Monday, June 30, 2014

Picking the Home Run Derby Contestants

Minnesota will host the All-Star Game in a little more than a couple weeks and this is the time of year where pundits start debating who should and who shouldn't be on the All-Star Game roster.

One of the most exciting events in almost 30 years since Minnesota last hosted the game is the Home Run Derby. In 1985, the last year the Twins were the host, the first HR Derby was held and this event has exploded to a full-day prime-time event.

It's always nice for the home team to have a participant in the derby but the Twins won't likely have a candidate when the final derby teams are announce. If I was in the shoes of Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista, this is how I would construct the rosters.

The Captains: Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista
Major League Baseball already announced both of these players as captains and they were both leading fan voting for the All-Star Game. Bautista will lead the AL squad that has won the last four contests. The Toronto slugger will return to the event for the third time. Tulowitzki will be participating in his first home run derby but he is in the middle of a monster season for Colorado. There have only been a handful of shortstops to participate in this event so it will be interesting to see how Tulo can do.

Former Twins: Justin Morneau, Carlos Gomez
Since the Twins aren't likely going to have a representative in this event, the closest thing to a Twin would be Justin Morneau. He spent the first 11 years of his career here and he would get one heck of an ovation from the Target Field fans. Tulowitzki has already said that he won't ask Morneau to participate in the event until rosters are announced for the All Star Game. Another former Twin that could be asked to participate is Carlos Gomez. Besides his connection to playing here, he's also from Minnesota's border state so the Brew Crew can be happy too. There's no doubt he would bring a certain flare to the event.

The Rest of the NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Yasiel Puig
While Tulowitzki is waiting to announce some members of the squad, he has already come out and said that Giancarlo Stanton will be participating. Stanton is known for his shows in batting practice so it makes sense for him to participate in this event. He has never been a contestant in the event and he will quickly become one of the favorites this year. Yasiel Puig is a sensational player and he can do some amazing things on the field. This event seems tailor made to his personality. The only questions that remains is... Would he do a bat flip after every home run?

The Former Champion: Yoenis Cespedes
Last season Yoenis Cespedes beat out Bryce Harper to take home the HR Derby crown. If he wants to defend his title, he is going to have to do it in Minnesota. He's already told reporters in the Bay Area that he plans to defend his title. This could also set-up an interesting Cuban match-up if both Cespedes and Puig are participants. No player has repeated as champion since Ken Griffey Jr back in 1998 and 1999. That's a long streak to break and Cespedes will have plenty of competition standing in his way.

The Rest of the American League: Mike Trout, Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis
Mike Trout is the best player in the world and it could be exciting to see what he can do when he's swinging for the fences with every pitch. Bryce Harper got to participate in last year's event so maybe it's Trout's turn. If Bautista is going to bring a teammate, it could be Edwin Encarnacion, who is near the top of the AL leader board in home runs. Jose Abreu said he didn't want to participate and Nelson Cruz had his steroid issue last year so Encarnacion could be a solid choice. A year ago, Chris Davis put on a solid showing in this event finishing in fourth place so he might want another shot at the title. He also has the most home runs in the AL since the start of 2013 so sign him up.

My AL Team:
1. Jose Bautista- Toronto
2. Yoenis Cespedes- Oakland
3. Mike Trout- Los Angeles
4. Edwin Encarnacion- Toronto
5. Chris Davis- Baltimore

My NL Team:
1. Troy Tulowitzki- Colorado
2. Giancarlo Stanton- Miami
3. Justin Morneau- Colorado
4. Carlos Gomez- Milwaukee
5. Yasiel Puig- Los Angeles

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