
|Source: MLB.com. *Denotes team captain.|
Star to Watch: Jose Bautista, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
One of the biggest stars to grace the 2014 Home Run Derby is Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, and he will have a legitimate shot to steal the show by winning the entire event.
The Home Run Derby is set up perfectly for an effortless swinger like Bautista.
Since 2010, he has hit an incredible 169 home runs and still looks to be going strong, even at 33 years old. With 17 home runs this season already, the Blue Jays star will be looking to reach the 30-home run plateau once again.
While his offensive numbers have been impressive, it is the improving batting average and on-base percentage that has the veteran returning to his elite form. Now, he must translate that success to the Home Run Derby.
Bautista took to Twitter to thank the fans who voted him into the All-Star Game:
ESPN’s SportsCenter showcased the depth of Bautista’s American League team:
The reason Bautista is such a threat is his swing. He is not an overpowering presence on the field, but he knows how to keep his swing short and turn the power from his hips to the bat without losing any of the momentum.
One of the biggest reasons he is such a good home run hitter is the speed of his swing. At just 6’0” and 205 pounds, his size can only produce so much power. That’s where the quickness of his swing and the fact that he keeps it close to his body make him so dangerous in live-game action.
The hope is that Bautista will be able to translate his power to the softer batting practice-style pitching he will face during the Home Run Derby. This could make for a very interesting night.
Predicted Home Run Derby Finish: Winner
*Stats via MLB.com.