Every year before the Home Run Derby I like to pull out a few facts about each participant and then try to guess a winner. It kind of worked in 2008, and not so much last year. I know we’re still lacking two entrants but I’m off to Columbia for my wedding tomorrow. I won’t actually get to watch the Derby but I’ve got it DVR’ed and I’ll watch it when we get back from Barbados. One of our friends over at Doin’ Work will be there, though, so go read his account.
Alright, first off, we have our six players:
|American League||National League|
|Miguel Cabrera (DET)||Corey Hart (MIL)|
|David Ortiz (BOS)||Matt Holliday (STL)|
|Vernon Wells (TOR)||Hanley Ramirez (FLA)|
Miguel Cabrera currently has 21 homers which puts him one behind Toronto’s Jose Bautista and Cincinnati’s Joey Votto (Finally! He’s an All-Star!) for the Major League lead. Cabrera has taken part in this contest once before; he placed third in Pittsburgh in 2006 (15 homers). He’s got 230 homers in his career, including five homers at Angel Stadium in 16 career games. His season long blast is also his career long*: a 468 foot blast off Brian Fuentes in Anaheim back on April 21st. That also happens to be the longest homer at Angels Stadium this season.
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is certainly no stranger to these contests having participated in three of them. In Houston in 2004, Ortiz hit only three homers en route to a first round exit. The next year in Detroit, he put up 17 first round homers but could only muster three in the second round where he was eliminated. He met a similar fate in Pittsburgh in 06 when he hit 10 homers in the first round and only three in the next year where he exited. Ortiz also has the most career home runs with 334. After an atrocious first half last season, Ortiz surged through September and finished with 28 homers. He started this year the same way but heated up a bit sooner and has 17 bombs at the break. He hit his season and career long* homer this season on May 14th when he took Detroit’s Max Scherzer 459 feet away from home plate at Comerica Park. Ortiz is perhaps the most familiar with Angel Stadium having gone deep seven times in 35 career games.
The final confirmed AL participant is Toronto’s Vernon Wells. The Blue Jays outfielder is enjoying a resurgent season north of the border with 19 homers at the break (or at the time I publish this; you get the idea). Wells has never taken part in a Home Run Derby before. He has played the most games in Angel Stadium by one game over Ortiz, but he has only gone deep there three times. Wells has 211 home runs to his credit which is 19 behind Cabrera for the second most in this year’s Derby. Unlike the other two AL contestants, Wells did not hit the longest homer of his career this season. Back in 2007 he took Cliff Lee 472 feet into the Toronto night. This year he hammered a Kyle Davies pitch 453 feet back on April 20th.
Our NL sluggers don’t have nearly the track record that the AL ones have, but they should still put on a good show.
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Corey Hart has 19 homers at the break which is only five short of his career high set back in 2007. Like Wells, Hart has never been in the Home Run Derby before. Hart’s 86 homers represent the lowest total for all the contestants. He does have some pop, though, he hit a 440 foot bomb of the Twins’ Carl Pavano on May 23rd. Last year he hit a 446 footer off of Reds hurler Johnny Cueto for his career best. Hart has never homered in Angel Stadium, though he has only played three games there. No word yet on whether he’ll wear his sunglasses during the Derby. I can only hope.
Matt Holliday will be in this contest for the second time in his career. Back in San Francisco 2007 he tied with his current teammate, Albert Pujols, for third place with 13 total homers. This year Holliday will bring 14 homers and his new Cardinal red to Anaheim. He’s never homered in Angel Stadium in five career contest but does have 166 career long balls to his name. This year Holliday’s longest homer was a 435 footer off of Oakland’s Trevor Cahill on June 20th. His career long, however, was a titanic 498 foot blast off Matt Cain at Coors Field in 2006. Before you dismiss that as the elevation in Denver, he also hit a 476 footer at Dodger Stadium that same year. I can also attest to his batting practice power since I’ve seen him hit a few almost out of Busch Stadium. Some of them may have gone out, but it’s hard to tell from where I stand. Either way, it’s impressive.
Finally, we have our newest entrant is Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez. He comes into the break with 13 homers including two 429 footers to his name. For his career, though, he has a much more impressive 476 foot clout off of Colorado’s Greg Reynolds in 2008 (also a Coors Field homer). Ramirez will also have the second lowest total for his career with 116 bombs. Like Hart and Wells, this will be Ramirez’s first career Home Run Derby and he’s never played a game in Angel Stadium before.
I can’t really speculate on who the final two contestants will be, but I’d guess they’ll be left handed since David Ortiz is the only lefty so far. Hopefully they can convince Joey Votto to sign up, I’d like to see him take part. For the AL, obviously I want to see Josh Hamilton after the show he put on in 2008. I doubt he does it and the same goes for that year’s winner, Justin Morneau. The Twins first baseman was diagnosed with a mild concussion recently so I wouldn’t think he’d risk anything. I’ve also said before that I’d love to see Ichiro in one of these and that still stands. He won’t do it, though. I guess I’ll settle on Torii Hunter. He plays in Anaheim so it would give the Derby some hometown flavor and Torii has a colorful personality that would spice it up a bit.
Finally, we’ve come to my prediction. Since these things are impossible to predict and it’s just a guess, I’m going with Matt Holliday because I work for the Cardinals and he’s a nice guy.
*The data on career long home runs only goes back to 2005.