Who I’d Like to See in the 2016 Home Run Derby

The 2016 MLB Home Run Derby is exactly one month away, and I’m already excited. Although the official All-Star game is the must-see event in the mind of many baseball fans of what has become a three-day spectacle, for me, the Home Run Derby is the most thrilling of all the events.

With the rules of the derby being changed last year back to just eight players, and with hitters going up against a clock instead of ten outs, many baseball fans had a negative reaction to the change, but I truly liked it. I feel that it made things more fun to watch overall, and should do so again this time around. This year, the derby is taking place at Petco Park in San Diego. Not known as a hitters’ park, it should be interesting to see how the derby goes, but the players I chose each have no trouble hitting a ball out of any ballpark.

I picked my players based on four specific chriteria per league: I chose the current league leader, a rookie, an under-the-radar power hitter, and a personal selection. By choosing guys with a lot of power, but also by selecting a wide range of players, I think the players I went with for the American League and National League would make for a fantastic 2016 Home Run Derby.

American League

Mark Trumbo: After having a somewhat subpar season by his standards in 2015, Trumbo has exploded back onto the scene this season, becoming the first player to reach the 20-homer mark in early June. Having the most home runs in the American League, in addition to his tremendous power and ability to hit numerous blasts, Trumbo was the easiest pick of the American League half of things.

Nomar Mazara: This time last year, the majority of baseball fans had never even heard of Nomar Mazara. However, more and more fans are hearing of him now. Mazara holds unbelievable power, and should have the platform to show it off at the home run derby this year. Being a rookie, it would certainly bring interest into the derby, as fans look to see how the young star-in-the-making fares.

Khris Davis: Baltimore’s Chris Davis has been known for his power for quite some time now, but the Athletics’ own Khris Davis (with a ‘K’) isn’t far behind in that department. Originally a member of the Brewers, Davis has been on a tear ever since switching teams, and has shown off his power on numerous occasions this season. I feel that he needs to be one of the players in the derby this year.

Nelson Cruz: There are a lot of different ways this pick could have gone, and I spent a great amount of time debating it in my mind, but I wound up landing on Cruz. Known simply as the ‘Boomstick’, Cruz carries a ton of power in his bat, and would be some major competition for the National League side to compete with. Playing his home games at Safeco Field, Cruz is used to hitting at pitcher-friendly parks, and would do well at Petco.

National League

Nolan Arenado: There’s no doubt that Arenado has power to burn, tying for the most homers in all of baseball last season with 42, and well on his way to reaching that mark yet again. By playing in Colorado, Arenado doesn’t get the attention that he would if he were to be playing in a larger market, but he’s leading the National League in homers yet again and it would be a disservice to the event if Arenado didn’t participate.

Corey Seager: When Corey Seager came up at the final portion of last season and put on a hitting show, you could immediately tell that all of the hype was warranted, which hasn’t always been the case historically. This season, he’s done nothing but improve upon that hype, in this still his rookie year. Having a three-homer game earlier this season, the power is definitely there for Seager, and I think he’d do well in the derby.

Wil Myers: Injuries have plagued Myers over the course of his career, but without putting a jinx on him, it looks like Myers in on the verge of a major breakout season. Although he was once a consensus top-five prospect, I don’t feel he’s getting the attention he deserves. The derby would allow for that, in addition to his participation giving the hometown fans someone to root for, like Todd Frazier in Cincinnati last year.

Yoenis Cespedes: A home run derby without Cespedes just wouldn’t be the same after seeing what he’s capable of in previous derby spectacles. For that reason, I chose him as my fourth pick to take part in the derby. While Cespedes has struggled at time this season following a red hot start, he has the ability to put on an absolute show for both number of homers and distance in which he hits them, making him worthy of selection.

So, those are my picks for who I’d like to see in the 2016 Home Run Derby down at Petco Park on July 11th. Odds are that not all of them will be selected, but I truly hoped the majority of them are in the derby. It would make the Home Run Derby very exciting to watch, in my opinion.

Brewers Still Surprising Many With Formidable Play

It was a rather intriguing story line when the Brewers were leading the National League central division after the first full month of the season. It was somewhat of an impressive feat when they were still leading the division after the first two months had passed. But now that we’re just a couple of weeks away from the All-Star break and the Brewers are still on top, it’s beginning to become one of the most discussed topics in all of baseball.

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Predicted by many to do poorly this season (I had them finishing fourth), with the seemingly average team the Brewers have and the difficult division in which they play, the fact that the Brewers currently sit 5.5 games ahead of the second place Cardinals is incredible — especially after the Cardinals won the division fairly easily last year, with the Brewers ending up 23 games back.

But while most of the baseball world counted out the Brewers for 2014, their players felt they had just as good of a shot as anyone, which is proving to be true. “We felt good about our situation,” said Brewers’ second baseman, Rickie Weeks, on Thursday. “Obviously, a lot of the media didn’t. That’s one of the things that keeps us together in this clubhouse.”

Having achieved the most wins in all of baseball (only the Athletics have a better winning percentage), and holding the largest division lead of any other team over the second place opponent, the Brewers making the playoffs is no longer a long shot as it appeared to be at the beginning of the year. It has now become a really good possibility.

Off to the best start halfway through the season (81 games) in their franchise’s history, the Brewers not only have momentum on their side, they also have statistics. Since the Wild Card was introduced in 1995, 69 percent of teams (82 out of 118) in first place at the halfway point have made the playoffs, with 61 percent (72 out of 118) holding on to win their division.

One of the biggest reasons for the surprising performance by the Brewers as a whole has been their consistent game play by their individual players. Jonathan Lucroy, one of the game’s most underrated catchers, has done a fantastic job both defensively behind the plate as well as offensively. And despite a slightly down season for Ryan Braun (he’s still making a good contribution), Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez, and Scooter Gennett are all doing their share, with Khris Davis and Mark Reynolds providing a good deal of power, regardless of their low batting averages.

On the pitching side of things, Kyle Lohse has really stepped up his game this year, doing a great job of giving the Brewers opportunities to win ballgames, and with the exception of a couple of rough starts, Yovani Gallardo has been a valuable asset as well. With a closer like Francisco Rodriguez, who currently leads baseball in saves, coming on in the ninth inning to shut down games, the Brewers have a really solid team no matter how you look at it.

With just 14 games remaining until the All-Star break, the Brewers find themselves on the verge of making some more history by surpassing the old franchise record of 54 wins at the break. That would certainly be an amazing feat. But I’m sure the majority of the Brewers would tell you, having made the World Series just once back in 1982 (they lost), their main focus is on making it deep into October.