Tag: Justin Bour

Predicting the 2017 Home Run Derby Winner

Predicting the 2017 Home Run Derby Winner

With a field including Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, Miguel Sano, and reigning Home Run Derby Champion Giancarlo Stanton, this year’s competition is shaping up to be one of the best in years.  The bracket was released early today based on the seeding selection.

The 2017 T-Mobile Home Run Derby Bracket

Each round is five minutes, with each batter having the right to a 45 second timeout whenever they choose.  Any home runs hit in the final minute stop the clock until the batter fails to hit a home run, so hot streaks late in the round are rewarded.  Bonus time can be earned for hitting two home runs over 420 feet, and one home run over 475 feet.  Any ties will be broken via a 90-second swing-off, with no timeouts or bonuses.  Another factor to keep in mind are the expansive dimensions of Marlins Park.

(1) Giancarlo Stanton vs. (8) Gary Sanchez

This one should be a slam-dunk for Stanton.  Playing in his home ballpark, Stanton will obviously be ready to go, and his unsightly power should help him hit both bonuses for an additional 90 seconds of time.  Gary Sanchez may put up a solid round, but he is no match for Stanton.

Stanton Advances

(2) Aaron Judge vs. (7) Justin Bour

The second Marlins-Yankees showdown may also seem like it has an obvious winner, but in reality, this could go either way.  Judge may have the strength to hit both bonuses and some balls over the statue in center, but he tends to hit a lot of his home runs to the middle of the field.  In the past, sluggers who don’t pull the ball in the Derby have been less successful than players like Todd Frazier and Stanton, who hit nearly all of their home runs to left field.  Bour also has the advantage of knowing Marlins Park better, but Judge should still find a way to win given his monsterous strength.

Judge Advances

(3) Cody Bellinger vs. (6) Charlie Blackmon

With all due respect to Charlie Blackmon, the National League’s best lead-off hitter, Bellinger is going to run away with this match-up.  Bellinger’s long, lofty swing is catered to the Home Run Derby, and his tendency to pull the ball out to right field should benefit him throughout the night.

Bellinger Advances 

(4) Mike Moustakas vs. (5) Miguel Sano

If Miguel Sano played in Yankee Stadium instead of Target Field, this guy would be getting Judge-like praise.  He might have more power than anyone else in this field, and his home run into the Fountain Bar in Kansas City is proof of it.  Moustakas will keep it close, but Sano’s ability to hit some tape-measure shots will allow him to move on.

Sano Advances 

SEMIFINALS: (1) Giancarlo Stanton vs. (5) Miguel Sano

If Sano instead was facing Bellinger or Judge here, I’d have him advancing to the finals.  His power is legitimate, but with Stanton being well-rested at this point in the tournament and trying to impress his home fans, Sano has slim-to-none odds of moving on to the finals.

Stanton Advances

SEMIFINALS: (2) Aaron Judge vs. (3) Cody Bellinger

Assuming my predictions come true, this should be the most anticipated showdown of the Home Run Derby.  On one hand, you have Yankees’ superstar Aaron Judge, who has been the biggest story in baseball this year.  On the other hand, you have the second-biggest sensation in the game, Cody Bellinger, who has hit 24 home runs since his call-up on April 25th.  Both have insane power and potency.  I predict this will go to a swing-off, which will also end in a tie, leading to a second swing-off.  Bellinger will finally beat Judge in that tiebreaker, making for an exhilarating finish to the semifinals.

Bellinger Advances

FINALS: (1) Giancarlo Stanton vs. (3) Cody Bellinger

Beating Judge should take everything Bellinger has, and his long swing could tire him out, especially if he makes it this far.  Stanton should easily make his way to the finals, which gives him a considerable advantage.  Just as Todd Frazier did in 2015, Giancarlo Stanton will win the Home Run Derby in front of his home crowd, and become the first player to win back-to-back Home Run Derbies since Yoenis Cespedes.

GIANCARLO STANTON WINS THE 2017 T-MOBILE HOME RUN DERBY

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Tuesday Takes: July Will Bring Relief

Tuesday Takes: July Will Bring Relief

As baseball speeds towards the summer, the trade market is sure to heat up, and plenty of closers may be on the move.  Some big-time bats are heating up as well, but some hitters can’t seem to break their cold spells.  Are they just in a mild slump, or is there a major issue?  Albert Pujols blasted his 600th home run on Saturday, but where does he rank among the greatest right-handed hitters ever?  Also, I spotlight three deserving N.L. All-Stars who will probably be snubbed from the Mid-Summer Classic.

It’s Not How You Start; It’s How You… Close?

The Houston Astros have gotten off to a torrid start, and after winning their last ten games, are on pace to win 117 games, which would be the most in single-season history.  The Astros look every bit like a World Series team right now, but they lack one essential element to a championship club.  It’s not necessarily another front-line starter like Jose Quintana or Chris Archer, two players who would command a high price if traded this summer.  What Houston really needs is a shutdown closer.  Ken Giles hasn’t been bad this year, but 2016 proved he’s more of a liability than an asset as a closer.  Lucky for the Astros, there should be a plethora of solid finishers available via trade.  Kelvin Herrera, Addison Reed, Alex Colome, Tony Watson and David Robertson will likely be attainable without costing a big prospect such as Kyle Tucker.  The Nationals are in the same boat as Houston; Koda Glover may be closing now, but he won’t be in October.

Houston Hitters, Stud in the Six, and a Wild Bour on South Beach

Speaking of the Astros, their offense has been launching full-fledged bombings on outfield bleachers lately.  In the past eight games, George Springer, Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran and Alex Bregman have combined for fourteen home runs and thirty-four runs batted in.  Things are especially looking up for Bregman, who hadn’t hit a single longball until May 14th.  Since then, he’s hit six, making him another dangerous bat in an already dangerous Astros lineup.

Josh Donaldson has caught fire since returning from the Disabled List.  The former MVP has blasted four home runs since May 26th, helping power Toronto back into the American League East.  Despite his surge that has powered the Jays, Toronto won’t get into the playoffs without some type of impact move in July.

Justin Bour has been an absolute terror for opposing pitchers as of late.  Bour is hitting .450 in his past seven games with three home runs and a 1.500 OPS.  The Marlins have really struggled in 2017, but the slugging first baseman has had nothing to do with their losing record.  If Bour keeps hitting at this pace, the Miami Marlins would be foolish not to capitalize and trade him for a nice haul at the trade deadline.

Abreu, Schwarber Slumping

Some hitters have really failed to produce as of late, especially Jose Abreu.  Then former Rookie of the Year is just 2 for his last 23, posting a horrendous .087 slugging percentage.  His struggles are part of the reason the White Sox have dropped their last five games.  While the slump is concerning, Abreu got off to a rough start back in April only to rebound nicely, so the Cuban slugger is likely to return to form in the near future.

Kyle Schwarber may have a bigger issue on his hands.  Schwarber is hitting .073 since May 19th.  Cubs skipper Joe Maddon recently discussed making Schwarber a platoon player, and for good reason.  He only has one home run against lefties in 36 games this year.  Schwarber’s awful season is a real reason for concern.  He proved he could quickly adapt when he was called up in 2015, but he has yet to make any significant adjustments this year.

The Machine Gets 600

Congratulations to Albert Pujols on hitting his 600th home run this weekend in Anaheim, and a grand slam to boot.  A surefire Future Hall of Famer, Pujols has defined longevity since his debut in 2001.  The 37 year-old has fourteen seasons where he hit at least thirty home runs, while also hitting for a career .308 average.  He’s surely an all-time legendary hitter, but is he the greatest right-handed hitter ever?  Here’s my list.

5. Alex Rodriguez- Say what you want about him.  The guy was a great hitter.

4. Hank Aaron- All-time HR King, but his 162 game average wasn’t better than Albert’s.

3. Willie Mays- My vote for the greatest player ever, Mays wasn’t nearly as good of a pure hitter that Pujols is.  Better all-around player, but not hitter.

2. Albert Pujols- The Machine has slowed down in recent years, but he’s showed he can stay healthy.  He should pass Mays in home runs and maybe even get to 700 by 2020.

1. Jimmie Foxx- 534 home runs, career .325 hitter with an OPS over 1.000.  Foxx had nine years where he hit over .330!  Throw in twelve seasons of 30 or more homers, and Foxx is the best right-handed hitter of all-time.

All-Stars From Afar

There are three players in the National League who totally deserve to make the All-Star Team, but their odds are slim to none.

Joey Votto

It’s insane that Votto is only a four-time all-star considering he’s a career .300 hitter, but that’s a testament to how many good first basemen play in the Senior Circuit, and also how bad the Reds have been over the past few years.  Votto is putting together another stellar season, hitting fourteen homers and posting a .985 OPS.  His WAR is 2.4 according to Baseball Reference, which puts him just outside the top five in the National League among position players.  But with his low voting total and shortstop Zack Cozart likely to grab the designated spot for the Reds, Votto will probably be watching the game instead of playing in it.

Justin Bour

Like Votto, Bour will suffer from playing on a poor team and playing at a position loaded with all-stars.  Bour leads the National League with sixteen home runs and his .589 slugging percentage ranks eighth.  Bour has also showed an ability to hit for a higher average than he has in the past, hitting .295 so far in 2017.  Bour is overshadowed by Giancarlo Stanton, who is having a fine season in his own right, but that’s no excuse for the 29 year-old to be passed over for the All-Star Game.

Robbie Ray

Ray has always flashed incredible potential, and he’s lived up to it in 2017.  Ray has a 3.00 ERA in eleven starts.  He’s been dominating opposing hitters, striking out 84 in just 69 innings.  Ray also is one of only six N.L. starters to throw a shutout this season, further proving his dominance.  However, he may very well be skipped over by Joe Maddon when pitchers are selected for the All-Star Game.  Ray’s lack of notoriety, as well as the influx of all-star worthy pitching by National League Central starters could lead to Maddon passing up the 25 year-old.