The 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby may have one of the most interesting fields in quite some time. With guys who profile as big time power hitters, to those smaller in stature, the field is diverse. With the venue set as Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins, participants are going to be welcomed to a park that truly plays big.
In looking at how the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby may play out, let’s first take a look at the field. First and foremost, the one guy who sticks out as being unlike the rest, the Minnesota Twins own, Brian Dozier. Dozier is a line drive hitter, with a strong stroke, and can drive the ball solidly to left field. He is a pull hitter, and in Target Field, he is going to need to wear out the left field bleachers to have a chance.
On the other end of the spectrum, Giancarlo Stanton and Yoenis Cespedes truly project as the two guys with the ability to launch baseballs to the moon. Whether it’s Stanton driving a ball out of the park in a matter of seconds, or Cespedes hitting a ball so high it looks like it may never come down, these two are prolific home run hitters.
In between the two ends of the spectrum lie a very competitive and close-knit field. Justin Morneau, one of the last participants added to the 2014 Home Run Derby, has the advantage of having played in Target Field consistently. Also having been a past winner of the event, he will have a strategy in place.
Troy Tulowitzki has gone on an absolute tear to start the season and has to be one of the front-runners for the NL MVP voting after the half way point. As a consistent home run hitter throughout his career, he may not go as deep as some of the rest of the field, but you can bet he will lose plenty of balls throughout the Target Field seats.
Jose Bautista is an interesting name to watch. Baustista has more home runs at Target Field as a visitor, than anyone else in the Major Leagues. Bautista terrorizes Minnesota Twins pitching at Target Field, and while Kevin Correia or Ricky Nolasco won’t be serving up meatballs to him, Bautista will likely put on a show.
For the American League team, two dark horses will be represented by Adam Jones and Josh Donaldson. Jones has grown throughout his career with the Baltimore Orioles to be more of a home run hitter. Overshadowed by the likes of Chris Davis and Nelson Cruz, Jones is plenty capable of flexing his own power.
Like Jones, Donaldson may get lost behind the likes of Cespedes and Brandon Moss on the Oakland Athletics. With 19 home runs, and on pace for a new career high, he will show Home Run Derby fans why he deserved to be the last man offered a spot in the field.
Rounding out the National League 2014 Home Run Derby Participants, Todd Frazier and Yasiel Puig represent two different approaches at the plate. Frazier has been a revelation for the Reds, holding down third base, hitting for an average for the first time in his career, and looking to set a new career high in home runs. Frazier no doubt has the ability to bring the long ball.
Unlike Frazier, Puig is the stereotypical home run hitter. A big, strong body, with tree trunks for arms, Puig makes bat flipping look like little more than tossing a toothpick. If there was ever an event for Yasiel Puig to showcase his personality and let his talent shine, it’s Monday night at Target Field in the 2014 Home Run Derby.
Looking at the field as a whole, left field at Target Field will be a busy place come Monday night. Of the 10 participants in the Home Run Derby, only Justin Morneau bats from the right side of the plate. Also of note, with the forecast calling for some potential showers on Monday, Target Field will play even bigger than normal.
It wouldn’t be a break down of the event if I didn’t go out on a limb with a prediction. With the new bracketed formula, picking specific home run totals means very little, so I will go with a matchup and overall winner.
From the National League, Yasiel Puig and Giancarlo Stanton may seem to daunting to overcome, but we have seen that a consistent approach wins this contest (ask Justin Morneau how he beat Josh Hamilton in 2008). I think Tulowitzki puts together a strong contest and finds himself battling the American League champion.
On the American League side, watch for Brian Dozier to raise some eyebrows, but I’m not that gutsy to take him bringing it home. I think the last man in, Donaldson, continues right where he left off in the first half, and matches up with Tulowitzki in the final. With a Donaldson and Tulowitzki championship, the shortstop from the Rockies I believe will prove to be too much for the Athletics third basemen, and Troy Tulowitzki will be your 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby champion.
Tune in Monday night at 7pm central time on ESPN to make sure you don’t miss a minute of the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby action, live from Target Field.