Eight of Major League Baseball’s most powerful sluggers will attempt to make one of the league’s most pitcher-friendly environments a home run habitat Monday night.
Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, will house the 2016 Home Run Derby, which will feature Todd Frazier defending his crown after a memorable 2015 event in Cincinnati. The ballpark isn’t known as a haven for offense, but the chosen field of participants looks capable of flipping the script.
The derby bracket released last week shows some intriguing first-round matchups and some even more intriguing potential head-to-head showdowns later on in the competition.
Let’s go through round by round and make predictions based on what we know about each player involved. Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is the favorite to win this year’s event, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Mark Trumbo, Baltimore Orioles (1) vs. Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (8)
Seager is one of baseball’s most exciting young players, and with 17 home runs this season, he’s no slouch when it comes to providing power. Trumbo, meanwhile, leads the majors with 28 bombs and is a home run waiting to happen despite some flaws in his all-around game. We’re a bit hesitant to go against a heavy first-round favorite, but Seager’s smooth swing should serve him well in the new timed format. Thus, we’re calling an upset right out of the gate.
Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners (4) vs. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (5)
Cano is a former derby champion, having won the 2011 competition at Chase Field in Arizona. The easy-swinging second baseman had some trouble in 2012 and 2013, though. And Stanton has been launching balls all over the place lately after a slow start to this season.
Adam Duvall, Cincinnati Reds (3) vs. Wil Myers, San Diego Padres (6)
There’s more pressure on Myers than anyone in this competition given that he’s the hometown guy. He could harness the ballpark’s energy and use it to his advantage like Frazier did last season in Cincinnati while playing for the Reds, or he could crumble like Twins second baseman Brian Dozier did two years ago in Minnesota. Since Padres fans have been used to disappointment this season, we’ll assume that keeps up Monday night and Duvall puts a damper on San Diego’s party.
Todd Frazier, Chicago White Sox (2) vs. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (7)
Gonzalez’s knack for long home runs could be a factor, as participants are awarded bonus time based on certain distance achievements. But Frazier’s track record — a title last year and a runner-up finish in 2014 — is as strong as he is. Give us the champ in Round 1.
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (5) vs. Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (8)
Sorry, Cinderella. Time’s up. Seager could keep things interesting, but Stanton’s Herculean power will be enough to overmatch the Dodgers rookie en route to the finals.
Todd Frazier, Chicago White Sox (2) vs. Adam Duvall, Cincinnati Reds (3)
Duvall has come out of nowhere this season at age 27, so him winning the Home Run Derby would be a cool story, especially if it involved defeating a former Reds teammate who happens to be the defending champ. We just don’t see it happening.
Todd Frazier, Chicago White Sox (2) vs. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (5)
There’s been two back-to-back champions in the history of the Home Run Derby: Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Cespedes (2013-14). After Monday’s slugfest, there will be three. Down goes Stanton in the final round.
Winner: Frazier (champion)
Thumbnail photo viaÂ David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports Images