2015 Home Run Derby Preview
We are creeping towards the middle of July, which means one thing; HOME RUN DERBY TIME! Yes, despite the fact that baseball's slam dunk contest has more haters these days than Marvel Studios (who has earned those haters by the way), I always find myself getting excited for the home run derby. It can have its off years, but it can also produce memorable moments, like Mark McGwire's 1999 performance at Fenway, Josh Hamilton's 28 home run first round at Yankee Stadium in 2008 or Josh Hamilton's 28 home run first round at Yankee Stadium in 2008. That wasn't a typo, that moment was so good it had to be mentioned twice! It's moments like that that have kept me glued to the screen over the years, or at least kept me flipping back and forth between the derby and WWE RAW. Not this year though! With WWE and I having separated (I got the good wrestling, they got Roman Reigns), MLB changing the rules in a way that actually seems interesting (players are now timed. What a novel idea!) and not one, but TWO Chicago Cubs players in the derby, MLB has my full attention come tomorrow night. Thanks Vince McMahon!
With that in mind, I thought I'd give a little preview for this year's derby. I'll be perfectly frank with you all now; as a Cubs fan, I'm super biased towards both guys, and you won't find a bad thing written about either dude through this. That said, I'll try to be as fair and impartial as I can, while also having a good time. Hey, Bill Simmons did that, why can't I? So what do you say I knock this bad boy out of the park already? Dammit, I promised I wouldn't use any baseball puns. ON WITH THE SHOW!!!
(1) Albert Pujols vs. (8) Kris Bryant
By far, this is the Blade Runner of the opening round. Seriously, could MLB have asked for a better match up than this? A superstar from the last generation vs. a superstar for the next. One of the most popular veterans in the game vs. one of the most popular young players in the game. You couldn't script it better if Godfather era Francis Ford Coppola was writing it. Dare I say this will also be the most entertaining opening round match up? Don't be fooled by Bryant's low home run number this season (the lowest of all eight competitors); he can rake, and if anyone here has potential for a moonbeam, it's this dude. And you know Pujols has something to prove, what with this being his comeback season and all. Trust me, this is going to be tight. Like, Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie about to get squished in the garbage container tight. My head here is with Pujols, while my heart is with Bryant. And well, you just don't mess with a Cubs fans heart in matters like this! Bryant 12, Pujols 10
(4) Joc Pederson vs. (5) Manny Machado
You're going to notice a certain theme start to emerge here, which is that the National League has a big advantage against the American League. Yes, Manny Machado is in trouble in this one. That's not a knock on the kid; he's one of the best all around third basemen in baseball and he looks to be breaking out this year as well following Shyamalan string of bad luck. But let's be real here; Machado isn't a home run hitter. Great hitter yes, but this is a guy who's more likely to hit .320 plus every year than wallop 40 rockets. I'm just not buying him here yet, especially against Pederson. While he may not have the hitting prowess of Machado, the Dodgers phenom (how many phenoms do they have?!) has the long ball thing down, hitting 20 already this year. This is despite batting .230 mind you, which likely means that he's looking for home runs first (though to be fair, it could also mean his balls in play average is worse than a Pink Floyd album without Roger Waters). That won't work long term during a baseball season, but it'll certainly work here in the home run derby. Pederson 8, Machado 3
(3) Josh Donaldson vs. (6) Anthony Rizzo
This is almost a mirror image of the last match up, where we have a great hitter that can hit home runs vs. a great home run hitter who can hit for average. Thank goodness my guy is the latter. Look, I love Josh Donaldson as an overall player. He might be the best player in baseball right now, despite what all the Mike Trout shippers would have you believe (I kid. Mike Trout's really good. Please don't hurt me). But is he a home run hitter? I don't think so. In contrast, the Cubs wily veteran leader (at 26 years old) has a ton of pop and seems like just the kind of guy who won't worry about having to change up his swing in this sort of deal (a bigger issue now that the rules have been changed again). On top of that, he's also my favorite player in baseball, which means Donaldson never had a chance anyway. Oh goodness, I really am going to turn into Bill Simmons here, aren't I? Oh well. Rizzo 7, Donaldson 4
(2) Todd Frazier vs. (7) Prince Fielder
Other than Bryant-Pujols, this might be the match up that features two guys more known for raking than anything else. That makes it easier for me to call a winner here, which is Frazier. Yes I know, I'm picking a dude who last year lost the finals to Yoenis Cespedes 9-1, the biggest blow out of the summer that didn't involve Brock Lesnar or John Cena. That said, he was in the finals! That counts for something, as does the fact that the dude will be hitting in his home ballpark, a big advantage for at least this opening round. And I don't know, I'm just not feeling Prince right here. I know he's been to numerous derby's in the past and I'm happy he's returned again after it looked his career has xXx'd off a cliff. But he has the second lowest amount of home runs out of all eight competitor (and unlike Kris Bryant, he's not Kris Bryant) and it's not like he's ever been great here anyway. Get ready for an all National League semi final/finals! Frazier 9, Fielder 4
(4) Joc Pederson vs. (8) Kris Bryant
Yet another win for MLB, as they go from having an intriguing past-future match up to an intriguing future-future match up. Somewhere, Bud Selig is furious with himself as he tries to get someone to tap A-Rod's phone. I was originally going to go in a different direction with this one; as much as I love Bryant, I've just been having the feeling that this might be a year early for him as far winning one of these shin digs. Add that with the power Pederson has shown, and I was all set to give the young Dodgers star the nod, followed by me watching Superman IV as punishment for going against my beloved Cubs. But you know what? I've just got a feeling here that Bryant is going to get it done. I don't know if he's just going to come in looking to show the world what he's got, if Pederson is going to try so hard he ends up eliminating himself or if it'll be some Frankenstein esq fusion of those two points. But I just got a feeling here. Which means we can hold off on Superman IV for a few more minutes! Bryant 7, Pederson 6
(2) Todd Frazier vs. (6) Anthony Rizzo
I know what this looks like here people. And well, it's not. There will be no all Cubs final in this derby, no matter how morose that may leave me. Here's the simple truth of the matter; Frazier is just as good, if not better, a power hitter than Rizzo, has the advantage of being in his home park and has the motivation to try and redeem himself from his Rocky IV level performance from last year. I can't go against that, at least not in the second round. Maybe if it were Ernie Banks in his prime or Sammy Sosa while he was popping Skittle flavored roids, but not here. Sorry Rizzo; you're still my boy! As punishment, I'll now boot up Superman IV. And I thought I was rid of Nuclear Man forever. Frazier 8, Rizzo 5
(2) Todd Frazier vs. (8) Kris Bryant
We have not only reached the finals, but we've reached the point where expectations and crowd support is going to turn on Frazier. Hey, I told you it was coming at some point. Look, even if I wasn't the diehard Cubs fan that I am, there's just something about Frazier in the final round that gives me the same feeling LeBron used to do in the fourth quarter. I don't think he'll choke this time around like he did last year (which was a tour de force of home run suck), but I'm thinking this will be more disappointing than expected. And, well, that leaves the door open for my boy Kris Bryant. Again, I don't have any hard evidence that suggests he should win this thing, beyond his great power numbers last year in the minors I suppose. But again, I just have a feeling that things are going to break right for him tomorrow evening. Thus, it pleases me (and MLB I'm sure) to say that the Cubs future cornerstone is going to take this crown and win the Cubs their first trophy since...I don't even remember. Dammit, even when we win something, we lose. Bryant 5, Frazier 4. Winner and new Home Run Derby Champion, Kris Bryant!
That'll do it guys. I'll be back later today with some lucha libre and Community talk. Till then, the following meme was brought to you by Bud Selig.