Home Run Derby: What to expect, bracket predictions

jgoehring
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 09: Giancarlo Stanton
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 09: Giancarlo Stanton /
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Predicting each round of the Home Run Derby, baseball’s annual contest held on the Monday of the All-Star break.

The All-Star break begins Monday, giving Major League Baseball a much needed break from the regular grind. Despite the week away from the action culminating with the All-Star game between the American League and National League on Tuesday night, all eyes are fixed on the Home Run Derby on Monday.

This year’s field is once again stacked with baseball’s most powerful, featuring several young sluggers as well as some well established ones. Also this year, the competition is once again in the form of a bracket, where the eight hitters square off against one another in individual matchups, advancing from the first round to the semifinals to the finals.

Giancarlo Stanton won the derby last year thanks to one of the greatest displays of power in history. He won it last year near his hometown in Southern California, and this year he looks to defend his title in his home park.

Here are bold predictions for the derby Monday night at Marlins Park in Miami.

First round

Stanton over Sanchez: Top seeded Santon is too strong and powerful to drop the first round to Gary Sanchez. The only question here for Stanton will be how much energy he will need to spend on this first round matchup. This depends on how close Sanchez can make it.

Sano over Moustakas: The fourth seed vs. fifth seed matchup is bound to be one of the closest of the derby. The veteran Mike Moustakas has power to all fields, but the youngster from Minnesota, Miguel Sano, has more raw power evident based on his 21 bombs in his first full major league season.

Bour over Judge: The second seed vs. seventh seed matchup features quite possibly the most highly touted competitor against one of the most underrated competitors. As a result, the powerful Justin Bour has an excellent shot to pull the upset against rookie sensation Aaron Judge. Bour has a lot going for him. He has minimal pressure compared to heavily favored Judge, he is playing in his home park in Miami, and he does have 20 home runs on the year.

Bellinger over Blackmon: Cody Bellinger‘s 25 home runs are not the only reason he should roll through the first round. The rookie’s composure and resilience are what makes him most impressive, even if he is a Dodger. Nevertheless, this NL West matchup between LA’s top slugger and Charlie Blackmon should be an interesting one to watch.

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Semifinals

Stanton over Sano: Endurance and experience mean everything in a matchup like this. In both categories, give the hometown favorite the edge.

Bellinger over Bour: Bour’s magic in the first round will give the fans something to get excited about, but an all Miami final in the derby is unrealistic, at least when Bellinger is still in it.

Finals

Bellinger over Stanton: This is a matchup more than worthy of a Home Run Derby championship. Both players may be tired, but they have the endurance and the raw power to still hit 20+ in this final round. Normally, going first would be a disadvantage, but the pressure Bellinger can place on the hometown favorite may just be enough to propel him to the title. Either way, Bellinger and Stanton going head to head is sure to be a classic.

Next: The benefits and dangers of lineup shuffling

The Home Run Derby begins at 5 PM PT on Monday. Fans of all baseball teams, even those without representatives in the derby, should make sure to tune in to ESPN to catch all of the coverage.

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