The 2014 MLB Home Run Derby has the game's most potent slugger, the most interesting player in baseball and the defending champ who put on quite a show last year.
That's Giancarlo Stanton, Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes, respectively, the three names that top the list of derby participants picked by captains Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista. Most of the 10-hitter field was officially announced Tuesday — three each for the AL and NL, with the final selection for each league to be named Thursday.
They'll compete at 8 p.m. ET Monday at Target Field. This year there's a new bracket format that's bound to make MLB's annual long-ball competition more interesting. Here's the list of competitors and the lowdown on the new format:
• Jose Bautista (captain): 17 homers in 2014, 17.2 career AB/HR.
• Yoenis Cespedes (defending champion): 14 homers in 2014, 21.4 career AB/HR.
• Adam Jones: 16 homers in 2014, 25.0 career AB/HR.
• Brian Dozier: 16 homer in 2014, 30.2 career AB/HR.
• Troy Tulowitzki (captain): 18 homers in 2014, 20.5 career AB/HR.
• Giancarlo Stanton: 21 homers in 2014, 15.1 career AB/HR.
• Yasiel Puig: 12 homers in 2014, 22.7 career AB/HR.
• Todd Frazier: 17 homers in 2014, 23.0 career AB/HR.
A number of home-run bashers are sitting this out. Among the players who have declined invites: MLB home-run leader Nelson Cruz, rookie slugger Jose Abreu, injured Blue Jays star Edwin Encarnacion (but he declined before getting injured), all-everything outfielder Mike Trout. Notice those are all American League hitters. The NL brings three of its top five home-run hitters in Stanton, Tulowitzki and Frazier. None of the AL's top current five are in the derby.
The derby will have one interesting twist this year, regardless of which players are in. A bracket-style competition is being adopted from the second round forward. In the first round, each hitter will get seven outs to put up the best score. (Every round has been reduced to seven outs, presumably so players don't tire out). After the first round, the top three from each league will then advance, with the top hitter getting a bye into the third round. Then it becomes an AL vs. NL homer showdown as you can see in the graphic below.
Yep, you're right. We may have to start a bracket pool this year.
Looking for quick predictions? Stanton and Cespedes have to be the favorites to make the finals — Cespedes because he put on such a show last season, and Stanton because he's the biggest homer hitter in the game right now. But if you're looking for a dark horse, keep an eye on Reds third baseman Todd Frazier.
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