2008 Home Run Derby Preview

July 14, 2008

Confrimed Particiapants:

Right Handed Batters

Ryan Braun
Dan Uggla
Evan Longoria

Left Handed Batters

Chase Utley
Josh Hamilton
Justin Morneau
Grady Sizemore

Switch Hitter

Lance Berkman

I think it would be safe to give the edge to a left handed hitter with the short porch at Yankee Stadium. 318 down the line is a decided advantage. With that said, it is curious to me that Lance Berkman who is a switch hitter is batting RH. So for me that eliminates Berkman, Braun, Uggla, and Longoria.

Out of the four left handed batters remaining only one (Morneau) has ever hit a HR at Yankee Stadium. Utley is third in the NL, while Grady Sizemore leads the AL.

All remianing players have hit most of their HRs while their team was tied or losing, meaning that they respond well to pressure (Utley 18 of 25, Hamilton 14 of 21, Morneau 10 of 14, Sizemore 15 of 23). The variable to this is who bats behind them or who do they bat behind. Utley his ahead of Ryan Howard, and as such sees a ton of good pitches. Sizemore hits leadoff and sees a ton of fast balls to start each game, Morneau hits ahead of Jason Kubel, while Hamilton hits ahead of Milton Bradley. For the purposes of this HR Derby only…Hamilton and Morneau are making the most of their limited opportunities with the good pitches that they actually see.

So in this two man race Hamilton v. Morneau I have to go with the guy that has the most power which is Josh Hamilton. The only x-factor is that his 71 year old American Legion baseball coach is rumored to be pitching the HR Derby to him….lets hope his nerves don’t get the best of him.

This years feel good story will be told 1000 times tonight, and deservedly so. I am happy that  – for all of the guys that throw away all of their talent on drugs and alcohol – there are a few that actually overcome it and go the other way with it. Congratualtions in advance to Josh Hamilton….even if you don’t actually go on to win the HR derby, you have clearly won other things in life that are more important.