Home Run Derby 2014: Final Predictions and Participants to Watch

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2014

July 12, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) before playing against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

March Madness has infected the Home Run Derby.

Everything needs a bracket these days, so it was only a matter of time before the participants in the long-ball contest got crammed into one. But understand that nobody is complaining—watching the likes of Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Bautista and Yasiel Puig face off in a bracket is nothing but a good time.

The All-Star Game's official Twitter account put Monday's festivities into visual form:

Expect nothing but moonshots galore in Minneapolis at Target Field Monday night when MLB's 10 best power hitters, led by captains Bautista (AL) and Troy Tulowitzki (NL), converge and enter a fray designed to make what was already an entertaining affair even better.

Let's take a look at the complete roster and full predictions for the event.

 

Home Run Derby Roster and First-Round Predictions
American League First-Round Total National League First-Round Tota
Jose Bautista * 16Troy Tulowitzki * 12
Yoenis Cespedes 14Todd Frazier 10
Adam Jones 10Yasiel Puig 13
Brian Dozier7 Giancarlo Stanton 9
Josh Donaldson 7 Justin Morneau 8
Source: MLB.com. *Denotes team captain.

 

2014 Home Run Derby Bracket Predictions
American League National League
Round 2 Winner Round 2 Loser Round 2 Winner Round 2 Loser
Yoenis Cespedes Adam JonesTroy Tulowitzki Todd Frazier
Round 3 Winner Round 3 Loser Round 3 Winner Round 3 Loser
Yoenis Cespedes Jose BautistaYasiel PuigTroy Tulowitzki
Finals Winner Finals Loser
Yoenis Cespedes Jose Bautista
Predictions

 

Yoenis Cespedes

Jul 7, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) high fives teammates in the dugout after scoring a run against the San Francisco Giants during the seventh inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY
USA TODAY Sports

Already a winner in the minds of many after finally securing his first All-Star berth, Yoenis Cespedes enters with perhaps more pressure than any contestant Monday night because he happens to be the defending champ.

If Cespedes can somehow overcome nine other elite competitors and a new format, he'll be the first player since a certain popular superstar to pull off the feat, as SportsCenter notes:

At face value, he does not seem to stand much of a chance. He has gone yard just 14 times this year, with a .246/.299/.442 line, but it's important to dial in on his performance last season at the Derby. There, Cespedes hit 17 homers in the first round and 32 overall, which ranks him tied with the third-most ever—and he didn't use all 10 outs in the final.

So it's clear that Cespedes performs under the spotlight of the Derby. Recent trends and momentum clearly go out the window at the event, at least for him.

 

Todd Frazier

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 12: Todd Frazier #21 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a three-run home run in the sixth inning of the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on July 12, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Pirates won 6-5 in 11 innings.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Call Todd Frazier the comeback kid.

Also a debutant, Frazier has hit 19 homers in each of the past three seasons, although this year and two seasons ago were highlights, as it took him in the neighborhood of only 400 plate appearances each time to reach the number.

Frazier is quietly one of the most powerful hitters in the league at the plate, hence his selection. But he should not be so under the radar at this point—the man is known for homers in the minds of those who have followed his career.

He's hit a few recent homers too, so Frazier certainly should not be overlooked, despite the fact that he might just be the smallest name in attendance Monday night.

For Frazier, who has made a career out of coming from nowhere to seize the spotlight, that might just be how he prefers it.

 

Yasiel Puig

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13:  Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts to his strikeout during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on July 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

At just 23 years of age, Yasiel Puig might just be the most important name in attendance at the Derby, as his youth and antics are enough to make the event a must-see spectacle once more.

By all accounts, including one from Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register, the young slugger is more than excited for his opportunity to shine:

Puig has just 12 homers to his name this season, but when he connects, they flyAccording to ESPN, Puig's homer of 452 feet from May ranks No. 24 overall this year, and his total average distance is a stellar 417.3 feet.

The MLB needs Puig to get hot. As Fox Sports' Jon Morosi notes, he's a critical piece of the league's future:

An argument can be made that Puig does not go yard consistently enough to justify his selection for the event, but he has a chance to silence critics and make it a top sporting event once again in one fell swoop.

 

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