MLB Home Run Derby

Prince Fielder has the home run swing, which can make a difference in these competitions

Tomorrow night, the home run derby will be held.  Long considered the “slam dunk contest” of the Baseball all-star weekend, it features the best power hitters (supposedly), as they square off to see who can hammer the most 60 mile per hour pitches over the wall.  Odds are taken from Bodog.

 

 

Jose Bautista, 6’0″ 195

Last year: 54 HR
This year:  31 HR

Odds to win:  3/1

It’s hard to go against Bautista in this competition.  He’s drawn comparisons to Barry Bonds with his compact yet powerful body and the way he is able to connect with both inside and outside pitches with equally ferocious power.  All that aside, the home run competition is quite different, and while Bautista has the perfect home run swing, sometimes batters get too caught in trying to hammer the ball and lose sight of their natural swing in overcompensation for a “home run swing…”  Which is why you will see that I favor Prince Fielder in this competition.

Prince Fielder, 5’11” 275

Prince Fielder has the most raw power of these hitters in the competition, and that bodes well when they are connecting on 60 mile per hour slowballs.  Fielder has the power to come around and pull the slow pitches deep, aided by the fact that he is so accustomed to swinging for the fences to begin with.  While he may be a bit underwhelming compared to his father Cecil, he did inherit his father’s power and in time may have equally as imposing stats.  I like Fielder for this competition, though, as the most powerful tend to prevail in these things.

Last year:  32 HR
This year:  22 HR

Odds to win:  15/4

David Ortiz, 6’4″ 230

Last year:  32 HR
This year:  19 HR

Big Papi is one of those sentimental picks.  Much like Ken Griffey Jr, people are continuing to think Big Papi has more left in the tank than he actually does.  He’s not as powerful, with much of his upper body mass having become fat, and his swing is a good bit slower than it was when he was in his heyday, even if that was only a couple years ago.  Of course, any of these hitters can get hot and if Ortiz did there is a plausible chance he could win this competition, but the same can also be said of the slight of frame Rickie Weeks, who is the odds on underdog.

Odds to win:  9/2

Matt Holliday, 6’4″ 235

Last year: 28
This year:  14

It’s weird that people consider Holiday to be a power hitter.  He’s never hit more than 40 home runs in a season and hasn’t hit over 30 since 2007.  He does consistently have a high slugging percentage, but he isn’t the most powerful.  Every once in a while, Holiday really connects on one and makes the top plays, but for the most part he is an extra base hitter, having recorded 45 doubles last season and 19 already this year.

Odds to win: 9/2

Adrian Gonzalez, 6’2″ 225

Last year: 31
This year:  17

In 2009, Adrian Gonzalez hit 40 home runs, but fell off to 31 last season.  He’s kept his slugging percentage above .500 every year he’s been in the league and has consistently put in about 600 at bats every year, with his high season in RBIs having been 119 in 2008.   While he has a lot of power, he still isn’t comparable to Fielder.  He is a good dark horse candidate though, due to his upper body strength, which as I said, bodes well in these competitions.

Odds to win:  11/2

Matt Kemp, 6’3″ 220

Last year: 28
This year:  22

Like Holiday, Kemp isn’t really a power hitter.  Sure, he hits over 20 homers a season, but in baseball’s prime power era (otherwise known as the steroid era), Kemp wouldn’t have even been in this competition.  While he is listed at 220, he finds a way to weigh that much with minimal strength in his arms and pectorals.  What I am saying, essentially, is that Kemp doesn’t have what it takes to win one of these, even if he is a plausible so-called power hitter.

Odds to win:  15/2

Robinson Cano, 6’0″ 205

Last year: 29
This year: 15

Cano and Weeks are both power packed…but only for their size.  They don’t have the strength to hang with the real sluggers in this competition and are home run hitters only because of the high percentage of pitches they connect on; some are bound to go yard.  The problem for Cano, however, is that this year he is under .300 at the plate for the first time since 2008.

Odds to win:  15/2

Rickie Weeks, 5’10” 217

Last year: 29
This year:  17

I don’t think it’s logical to expect Weeks to have a chance in this competition.  He’s not particularly powerful, he just has a way of getting ahold of pitches ocassionally due to his quick swing.  He’s not really that great at the plate, anyway, with a batting average under .280 every season.  His best contributions are in the field.

Odds to win: 12/1

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