Tonight is the 2010 All-Star Home Run Derby. I like this competition, because it's about doing one thing, and doing it well: hitting the ball really damn hard.
The first home run derby was played in the Giant Inflatable Toilet, known to us Minnesotans as The Metrodome:
and our own Ryne Sandberg hit a grand total of two homers. The AL beat the NL in the inaugural year of 1985, 17-16. Rules have fluctuated year to year, including two rounds or "innings", five outs versus ten outs, carry-over rounds versus resetting scores, as well as the number of contestants. If there's one thing MLB does well, it's being ambiguous and having no sense of direction (for further reading, see: MLB media expansion, blackout rules, replay).
Two years ago Josh Hamilton hit 28 homers in the first round, but failed to win the crown as more silly rules handed Justin Morneau the title. Last year, Prince Fielder won because he can eat a lot. And some times he imagines CC Sabathia as a hamburger.
Other times Prince has nearly died from running too far. Perhaps we should go back to the days of five outs, or only two rounds? That would help with the so-called "fatigue" factor, and keep it quick and interesting for fans. I've included homers, OPS, and flyball percentage. Angel Stadium of Anaheim is 25th overall in park factors, and 20th in HR, so it may be a bit harder to hit here than last year's Busch Stadium. Anyway, onward to tonight's contestants:
***22 HR, 1.074 OPS, 39.9% FB
***18 HR, .945 OPS, 47.8% FB
***15 HR, .901 OPS, 45.9% FB
***19 HR, .844 OPS, 39.0% FB
***21 HR, .918 OPS, 47.5% FB
***16 HR, .902 OPS, 39.6% FB
***13 HR, .865 OPS, 30.7% FB
Chris Young – Arizona Diamondbacks
***15 HR, .798 OPS, 48.8% FB
Odds have 5/2 favorites for Cabrera and Ortiz, with Holliday and Swish 5/1 odds. Hart and Wells are next (13/2), followed by Young and Hanley (8/1). I'm not really sure why Chris Young is in this derby; he broke spring training not even sure if he'd make the team. Vernon Wells used to look like the worst contract in baseball, now I think the Cubs own 2-3 of those. My money? It's on Ortiz and Hart. And here's MLB's stats on the derby, if you're interested.
PS - Also, this: