Tonight is one of my favorite parts of baseball season – the Home Run Derby. I have so much fun watching players crush the ball over and over again. One ball flies farther than the next. It’s so exciting seeing how far those guys can hit the ball.
It used to be that MLB picked the players for the Home Run Derby. But last season, MLB changed the process. Now MLB chooses an American League and National League captain, and those players pick thee other participants (from their own league, of course).
This year’s captains are Toronto’s Jose Bautista in the American League and Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki in the National League. In the AL, Bautista chose Minnesota’s Brian Dozier, Baltimore’s Adam Jones and, two players from Oakland, Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes, the reigning Home Run Derby champion. Tulowitzki, meanwhile, picked fellow NL’ers Todd Frazier from Cincinnati, Los Angeles’ Yasiel Puig, Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, and Colorado’s Justin Morneau.
These are some really good choices. But it could have been better. It would’ve been nice to see Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout, but both declined. Why? The common reason people give when they say no is that they think trying to hit homers could mess up their swing.
If you’re going to watch the Derby, you should also know about a few rule changes made for this year’s competition.
First, each team gets one extra player (for a total of 10), and there are now seven outs in each round instead of 10.
When the first round ends, the person with the most home runs from each league, will get a bye to the semifinals (which is really the third round). The people who finish second and third from each league will face off against each other in the second round. Whoever wins will advance to the semifinals against the first-round winner. Then the person with the most home runs from each league will meet for the Home Run Derby Title! What if there’s a tie in the finals? Then they will have another round, with only three outs per person.
I predict that Puig will win the Home Run Derby. Even if he doesn’t, I know he will be exciting to watch. He always is. Whenever Puig hits a home run, he celebrates by flipping his bat, then throwing his hands up in the air and watches the ball as he slowly runs down the base paths. I can’t wait to see what he will do to celebrate home runs in the Derby.
Who will hit the longest home run? How will former Twin Morneau do being back at his old home stadium? Will Cespedes defend his title?
At my house, we turn watching the Derby into our own game.
We used to just put the names of everyone participating in the Derby into a hat and each draw two names. Whoever had the winner was our family’s winner. This year, we are changing our format, too.
We are going to do a draft. We’ll pick numbers (1-5) to determine the order for the first round, then go in reverse order for the second round. So whoever picks fifth, also goes sixth; whoever picks first, goes tenth. It’s called a snake draft. Everyone must draft one player from the AL and one from the NL. Whoever has the winner of the Home Run Derby will be our family champion.
I hope I can draft Puig, so if he wins, I’ll win, too!
Photo: Harry How/Getty Images