We now have the full rosters for both the American League and National League Sate Farm Home Run Derby teams. I have to say, I really like this new format. Pitting the two leagues against each other will make for a more interesting camaraderie on the field. Too often we would see the pressure get to one guy, or see an individual (re: Josh Hamilton) be so focused on individual success that he would wear down before the end of the competition. With the new League vs. League format, each team will have a chance to work together and root for one another. I'm looking forward to it.
Also, I love the new selection process where one guy picks his teammates. Obviously, you see a little bias, but overall I think it's fun. We get a kind of sneak peek into the minds of some of the best home run hitters in the League, and get to find out who among their peers they respect enough to select them for the Derby.
Here are the rosters.
David Ortiz (Captain)
Prince Fielder (Captain)
Breaking down the AL team, you notice that there is an AL East bias to Captain Papi's selections. These are the guys he sees most often, so it would make sense that he has a better understanding of how they will fare in the competition. The selection of Bautista is an obvious one. The guy is leading the world in home runs and should do very well at Chase Field. The other two picks are a bit befuddling. If Ortiz was going to pick a Yankee, I'm sort of surprised he didn't go with Curtis Granderson. Grandy has been lighting it up in the power department in 2011, and that sweet, left-handed swing would play very well in Phoenix. As for Papi's teammate A-Gon, I'm not sure if he has the type of swing to do well in the Derby. Adrian is one of the best hitters in the League, but I'm not sure if he is the kind of prolific home run hitter we usually see take the Derby. Obviously taking batting practice with him everyday makes Ortiz a little more qualified to make that call, so I'll reserve judgement. And El Capitan himself won this tournament a year ago, so we're well aware of his unique talents.
Overall, a solid squad. And with three of the four guys being left-handed, I'm hoping this is a team that sends a few dingers our way in right center. My goal during the Derby is to leap into the Chase Field pool while catching a home run ball. This is the team that could make that dream a reality.
When looking at the National League, you notice that Prince made himself the sole lefty. I think this lineup may have more raw power than the AL team, but just a bit. I love the selection of Kemp. The guy has been baseball's best all-around player this season and is in the hunt for a Triple Crown. I expect big things from him on Monday night. Weeks, who is a teammate of Fielder in Milwaukee, has surprising power and could be the kind of guy who sneaks up on everyone. Holliday is an absolute monster and should put up very good numbers. And Prince, the 2009 HRD Champion, is renowned for his gargantuan blasts.
All in all, this Derby has the makings of a great competition. Who do you think will hit the most home runs on Monday? Which team is your money on? Tweet me @rwags614 and let me know!