Home Run Derby Preview

1:42p The second biggest night of the summer is tonight. (Second to the All-Star Game, if you’re wondering.)

The long-anticipated Home Run Derby, revamped with some new rules, will take place tonight at 7:00 CT tonight in Phoenix, Arizona, at Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks.

The biggest change from previous years is the new team aspect. The two previous Home Run Derby champions- Prince Fielder of the Brewers and David Ortiz of the Red Sox- were chosen as captains of their respective leagues, and were allowed to chose three other players from their league who they thought were home run hitters and could help in the derby. Here are the teams for each league (with a little description for each player):

National League

Prince Fielder (captain), Brewers- 22 home runs- Arguably the best home run hitter in the league, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Brewers fan. He already has a 50-homer season under his belt, and can hit homers for distance- he currently has the longest home run in 2011, a 486-foot shot off of Houston’s Brett Myers.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers- 22 home runs- He’s currently tied for second in the league with Fielder and has proven he can kill the ball. He’s already just six home runs away from his total for all of last year, which was 28.

Matt Holliday, Cardinals- 14 home runs- He only has 14 homers because of  a few stints on the DL. But Holliday participated in the derby last year and can kill the ball when he’s right.

Rickie Weeks, Brewers- 17 home runs- Just because he’s a lead-off hitter doesn’t mean he can’t hit home runs. Weeks has 17 homers from the lead-off spot, which is pretty impressive. One of the reasons Fielder chose him to be on the team is because of how badly he kills the ball in batting practice, which is pretty much what the derby is: competitive batting practice.

American League

David Ortiz (captain), Red Sox- 19 home runs- Last year’s derby champion. He’s been able to hit more homers this year because he learned to use the opposite field once again, courtesy of teammate Adrian Gonzalez (also on the derby team).

Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox- 17 home runs- He hits a lot of opposite field homers, but has some extreme pull power as well. Not to mention he currently leads the AL in batting with a .354 average. That has nothing to do with home runs, but is impressive, nonetheless.

Jose Bautista, Blue Jays- 31 home runs- He was the home run king last year with 54, and he proved it was no fluke. His 31 blasts this year lead all of baseball, and he’s on track to become the home run king yet again.

Robinson Cano, Yankees- 15 home runs- Not really someone you think of as a home run hitter, but he can kill the ball. He had 29 all of last year, and is on track to be somewhere around there again this year.

So there you have it. All of the Home Run Derby contestants. If I had to chose who I think is going to win, I’d say the American League, mainly because of Bautista. Although I do want the National League to win, I just think the AL has a better chance. I’ll probably have a recap post up later after the derby.

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