By Ryan Mayer, CBS Local Sports
The MLB announced over the weekend new rules for this year’s home-run derby. Instead of the old 9 outs rule, the batters are now on the clock. Also, batters can get added bonus time based on the distance of their dingers. The distance will be measured using MLB Advanced Media’s new Statcast tool which should make the whole event more fun and entertaining. I particularly like the tournament seeding aspect based on how many home runs a player has hit already this season. That should make the captains think hard about who they want representing their league in the Derby. With all of that said, I’m going to make the picks based on these new rules. Away we go.
Captain: Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels – This is easy. Though his teammate Albert Pujols leads the AL in homers with 23 (who had that before the season??) Trout isn’t far behind with 19 round trippers on the season. The kicker to that? His average home-run distance according to ESPN.com’s tracker is 409.16 feet. The longest of those flew 443 feet and he’s had 9 of his 19 home-runs travel further than 420 feet (the distance needed to pick up that added 1 minute of bonus time if you hit 2).
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays – Donaldson is in the same ballpark as Trout in both HR’s hit this season (18) and average distance (409.33). His longest homer this season was 471 feet (close to that 475 foot bonus) and he’s had 8 homers of 420 feet or longer. Plus, I’m sure he’s hungry to prove last year’s rough outing was a fluke. Great American Ballpark is much easier to hit the ball out of than Target Field.
George Springer, OF, Houston Astros – Springer hasn’t hit nearly as many bombs so far as the two previously mentioned on this team. He’s got 12 on the year. But, of those 12, 4 have been longer than 420 feet which means 1/3 of the time he’s hitting the ball at least that distance. I’m smelling a lot of bonus time here. Plus it would be good to reward one of the feel good teams of the year with a Derby representative.
Yoenis Cespedes, OF, Detroit Tigers – I can’t not include the back-to-back champion. He would have a chance to do something no player has ever done: win three in a row. He hasn’t had a great year in terms of the long ball yet with only 10, but let’s be honest. Dude turns it on when it comes to the Derby.
Captain: Todd Frazier, 3B, Cincinnati Reds – Taking care of the hometown guy and captain in one fell swoop. Look, Frazier isn’t the best distance guy (average HR= 398.4, longest= 428) but, he has 25 homers on the season and oh by the way he was the runner-up in last year’s competition. Think the Reds fans wouldn’t be behind this guy?
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies – Arenado is known for his Gold Glove defense regularly making ridiculous plays at third that few others can make. He’s done some solid yard work with the bat this season at 24 homers (avg distance= 406.33). He’s got 5 homers of 420 feet or longer with his longest being 447 feet. Yes, I know he plays in Coors Field, a place known for being a band box. But, that being said, Great American Ballpark is a pretty hitter friendly park too. I think he’ll be fine.
Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals – Let the Harper haters begin to complain. Look, here’s the deal. The kid’s hit 24 dingers this season, averages longer than 400 feet and his longest was 452 feet. Can you imagine a Trout vs. Harper final? Arguably the two most marketable young stars in the game?
Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers – With Giancarlo Stanton breaking his hand over the weekend (sad face emoji) he won’t be able to participate in the Derby. That said for as mighty as Giancarlo is, he hasn’t had the highest average distance for homers in the NL. That honor belongs to this young man (no I’m not counting Uggla’s 1 HR, Corey Hart’s 2, or Sydegaard’s 1 – stop it) at 428.9 feet. That’s right he averages longer than the necessary distance to get bonus time. To quote the great Jason Siegel from Bad Teacher “That’s the only argument I need Sean!”
So, that would be my field. In case you’re wondering what the seeding and set-up would look like. It’s as follows:
#1 Todd Frazier (25 HR)
#8 Yoenis Cespedes (10 HR)
First round match-up from last year’s final. This worked out well.
#4 Mike Trout (19 HR)
#5 Joc Pederson (19 HR)
The two youngsters from LA teams, I like it. I like it a lot.
#2 Nolan Arenado (24 HR)
#7 George Springer (12 HR)
#3 Bryce Harper (24 HR)
#6 Josh Donaldson (18 HR)
The lefty righty match-up here could be a lot of fun. The thing I like most about this set-up? We leave open the possibility of Trout vs. Harper in the final. Awesome.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him. Agree/Disagree? Thoughts, comments, complaints? Email him.