The Home Run Derby is admittedly long and tedious, but there's still something fun about seeing some of the game's brightest stars hit baseballs a long, long way. While this year's event had plenty of hype due to the inclusion of MLB home run leader Chris Davis, it was Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes who ended up stealing the show.
Cespedes, who won't even play in Tuesday's All-Star Game, blew away the competition in the first round by hitting 17 homers. That's more than anybody else had in the first two rounds combined. The hometown captains, David Wright and Robinson Cano, didn't advance past the first round. Bryce Harper, who was being thrown to by his father, clinched a spot in the finals by hitting eight home runs in each of the first two rounds. After the 20-year-old outfielder connected for eight more in the finals, Cespedes launched nine to take home the victory. His winning blast featured this entertaining bat flip, with the GIF goodness courtesy of Cork Gaines. There has been a trend in recent years for only those selected as All-Stars to participate in the Home Run Derby, but hopefully Cespedes' victory will open things up a bit in the future.
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While the Home Run Derby can have its moments, the main reason everyone is gathered in New York this week is for Tuesday's All-Star Game. The starting pitchers and lineups were announced Monday afternoon, so let's take a look at the two squads:
LF Mike Trout
2B Robinson Cano
3B Miguel Cabrera
1B Chris Davis
RF Jose Bautista
DH David Ortiz
CF Adam Jones
C Joe Mauer
SS J.J. Hardy
That is one scary lineup. You can't do much better than Trout, Cano, and Cabrera as your top three. It's no surprise that Tigers manager Jim Leyland chose to put Davis in the cleanup spot, though it's worth noting that he has started 83 out of 95 games out of the fifth spot for the Orioles this season.
SP Max Scherzer
It was an easy call for Leyland to take one of his own, as Scherzer is quickly making the leap as one of the game's best pitchers. The 28-year-old right-hander is currently tied with Tampa Bay's Matt Moore for the MLB lead with 13 victories and has a 3.19 ERA and 152/31 K/BB ratio over 129 2/3 innings. Only the Rangers' Yu Darvish has a higher K/9 among qualified starters.
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Carlos Beltran
1B Joey Votto
3B David Wright
LF Carlos Gonzalez
C Yadier Molina
SS Troy Tulowitzki
DH Michael Cuddyer
CF Bryce Harper
While David Ortiz was voted in on the AL side, Giants manager Bruce Bochy picked Cuddyer as the DH for the NL team. Probably the most striking thing about this lineup is the presence of Phillips in the leadoff spot. Yes, the same guy who has a career .321 on-base percentage. I'd rather see Harper there, but these lineups will likely be rendered irrelevant by the third inning, so it's not worth wasting much time complaining about it.
SP Matt Harvey
All things being equal, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw has a pretty solid case to start for the National League side, but Harvey will get the assignment in his home park. It's not like Harvey isn't deserving of the honor, as he owns a fine 2.35 ERA and 147/28 K/BB ratio in 130 innings through 19 starts. He'd have more than seven victories if not for some shoddy run support. It should be special to see him take his home mound to challenge some of the best hitters in the majors.
Rays right-hander Alex Cobb suffered from a concussion and vertigo symptoms after he was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Royals' first baseman Eric Hosmer back on June 15, but he is getting closer to returning to game action.
Cobb had no issues Sunday when he faced live hitters for the first time since his concussion. Calling the BP session "a relief," he threw a total of 45 pitches. The plan calls for him to throw another round of batting practice Thursday at the team's spring training complex, but a minor league rehab assignment might not be far off.
Cobb was having a breakthrough season prior to the concussion, posting a 3.01 ERA and 76/23 K/BB ratio in 83 2/3 innings across 13 starts. The most important thing is his health, but he could provide a big boost to the Rays and fantasy owners if he can avoid setbacks.
MIXED LEAGUE QUICK HITS: Chris Davis opened up a callus on his right hand during Monday's Home Run Derby, but it's not expected to be an issue moving forward … Alex Rodriguez (hip) went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer Monday in a rehab game with Double-A Trenton. It was his first home run during his rehab stint … Freddie Freeman (thumb) hopes to return to the Braves' lineup Friday … Clay Buchholz (shoulder) felt soreness after a bullpen session Sunday and will be reevaluated after the All-Star break … Curtis Granderson (finger) said Monday that he's optimistic he can return by the end of the month … Ben Revere will undergo surgery on his fractured right foot Tuesday and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks … Jake Peavy (rib) tossed five innings of one-run ball Sunday in a rehab start with Double-A Birmingham and hopes to rejoin the White Sox rotation this weekend against the Braves … Chris Carpenter (shoulder) allowed three runs on six hits and two walks over 2 2/3 innings Monday in his first rehab start with Double-A Springfield, but reportedly touched 95 mph on the radar gun … Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has been cleared by the U.S. government and is free to sign with an MLB team …