Kruk, Guillen make predictions for Home Run Derby
Commentators choose Miami's Stanton as early favorite, discuss Derby rule change
Remember the 2008 Home Run Derby, when Josh Hamilton hit -- gosh -- how many first-round homers was it?
"Nine thousand," John Kruk said.
Well, OK, it wasn't 9,000. More like 28, which is still amazing.
But do you remember who won that Derby?
Home Run Derby participants
|RF||Jose Bautista, TOR (Captain)|
|3B||Josh Donaldson, OAK|
|2B||Brian Dozier, MIN|
|CF||Adam Jones, BAL|
|LF||Yoenis Cespedes, OAK*||National League|
|SS||Troy Tulowitzki, COL (Captain)|
|3B||Todd Frazier, CIN|
|1B||Justin Morneau, COL|
|RF||Yasiel Puig, LAD|
|RF||Giancarlo Stanton, MIA|
"Justin Morneau won the Derby, and no one knows it," Kruk said. "Josh looked like he got fatigued at the end, and the more home runs you hit, your pitcher gets fatigued, too. That can be an issue."
It's an issue Major League Baseball seems to have resolved with the 2014 installment of the Gillette Home Run Derby, which takes place at 8 p.m. ET Monday night at Target Field and airs on ESPN and in Canada on Sportsnet, amidst the All-Star Week festivities.
A new format lessens the number of outs in the first round from 10 to seven, while also rewarding the top home run hitter from each league in the first round with a second-round bye -- a chance to rest up for the semifinals. The second round, semifinal round and final round will all also grant participants seven outs.
Kruk, who will be calling the Derby alongside Chris Berman, and Ozzie Guillen, who will be providing Spanish-language commentary on ESPN Deportes, are both in favor of the changes.
"I think you're going to have fresher guys, even though it's only possibly three less swings," Kruk said. "You'll have fresher guys filling into the second and third rounds of this thing. We saw last year a couple guys just wore themselves out."
"It's good for the fans, too," Guillen said. "The Home Run Derby, in the past, gets too long and … the quicker they do this stuff, people get into it more."
The Derby field thus far includes defending champ Yoenis Cespedes, Adam Jones, Brian Dozier and team captain Jose Bautista in the American League. For the National League, Giancarlo Stanton, Yasiel Puig and Todd Frazier will be led by NL captain Troy Tulowitzki. The last participant from each league was expected to be announced Thursday.
While Cespedes has his eyes on becoming the first back-to-back Derby winner since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998-99, neither Kruk nor Guillen were shy about revealing the player their eyes will gravitate toward.
"Giancarlo Stanton," Kruk said without hesitation.
Said Guillen, who briefly managed Stanton with the Marlins: "I don't want to know how many Giancarlo's going to hit. I want to know how far he's going to hit them."
Guillen marveled at Stanton's strength and said he has never seen a player hit the ball harder.
"I saw him hit a ball in Cleveland, when I was managing the Marlins," Guillen said. "Asdrubal Cabrera was at shortstop. He tried to jump to catch the ball, but that ball was hitting the wall [in left field] before [Cabrera] even landed on his feet. [Stanton is] an amazing power hitter. Little by little, he's going to become one of the superstars in the game."
The Derby has quite a bit of superstar talent, but Kruk thought Bautista was particularly smart to add Dozier so that the hometown fans have somebody to pull for.
"A couple years ago in Arizona, Prince [Fielder] didn't pick Justin Upton, and he got booed every time he stepped to the plate," Kruk said. "Then two years ago in Kansas City, Robinson Cano didn't pick Billy Butler and got booed. Jose Bautista has been around long enough. He understands."
Because of his size, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Dozier has his work cut out for him in a Derby that demands stamina. Of course, every guy in this field has his work cut out for him, because Target Field has quickly developed a reputation for being a difficult place to go deep.
Guillen doesn't think it will matter for everybody.
"When you see Stanton and Cespedes, they can hit it to the moon if they have to," he said. "Those guys are so big and so strong, I don't think any ballpark can hold them. They're going to put on a show for the fans. That ballpark, no matter how the ball carries, I think they're going to put on an unbelievable show."
If you can't wait for the actual Derby, the MLB.com Home Run Derby mobile game is a good way to immerse yourself in the action immediately, with Target Field serving as the setting. The game is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play. New for 2014 is Multiplayer Derby Mode, Achievements and Objectives.