With baseball taking a pause for the All-Star Break in Kansas City, fellow contributor Zack Poff and I decided to have a little fun as well. Zack and I each drafted our own Home Run Derby squads. Whoever's team hits the most home runs during the Derby will have bragging rights for a year. Here are the picks and a little analysis provided by the team captains.
Robinson Cano (1st overall).
It was easy taking the defending champ first. Cano has one of the sweetest and most consistent swings in baseball and showed us he has the pop to win this derby. He has become one of the best players in the game with his consistent hitting, blending power with average. More often than not, a consistent swing triumphs over raw power in this contest. So With Cano's beautiful swing, power, and experience, I wouldn't be surprised to see a repeat victory for the Yankee second baseman.
Jose Bautista (3)
The Blue Jay outfielder has been on an absolute tear over the last 30 days. Bautista has hit 12 homers and slugged .667 over his last 30 games. From a guy that has hit 124 home runs over the last two and a half years, being in this kind of "zone" makes him a solid selection for my team. Bautista is basically a huge home run threat, and seeing as how this is a home run hitting contest, there's no reason to think Bautista can destroy the competition and win this thing easily. I expect him to have at least one huge round and assist Cano in leading my team to victory.
Giancarlo Stanton (5) (replaced by Andrew McCutchen)
The hope with this pick was that Stanton would be healthy enough to bring his Weapon of Mass Baseball Destruction (his bat) to Kansas City and hit some mammoth shots. But thanks to arthroscopic knee surgery that will sideline him for about four weeks, I get arguably the hottest hitter in baseball- not a bad trade. While McCutchen isn't a traditional home run hitter, he has 20-30 home run pop and is on absolute fire. If he can get past the first round, I'd be surprised, but I'll absolutely take his hot bat for as many homers as possible.
Carlos Beltran (7)
Here I took the fragile yet hot hitting Beltran. I don't trust Carlos Gonzalez's home run power outside of Colorado for a home run hitting contest, so I went with Beltran. He's recovered some of his old power this season, and he's dialed in at the plate. He doesn't have an overly aggressive swing; so he shouldn't be overly fatigued should he reach the later rounds. I'm hoping Beltran can contribute enough in this derby to help me win this thing.
Mark Trumbo (2) is one of the best homerun hitters in the game today. He already has 21 jacks this season, and is on pace to hit over 40 bombs this year. Trumbo is a scary threat to win the derby. He is 6'4" and 220 pounds. Let's just say he can hit the ball a long way. At age 26, the right-handed slugger will be competing in a few more derbies down the road. He should make it out of the first round with ease, and he has had success in his past. He won the Double-A Texas League Derby in 2009 and will look to add to his collection on Monday night.
Prince Fielder (4) knows how to hit the cover off the ball. He won the derby in 2009 and is competing in his fourth career homerun derby. Fielder's swing is tailor made for the derby. Let's just say Fielder doesn't try to hit singles the opposite way. His uppercut swing is fun to watch. He tries to murder the ball, and he has a good chance to win his second career derby on Monday. A fun fact to know is Fielder announced Sandy Guerrero will be throwing to him, the same guy that did in 2009 when Fielder won in St. Louis.
Matt Kemp (6) was playing better than anybody in the game before his nagging hamstring injury sidelined him. Kemp has 12 bombs in 121 at-bats this season. Pretty good numbers when you are averaging a homerun every 10 plate appearances. Despite Kemp being out since May 30th, he has been participating in batting practice for nearly a month now. He shouldn't be as rusty as a lot of people think. Kemp has been one of the best power hitters in the game over the last three seasons. His 39 homeruns led the National League last year, and before his injury, his 12 homeruns were tops in the NL.
Carlos Gonzalez (8) was the last pick in our draft. Not a bad eighth guy. Cargo is one of the best all around players in the game and his pop gets overlooked at times. He has hit 77 long balls since the start of the 2010 season. He has one of the best swings in the game and his smooth cut should help him on Monday night. A lot of guys try and take big hacks and as the rounds advance and fatigue becomes an issue. If Cargo can sneak into the second round, watch out for him to take it. Not many people had Robinson Cano winning it last year, and Cargo could be the 2012 version of Cano.