The powers that be in Major League Baseball have determined that the Home Run Derby needed to be tweaked to explicitly pit one league against the other, in addition to the traditional individual format. I can see it being a good concept, with the sluggers from each league pulling for each other to win the team contest, but that pretty much was going on anyway. It’s a good idea, but I don’t see why it is really necessary.
One very cool new aspect of this year’s derby though is that for the first time, the participants in the contest will be selected by a captain from each league. The 2009 winner, Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers will pick the NL squad while 2010 champion David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox will pick for the American League.
I like this idea, as I think the players will take their selections seriously and take input from teammates and fellow players. They will have to take into consideration not only who is having a good slugging season this year, but who has a swing and the power conducive to a contest like this.
I’m not totally sure how the participants were selected in the past, but if I were Fielder and Ortiz, this is how I would pick the teams. (Also if I were Fielder and Ortiz, I would be a very large person.)
Fielder could go a couple different ways here, starting first with his teammate Ryan Braun. Braun has been one of the best hitters in the NL this season, with 16 homers and 60 RBI entering July. He could also pick guys like Matt Kemp, who is leading the NL in home runs, and Lance Berkman, who has had a resurgence this season.
However, if I were Fielder, I’d play for the win with young guys who can simply mash.
While not as complete a hitter as teammate Joey Votto, Bruce has emerged as the best slugger on the Reds. He has that leg kick and an easy swing, which I think would be perfect to turn on 82 mph fastballs in a home run derby.
He’s only 21 and may someday break the strikeout record, he has the potential to shatter home run records as well. I’ve seen and read accounts of his amazing power, and he could definitely be a staple of home run derbies for many years to come.
Morse was a journeyman for a while, but has really seized his opportunity in just over a month of regular playing time for the Nationals. He has 15 home runs, good for 10th in the NL, in far fewer at-bats than the other league leaders.
The first decision that Big Papi has to make is whether to include Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson on his squad. The two have combined for 46 home runs entering July, but Ortiz would have to play nice with Yankees, which he has proven he can do in the past. Ortiz could also side with new teammate Adrian Gonzalez, which would prove for an interesting foursome if those were to be the picks.
If I were picking the AL squad, I would go in a little different direction.
This one is a no-brainer. This guys is simply mashing this season and could do some serious damage in the derby.
He has Home Run Derby experience, having participated back in 2009. Cruz is crushing the ball again this season, with 18 home runs in about 50 at-bats less than most of the leaders.
He might be having a pretty awful season, but a Home Run Derby could be just the thing that turns it around for Dunn. He’s never competed in a derby, and I’m not sure why, but I think he would be a spectacular addition to the AL squad.
If you were David Ortiz and Prince Fielder, who would you choose for the AL and NL Home Run Derby teams?