Home Run Derby previewDate: July 4, 2019
By: Ben Harris
The MLB All-Star break will kick off in Cleveland, Ohio at Progressive Field this Sunday with many fan-oriented events such as the Celebrity Game and the Futures Game. But the most popular sideshow in sports, the 2019 T-Mobile Home Run Derby will take place Monday night at 8 PM.
This past Tuesday, the competitors were announced, and the field was set. Here is a preview of the sluggers you will see swinging for the fences Monday night in Progressive Field.
(1) Christian Yelich:
Team- Milwaukee Brewers
Stats- 31 home runs, .713 SLG, longest home run of 2019: 462.24 feet versus the Cincinnati Reds.
Matchup- Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
As the reigning National League MVP, Yelich is the headliner in this year's derby. With 2018 derby champ Bryce Harper declining to defend his crown, Yelich is easily the slugger with the most star power here. Yelich is currently leading the major leagues with 31 bombs, which is incredible for him, considering he only hit 36 last year when he won MVP.
He is a dangerous deep threat, but still could get overtaken by Guerrero Jr. in round one based on nothing but potential. Yelich is slated with the second-best odds to win, currently sitting at plus 425, according to The Action Network.
(8) Guerrero Jr.:
Team- Toronto Blue Jays
Stats- eight home runs, .416 SLG, longest home run of 2019: 438.37 feet versus San Francisco Giants.
Guerrero Jr. is definitely the wild card in this competition. There is a ton of hype surrounding the 20-year-old rookie, but whether it is justified is a different question. The top prospect coming into this season, Guerrero was called up from the Buffalo Bisons in late April. He has made a huge impression on the Toronto baseball atmosphere, bringing excitement with his own play, and nostalgia of his legendary father.
But with Guerrero being so new to the pros, no one knows how powerful he really is. He has the least home runs out of the eight competitors, but simultaneously, the most potential to surprise and shock everyone watching. Guerrero Jr. is tied for the third-best odds to win, sitting at plus 450, according to The Action Network.
(2) Pete Alonso:
Team- New York Mets
Stats- 28 home runs, .623 SLG, longest home run of 2019: 457.95 feet versus the St. Louis Cardinals.
Matchup- Carlos Santana
Alonso is another rookie with a ton of potential. Being one of the few bright spots on the Mets this season, Alonso has been a lot of fun to watch. He has the third most home runs in the MLB and is among the favorites to win the NL Rookie of the Year award.
Mets fans are pulling for their young star, as this will unfortunately be the highlight of their season. Alonso is tied with the other rookie, Guerrero Jr. at plus 450 for the third-best odds to win, according to The Action Network.
Team- Cleveland Indians
Stats- 19 home runs, .543 SLG, longest home run of 2019: 426.29 feet versus the Baltimore Orioles.
Santana is a world-famous guitarist whose song with Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty, "Smooth", is the second-highest charting single of all time. Wait… wrong Santana. This Santana is a big bat from the All-Star host Cleveland Indians. Santana is having a solid year at the plate and is very capable, but many see him as just the hometown representative.
But sometimes, like in Cincinnati with Todd Frazier a few years back, the hometown representative comes out of nowhere and wins it all. Indians fans are hoping the same for their 33-year-old power hitter. His odds to win are the sixth best at plus 950, according to The Action Network.
(3) Josh Bell:
Team- Pittsburgh Pirates
Stats- 26 home runs, .660 SLG, longest home run of 2019: 473.87 feet versus the Cincinnati Reds
Matchup- Ronald Acuña Jr.
Bell is nothing but a twenty-six-year-old hitting machine. He just has that "It" factor at the plate that every clubs wants on their roster, and every player wishes they had. He was also named to this year's All-Star roster as a reserve.
It is Bell's first time being named an All-Star and most likely will not be the last. He is first in the majors with a whopping 80 RBI and is in fourth in the NL with 26 homers. The man can swing, and that is for sure. Bell is currently the favorite to win the derby with plus 265 odds, according to The Action Network.
(6) Acuña Jr.:
Team- Atlanta Braves
Stats- 20 home runs, .506 SLG, longest home run of 2019: 466 feet versus the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Acuña is in his second year in the majors and has become one of a handful of young studs the Atlanta Braves are building their core around. The 2018 NL Rookie of the Year is a force at the plate and is having a solid sophomore season. He is a five-tool outfielder who just has a knack for making contact with the ball.
Whether he will have enough power behind all that contact to win the derby is a different question. Though he is an unbelievable young talent, many experts believe Acuña is not a hitter meant for the repetitive, power-focused competition. Acuña currently has the lowest odds to win the derby at plus 1300, according to The Action Network.
(4) Alex Bregman:
Team- Houston Astros
Stats- 23 home runs, .541 SLG, longest home run of 2019: 440 feet versus the Texas Rangers
Matchup- Joc Pederson
Bregman is a great player, do not get it wrong, but he is simply not a true power hitter. He is a great hitter, but not a power hitter. Bregman has some of the lowest exit velocity and average distance statistics on his long ball out of all the competitors. He hits most of his home runs in-game due to making great contact on hard fastballs and slow changeups.
He also plays his home games at Minute Maid Park, where left field is only 315 feet. The righty has the home run numbers he has because he pulls the ball to left on most of his homers. Again, he is not a bad hitter at all, but Bregman may not have derby-type power. He has the seventh-best odds to win, sitting at plus 1150, according to The Action Network.
Team- Los Angeles Dodgers
Stats- 20 home runs, .534 SLG, longest home run of 2019: 445.4 feet versus the Philadelphia Phillies.
Pederson is a terrific young slugger who along with Bregman, has participated in a previous year's Home Run Derby. Pederson made it to the finals in the 2015 derby where he lost to Todd Frazier of the Reds.
The Dodgers’ lefty slugger will attempt to redeem his runner-up performance and take home the $1 million reward this time around. He is a very capable hitter who loves to see a ball on the inside corners, hitting nine of his home runs in 2019 from those areas of the strike zone. Pederson has the fifth-best odds to win, sitting at plus 900, according to The Action Network.
Ben Harris can be reached at email@example.com.