The focus for many baseball fans has already turned to the All-Star Game, but Monday is one of the most interesting events in all of sports, the 2014 Home Run Derby.
With 10 of the best power hitters in the game going to battle for home run supremacy, the resulting competition will be must-watch television. Add in the bracket-style format, and fans will be enthralled by the action.
Here is a full list of participants from both the American and National leagues and a focus on the player most likely to steal the show.
|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.
Predicted Winner: Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins
Each participant in the 2014 Home Run Derby has the power and consistency to be a major threat in this competition, but no man is equipped to dominate an event like this more than Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.
At 6’6” and 240 pounds, Stanton is a big man. The difference between his swing and that of other taller players is how compact he keeps it and how he focuses all the power from his hips and his arms into the bat to drive the ball.
ESPN’s stats and info Twitter account shared a crazy statistic that gives Stanton the edge on Monday:
Giancarlo Stanton has actually hit more 450+ foot HRs than any TEAM in MLB this season. pic.twitter.com/MS5nXi4kU4— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 10, 2014
Stanton also has familiarity on his side, as Twins PR man Dustin Morse talked about who will be pitching to the slugger in the Derby:
Not only will #MNTwins get to watch Dozier & Morneau in the HR Derby, but also get to see Mike Redmond pitch to Giancarlo Stanton.— Dustin Morse (@Twins_morsecode) July 12, 2014
When asked about missing out on the fan vote and how he views the selection process, Stanton was candid with Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, saying:
I really don't care. At the end of the day, there is a small group of people who know who should be there… It's about making money. It's about keeping people happy. You can't always keep everyone happy, whether it's fair or unfair. It is what it is.
Stanton has the opportunity to steal the show Monday night, but it’s about much more than that now. As Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald pointed out, the departure of LeBron James has made the slugging outfielder a south Florida favorite, and his popularity will rise if he wins the Home Run Derby:
Now that the stage has been cleared I guess this elevates Giancarlo Stanton to most exciting pro athlete in Miami— Manny Navarro (@Manny_Navarro) July 11, 2014
Stanton leads the National League in home runs with 21, but he has been so much more than just a power hitter this season.
With a .295 batting average, 63 RBI, 61 runs and an impressive .395 on-base percentage, Stanton is rounding into an all-around hitter that Miami can build its franchise around.
The dominant bat in the middle of the lineup is a great piece of the puzzle.
The confidence Stanton has gained this season with his batting consistency in between home runs will be the major difference for the Marlins star, and the Home Run Derby will be his coming-out party for the casual baseball fans who don’t know much about the young slugger.
Do not blink when Stanton steps into the batter’s box.
*Stats via MLB.com.