One of the highlights of the 2013 MLB All-Star festivities was getting to watch Bryce Harper in the HR Derby taking pitches from his father as he sprayed home runs around Citi Field with his mustachioed brother Bryan in the crowd cheering them both on. There are no Washington Nationals in the Derby tonight and just one in the All-Star Game tomorrow, but Giancarlo Stanton hitting BP fastballs out of Target Field should be entertaining enough to give you a reason to at least tune in and take a look.
Stanton is Federal Baseball's official pick for the 2014 Derby champ. Stanton's currently tied for the NL lead in home runs with the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki at 21, behind only the Angels' Mike Trout (22), the Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion (26), the Orioles' Nelson Cruz (28) and the surprise leader Jose Abreu (29) of the White Sox in all of Major League Baseball.
Tulowitzki and Stanton are the only two names from that list participating in the Derby, and they're both representing the NL along with the Reds' Todd Frazier, the Rockies' Justin Morneau and the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig.
MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince broke down the new rules for the (hopefully faster-paced) Derby this afternoon:
"Each round will grant participants seven outs. Six guys will advance out of the first round (the two league leaders and the four guys who finish with the second- and third-highest first-round totals in their league), two will advance out of the second round to face the two rested sluggers in the semis. The two finals participants -- one from each league -- will again receive seven outs apiece, and if it comes down to a tiebreaker, they'll get three swings apiece."
So who are you picking? Will Cespedes defend his crown? Will Puig win it all? Stanton was asked this afternoon if hitting in Marlins Park, where he's hit 13 of his 21 HRs this season, has prepared him well for Target Field.
"It is a big park," Stanton told reporters. "Nothing will really prepare you until you are out there with all of the fans and the atmosphere, and all of the good things that went on. So it will be fun tonight and we'll see how it goes."