With the Dodgers’ first half of the season coming to an end, that means the fun and games of All-star weekend are upon us. For the 7th time in 8 seasons, the Dodgers will have a player participating in the popular home-run derby event with Max Muncy participating this year.
2013 was the only season the Dodgers did not have a participant in the home-run derby since 2011. Despite this, nobody has come home with the trophy.
In 2011 Matt Kemp represented the Dodgers in the event. His performance was poor, to say the least as he failed to make it out of the first round and totaled just two home runs. Meanwhile the eventual winner Robinson Cano ended his night with 32 long balls.
Kemp came back for redemption in 2012 and was once again in the derby. His quest for redemption ended worse than his original attempt as this time he only put one ball over the fence. The winner Prince Fielder parked 28 bombs.
But wait it gets worse before it gets better for Dodger fans. Yasiel Puig was inserted into the event and tried to shake those poor performances by not just Kemp but, past Dodgers. He failed miserably hitting as many home runs as my grandmother hit that year, ZERO. Fellow Cuban Yoenis Cespedes would win the event handily with 28 jimmy jacks.
At last, in 2015 there was some success. The new format was implemented in 2015, and Joc Pederson took advantage. He launched 39 home runs during the three rounds en route to a second place finish behind hometown favorite Todd Frazier. Frazier also ended with a total of 39 home runs but was able to triumph over him in the final round hitting 15 dingers opposed to Joc’s 14.
Another rookie would take the stage in 2016. Despite a robust first-round showing, Corey Seager was eliminated after losing to Mark Trumbo. Seager did manage to hit 15 home runs though. Even if Seager had advanced past the first round he had no real shot as the eventual champ Giancarlo Stanton was waiting. Stanton set a derby record that still stands with 61 taters.
Last season, Cody pop tried his luck but was bounced in the second round by the winner Aaron Judge. Bellinger had a strong showing and was able to launch 27 bombs in the derby. Judge would end the contest with a flurry of moonshots and put 47 balls into orbit (no, seriously some of those balls might still be going).
Here we are now in 2018. Max Muncy has been a HUGE surprise and has earned the opportunity to show out in everybody’s favorite competition. He has five teammates that have all participated in the event. It may suit him well to reach to them and ask for tips and advice on how to approach this glorified version of batting practice.
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Outside of future Dodger Bryce Harper, no real household names are participating in this season’s home run derby. No real heavy favorites like Stanton and Judge were the past two years. This year the competition is a bit more open.
It will ultimately come down to whoever gets hot at the right time. Harper does have an advantage because this is his home park and he knows exactly how it plays.
In the first round, Max Muncy will take on the charismatic Javier Baez. With Baez being the Dodger killer that he is it would be so satisfying to see Muncy take him down in the first round. Muncy will have the upper hand going second, knowing how many home runs he has to chase. With the showman that Baez is I expect him to do well on this stage. Making this first-round matchup for Muncy a very tough one.
If Muncy can get past Baez, I expect him to have to go through Bryce Harper in the semifinals. Another tough matchup. Muncy would also lose the advantage of going second, and Harper has the familiarity factor with this park. But, I would not count Muncy out. This season he showed up when nobody expected him to, and I expect that same mentality to seep out from him during this contest.
Harper would be his toughest test. I believe whoever wins Muncy’s side of the bracket will win the entire thing. The other side of the bracket is a complete toss-up to see who will breakthrough. The park slightly favors righties with the high wall in right-center field likely to be a factor. It could be any of the other four guys on the other side.
I would guess Jesus Aguilar because he has the most effortless power of the group and that plays well in this new derby structure with time instead of outs.
Muncy has a tall task ahead of him if he wants to be the first ever Dodger to win a home run derby. He also had a tall task ahead of him to make and stay on the roster, but he accomplished it anyway. I believe Muncy has a real shot to win the derby.