This season’s home run derby will be a bit different, featuring a head-to-head format with eight competitors. The rounds will be timed this year, and the sluggers can earn more time based on the distance of their home runs. The competition this year features young and old, ranging from young superstar Kris Bryant to an all-time great, Albert Pujols. Let’s take a brief look at each match-up before predicting a winner for tonight’s derby.
First Round Match-Ups:
Jul 12, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant hits an RBI triple during the first inning against the Chicago White Sox at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Albert Pujols vs. Kris Bryant: This is possibly the most intriguing match-up of them all, pitting young power against 500+ career home runs and a sure-to-be Hall of Famer. This is going to be a close one, and as crazy as it seems to root against Albert, it just doesn’t seem right that Kris Bryant would be out after the first round. I’ve got Bryant moving on to the second round.
Joc Pederson vs. Manny Machado: Joc Pederson is a great hitter, but he is not an overly large dude, and his homers are usually the result of a crushed line drive. Machado, on the other hand, has some serious raw power, and gives it all he has on a regular basis. I say Machado’s swing-away style will benefit him more in the Home Run Derby, and that he advances to the second round.
Josh Donaldson vs. Anthony Rizzo: Yes, Josh Donaldson has the longest home run of 2015 at 481 feet, but after many years of mediocrity, it is time for the Chicago Cubs to take the spotlight once again. Anthony Rizzo has established himself as one of the most consistent power hitters in the game, and I expect him to win this match-up behind a late round push.
Todd Frazier vs. Prince Fielder: It’s too bad that the home-town hero has to be matched against one of the greatest Home Run Derby hitters of all-time, because he doesn’t have a chance. Prince Fielder hits dingers like they are going out of style, especially when he gets to swing as hard as he can. The only real question here is how big the welt on Prince’s back will be from hitting himself with his follow through.
Second Round Match-Ups:
Kris Bryant vs. Manny Machado: If this does turn out to be the second round match-up, boy will it be good. Two youngsters with a ridiculous amount of raw power, going at it to establish themselves as an elite power hitter. Bryant and Machado represent a new wave of young talent in the big leagues, and will be looking to put themselves atop the list of young stars coming into the league. Unfortunately for Manny Machado, I believe that Kris Bryant will take this one home, earning himself a ticket to the finals.
Jun 28, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Texas Rangers designated hitter Prince Fielder (84) hits a single against the Toronto Blue Jays in the seventh inning at Rogers Centre. Blue Jays beat Rangers 3 – 2. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
Anthony Rizzo vs. Prince Fielder: As much as everybody would love to see an all Chicago Cubs final, that just seems like a bit too juicy of a story. Let’s be honest here, Prince Fielder is going to hit a bunch of long balls, and he is going to face Kris Bryant in the finals. Don’t get me wrong though, Anthony Rizzo will put up a good fight. This should be a great semi-final matchup.
Final Round Match-Up:
Kris Bryant vs. Prince Fielder: Old vs. Young, Righty vs. Lefty, American League vs. National League. This is the final that I want to see, and this is the final that would light up the night with home run after home run. More than anything else, this would be power vs. power. The Home Run Derby is meant to be an event that people talk about long after the All-Star Break, and it seems that in the last couple of years it has lost a bit of its dazzle. Don’t worry though, this year is going to be different. I have a feeling that we are in for some drama, as Fielder is sure to give Bryant a challenge unlike any other that he will face in this derby. The kid is something special though, and I expect him to come out on top when it is all said and done. There you have it, the 2015 Home Run Derby champion will be Kris Bryant, defeating Prince Fielder in the final round.