2016 Home Run Derby Preview

San Diego, California will be the center of the baseball world for the next two days as baseball’s biggest stars take the field at Petco Park for the 2016 MLB All-Star festivities. Since opening its doors in 2004, Petco Park has been known as one of the most extreme “pitcher’s parks” in all of the majors. According to Parkfactors.com, only AT&T Park in San Francisco and Safeco Field in Seattle suppress runs scored more than Petco Park since 2010. However, starting in 2013, gradual changes have been made to the dimensions and layout of Petco in an attempt to make it more of a neutral park. In the 2015 season, those changes started to show. Last season, Petco finished as the tenth best park in baseball for home runs according to ESPN’s park factors and so far in 2016, Petco is right in the middle of the league at 15th for home runs, after averaging 24th out of the 30 MLB parks over the previous six seasons. With the recent spike of homers hit and a star studded field for Monday night’s Home Run Derby, I expect plenty of tape measure shots to be flying out of the yard.

The derby will continue its recent format of a one-on-one bracket. The MLB has also added a time clock for each hitter this year. The derby is entering what should be a successful run by adding modern twists to a classic exhibition. Here are the participants along with my picks:

Opening Round

#1 Seed Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles (28 homers) vs. #8 Seed Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (17 homers)

Trumbo is having a career year, having finally put all of his talents together in the first half of the season. Seager is having an amazing rookie season and is a favorite of mine, but Trumbo’s raw power will be too much for the young shortstop to handle.

Pick: Trumbo

#4 Seed Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners (21 homers) vs. #5 Seed Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (20 homers)

This is the premier first round matchup. Former Derby champ Cano still has one of the best swings in all of baseball and Stanton has possibly the best raw power. Petco favors left handed power hitters just slightly more which is enough for me to give Cano the edge in a first round matchup that is worthy of being a finals matchup later in the day.

Pick: Cano

#3 Seed Adam Duvall, Cincinnati Reds (23 homers) vs. #6 Seed Wil Myers, San Diego Padres (19 homers)

This is a matchup of two of the best stories so far of the first half of the season. Duvall has come out of nowhere and become one of the National League’s best power hitters, while Myers has finally stayed healthy and put together all the skills that once made him one of the majors top prospects. I’ll give Myers the edge in his home ballpark as his knowledge of the dimensions and the park should be enough to lift him over Duvall.

Pick: Myers

#2 Seed Todd Frazier, Chicago White Sox (25 homers) vs. #7 Seed Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (19 homers)

Frazier is back to defend his 2015 title against Gonzalez, who has the longest average home run distance (422 feet per STATCAST) of all the participants in the first half. In an underrated first round matchup, I’ll give the edge to CarGo and his left handed swing that is built for derby success.

Pick: Gonzalez

Semifinals

Cano vs. Trumbo

Cano has another matchup that is worthy of the finals against the majors’ home run leader in Trumbo. It will not be an easy task, as Cano is lined up to face the two derby favorites (based on Bravado’s odds). As an Orioles fan this hurts to say, but I just cannot bet against the 2011 Derby Champion. Trumbo shows that his current power binge is no fluke, however in the end it is not quite enough to top Cano.

Pick: Cano

Gonzalez vs. Myers

The home crowd in San Diego may have given Myers the boost he needs to get past Duvall in the first round. The good vibes can only take him so far though against Gonzalez’s superior raw power. Myers will give it all he has, but in the end it will be Gonzalez who advances to the finals against Cano.

Pick: Gonzalez

Finals

Cano vs. Gonzalez

There is a solid chance that Cano will be out of gas after facing Stanton and Trumbo in back-to-back rounds, but in a battle of possibly the two best left handed swings in baseball, I will give Cano the slight edge. At the age of 33, Cano is having one of his best starts to a season ever and his monster first half (.313 batting average, 21 homers, 58 RBI’s) will be capped off with another Home Run Derby crown.

Champion: Cano

-Randy Haines

Photo Credit: Evan Habeeb/USA Today sports

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